Protesters at Mass must be denied Holy Communion. Have a plan of action?

When people come into church looking to turn the moment of Holy Communion into a protest moment or a demonstration in favor of some cause, especially one that opposes any teachings of the Church, those people must be denied Holy Communion.

The Church cannot give in to bullies, and that is what Communion rail protesters are: bullies.

Two recent examples came to my attention.

First, (HERE) in Chicago a guy with a “rainbow sash” (a pro-homosexuality symbol) approached Card. George for Communion during Mass.  Card. George denied him Communion.  Rightly.

Also, (HERE) in Philadelphia some people with various props, such as tied hands, blindfolds, etc., making some kind of protest about immigration policy, approached Archbp. Chaput for Communion.  Chaput, rightly, denied them Communion.

Some of you will be able to come up with more examples.  Some of you will also be able to find examples where the protesters/demonstrators were indeed given Holy Communion (wrongly).

I think Card. George and Archbp. Chaput did the right thing.

I also think that we will be seeing a lot more of this B as in B, S as in S in the near future and we who stand in the sanctuary had better figure out what we are going to do about it.

It may even happen that some protesters get violent.  Then what?

Remember the deeply unattractive topless idiot women in Belgium who went after Archbp. Leonard a while back? They behaved like complete morons and then threw water on him.  How could anyone at the moment have known that it wasn’t acid or something else? (If you want to see the demonic ugly photos, check out the story from HuffPo, proud daily purveyors of the ugly and demonic. Slide 5 really captures the moment.)

Jokes about the “liturgical Beretta” aside, what to do when some anti-Catholic or heretic protesters must be denied Communion and then really starts to act out?

What do you do when hired protesters who were shouting “Hail, Satan!” show up at your church because Father is preaching against abortion or the HHS mandate or the same-sex marriage? Something like that happened at the Texas capitol the other day. (HERE)

I raise questions like this from time to time because I think we all have to get our heads around the changes going on around us.  Some changes are happening really fast!   Some preparation and planning now might be of great help in the future.

If fathers of families have to prepare and plan for bad and dangerous circumstances, such as making sure everyone knows what to do if there is a fire or a break in, so too should Fathers (bishops and priests) prepare and plan for bad and dangerous circumstances, such as making sure that at least a few people know what to do if A, B or C take place.

I foresee that certain groups will be more and more emboldened to “take on the Church” at the local level, that is, by acting up in and around parishes and chanceries.  Some of these nut jobs will be violent, and you never know when a crowd can become a mob.

Think it can’t happen at your parish? Read this and think again…

( – A grassroots political consulting group, whose major clients include the Democratic National Committee (DNC), was recruiting individuals on Craigslist and offering to pay them $1,300 to $2,200 a month to “protect women’s rights” in Austin, Texas for their client, Planned Parenthood.

This is how radicals work.

If you haven't seen it, here's a link to the DVD.


A commentator mentioned the scene in The Cardinal in which Nazis break into the Archbishop’s palace in Vienna after the Anschluß and wreak havoc. This was in living memory, friends, in a city deemed to be a center of culture, sophistication, and Catholic faith. Do you think this could not be our situation in the course of a couple short years?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, 1983 CIC can. 915, Liberals, Our Catholic Identity, Semper Paratus, The Drill, The future and our choices, The Last Acceptable Prejudice and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. mamajen says:

    Maybe we need to employ bouncers (or really muscular ushers). [Does anyone want to restore the minor order of “Porter”? (Trick question! We all do!)]

  2. Interestingly, I was actually thinking along these lines last week.

    I attend Mass at one place that politely requests cell phones not be brought into the church proper, as they feel such a holy environment does not warrant cell phones.

    I want to be obedient to their request, and have tried to do so, but a part of me wonders, “what if something ever happened, and someone needed to call 911 asap, but no one had a cell phone to call because everyone had left them in their cars? Wouldn’t it be better to just let people bring their phones in as long as they are on silent?”

