In my Religion book by Fr. Laux, “Mass and the Sacraments”, he says without any explanation that soldiers going into battle and criminals before execution cannot receive Extreme Unction. I get the soldiers part, but why can’t the criminals receive Extreme Unction? I also read somewhere that they receive it AFTER death… This sounds weird to me and I’m really confused now.
The law is pretty clear.
Can. 1004 §1. The anointing of the sick can be administered to a member of the faithful who, having reached the use of reason, begins to be in danger due to sickness or old age.
This doesn’t say execution or about to engage in battle or some other activity like driving in a NASCAR race.
And there is the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
1514 “The anointing of the sick is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of deathfrom sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived.”
Common points? Danger of death… sick and old age.
One can be in danger of death for many reasons. For example, someone who is about to undergo surgery requiring a general anesthesia could be in danger of death. People about to be executed or go into battle are in danger of death. Those are not occasions for the sacrament because they are external to the person. Once damage is inflicted through a wound and danger of death is obvious, that’s another matter.
Soldiers and those to be executed ought to be given the opportunity to make their confession, receive Viaticum, hear the commendation of the soul, and so forth.
Some of you might be saying “But Father! But Father! You must really hate Vatican II! Vatican II did away with rules. Pope Francis said so! All sacraments should be given to everyone all the time. You make me cry. I need to be anointed now.”
Look. Bending law on the level of wearing blue vestments on a Marian feast is one thing. Administration of sacraments is another.