Dr. Peters has a new post on his fine canon law blog, In the Light of the Law. He doesn’t have an open combox over there, and I can understand why.
Confirmation and advocacy of ‘gay marriage’
by Dr. Edward Peters
Those trying to figure out exactly what happened to a teenage Catholic scheduled for Confirmation consequent to his posting a pro ‘gay marriage’ photo of himself on Facebook will not, I fear, find in secular press reports (amid their hyperboles and irrelevancies) much useful information about the incident, but it seems like something along those lines happened in Minnesota. [sigh] So let’s set out some points.
Catholics have a basic right to access the sacraments (Canon 213). The burden is on ministers to justify withholding sacraments from Catholics who seek them “at appropriate times, properly disposed, and not prohibited by from receiving them” (Canon 843). Hmm . . . “properly disposed.” Canon 889 § 2 states that to receive Confirmation licitly one must, among other things, be “properly disposed” for the sacrament. Hmm.
Well, what about this “proper disposition” requirement?
Generally “proper disposition” is not a question of internal disposition (such as interior faith, fervor, or grace) [It isn’t? I think it is. But how is a minister of a sacrament to know that? Thus, he must go by what can be known: outward signs that point to interior disposition and the public knowledge of those outward signs.] but rather of external disposition (public demeanor, dress, and conduct). The state of a would-be recipient’s soul is not determinable, of course, but his or her attitudes and conduct are observable (we’re talking Facebook, no?), and potentially actionable. [As I said.]
If a pastor, charged with the custody and celebration of the sacraments left to the Church by Christ, has solid reason to doubt the liceity of his conferral of a sacrament on a given individual, he is within his authority to delay, or even to deny, that sacrament for so long as that sad situation lasts. His decision is, of course, reviewable by ecclesiastical authority (not by the media) and such authority (with access to all the facts) might reach a different conclusion. But one starts any review with the above canons clearly in mind.
In another context I wrote about the risk of invalid (not just illicit) Confirmation on rebellious teenagers. See my “Invalid confirmation due to contrary intention of the recipient”, 2007 CLSA Advisory Opinions at 68-70. Such concerns should be assessed here as well.
Remember, this kid in question made a public statement of support for something that the Church cannot condone.
Report: MN bishop says pro-gay marriage teen can be confirmed when he publicly repudiates position
The parents of a teenage boy in the Diocese of Crookston (Minnesota) told the Fargo Forum that their parish priest has denied the Sacrament of Confirmation to their son, Lennon Cihak, because of his Facebook post in support of same-sex marriage.
Father Gary LaMoine of Assumption Church in Barnesville denied the family’s charge but would not elaborate.
“They’re my parishioners, and so when the press comes after me from different points of view and asks me all types of questions about their situation, I hesitate very much because I owe them, I owe that family confidentiality,” he said.
“He said ‘I cannot, cannot confirm him,’” Lennon’s mother said. “Father would not confirm him, and they won’t confirm him unless he changes his views.” [He made a public statement in favor of someone that the Church clearly teaches is not possible, and he made it for all the world to see.]
The parents also told the newspaper that they are no longer permitted to receive Holy Communion at the parish. [“They”? Are not “permitted” to receive Communion? That doesn’t sound right.]
“The mother did say that Bishop Michael Hoeppner of the Diocese of Crookston informed her that if Lennon stood before the church and denounced his support of same-sex marriage claims, he could be confirmed,” the Fargo Forum added.