From a reader… I came across this post, and I have some questions. I am not a Catholic, but I am a lawyer, and I wish to understand canon law.
1. You mentioned that “when you come up to Fr. Z for Communion wearing, I dunno, a “rainbow sash” on a day when a pro-homosexuality groups say they are going to churches wearing rainbow sashes, Fr. Z will deny you Communion. It is a manifest, public gesture during the public distribution of Communion.” I understand it is manifest, that is, public, but why is it “grave sin” to be publicly supportive of something the church does not support? [?!?] For example, if I was a baptised Catholic and was wearing a shirt advertising my employer of record, a divorce law firm, should I be denied communion? [WHOA! Think this through.]
2. Likewise, is being employed by organizations engaged in sin per se manifest grave sin ? For example, if I am a family court judge and I grant divorces, and continue to do so, is my sin thus manifest and grave? What if I am merely a clerk, or a secretary for that court?
Whew… make some distinctions! Qui bene distinguit, bene docet.
First, remember that divorce is not objectively sinful, and it is certainly not sinful with the gravity that homosexual activity is sinful. Sad as they are, there are legitimate reasons for divorce. The Code of Canon Law recognizes this.
NB: Catholics should know that divorce does not free one to enter into a subsequent marriage. A civil divorce does not break a valid bond of marriage. If you were married in church in the regular, proper way, according to the Church’s laws, and if you are civilly divorced, merely, you are not free to “marry” again.
Moving on, in general, one should not wear clothing “advertising” anything at Mass. You are not at Mass to advertise. You are there – seeking to encounter mystery and preparing for your death- as a sinner and a baptized, adopted child of God the Father redeemed in the Blood of Christ and (I hope) a Temple of the Holy Spirit. You are not at Mass as a billboard for whatever – even good – organization that has duped you into promoting their message. If you must wear some sort of advertisement (e.g., an employee work uniform hearing Holy Mass before a shift begins, or if you are in law enforcement, etc.) it should be little ostentation as possible. If, however, you work as Donald Duck at Disneyland, leave your inflated head in the car.
On the other hand, if your outfit is clearly purposed to demonstrate opposition to the Church’s teaching – and that is exactly what the rainbow sash means today, now that the rainbow’s deeper theological meaning has been so demonically twisted – or if it clearly expresses support for grave intrinsic evil (e.g., advertising an abortion clinic, support for Planned Barrenhood, neo-Nazi symbols, euthanasia, imitation bacon, that sort of thing), then you should not be surprised when Father – quite properly – denies you access to Holy Communion.
If you are concerned that your current employment doesn’t square with your beliefs as a Catholic, set up an appointment with your friendly local parish priest and have a talk.
Perhaps it’s time for a career change.