    I agree – people should think of this and have a plan, because you just never know.

    God bless you for pointing that out.

  3. DisturbedMary says:

    First, we have to recognize darkness when we see it. In New York, Cardinal Dolan continues to smile and wave at the angry homosexuals who darken his doorstep at every opportunity. Overt hatred for priests and the Church is out of the closet and the activist people are capable of deadly rage. Mamajen has a point. The men (including the priests) in Church have to be prepared for violence. Men of all ages must ask the local precint to train them in what to do if an emergency occurs. Get advice. Attention must be paid to protect Father and the Blessed Sacrament. If each person is assigned a task (call the police, remove the Blessed Sacrament to safety, keep women and children safe…), as the boy scouts used to say, Be Prepared, it may be an opportunity to wake some of those slumbering in the pews with the reality of how close we are to persecution.

  4. Ben Kenobi says:

    “Maybe we need to employ bouncers (or really muscular ushers).”

    Perhaps that’s what the Knights should be doing, no? Good way to have a role for men. Oh, and thanks Father for all of you who prayed for us at the Capitol. I was there. It was a fantastic opportunity to witness the truth of the humanity of the unborn.

  5. Sid Cundiff in NC says:

    Every pastor needs a plan for disruption, and he needs to meet with his ushers and communicate it. That plan should include the following:

    1. At the moment of the disruption, all the ushers but one should immediately go to the disruptor. The one remaining dials 911, and then goes outside to wave the police inside. In my community, the police on Sunday mornings respond quickly.

    2. The ushers who go to the disruptor clear the pews in front, behind, and beside the disruptor (to aid the police), or if the disruptor is standing, the ushers should surround him. One or two ushers should block the disruptor’s view of the altar (satanists like to curse the Host during the Ostentation Rite).

    3. The ushers tell the disruptor the following:
    i. that he must leave immediately;
    ii. that the state has a criminal law against disrupting a church service (as we do in NC);
    iii. that the police are one the way;
    iv. that if he doesn’t leave, then he is guilty of Trespass (as the state’s law defines it);
    v. that the DA can throw in the charge of Disordrly Conduct;
    vi. that if the police tell him to leave, and if he refuses, the the charge is Failure to Obey a Lawful Order of a Government Official;
    vii. that if he physically resists, the charge is Resisting or Assaulting a Police Officer; and
    viii. that everyone present and the bishop of the diocese will take out a class action lawsuit for violation of their civil right under 1st Amendment of “free exercise of religion”, and will thus take the disruptor to the cleaners.

    4. If the disruptor leaves, the ushers should escort him to the door, tell him never to return under threat of a charge of Trespass, and stay at the doors for the remainder of the Mass.

    5. The disruptor should not be bounced; let the police do that unless he becomes a threat to life and limb. In NC, this is the law: Let the police bounce. And this makes sense; the police are trained to do this.

    6. Pastors should always press charges; this kind of crime needs punishment. If the police report arrests and events on a website, as they do in my community, check to see the disruptor’s court date. If the local sheriff posts those in jail, check that list too. If the arraignment is public, usually the next day, someone from the parish should be present. Someone from the parish should be present for the court dates. This is tedious and takes some time. Usually at the first appearance the person charged just asks for a lawyer. At the 2nd, the lawyer asks for a continuence. Regardless, someone from the parish should be present. Because priests are always busy, a layman should do this for every appearance, however time consuming this may be. Certain the pastor and the ushers should be present for a trial. If the disruptor fail to appear, the judge will charge him accordingly and order the defendant’s arrest. Check the police list of arrest warrants.

    7. A tort lawyer should be consulted about the matter discussed in 3.viii. above.

    I’ve probably left something out.

  6. Sid Cundiff in NC says:

    I forgot: one usher should have a cell phone turned on but with the ringer turned off

  7. Fr. Erik Richtsteig says:

    Yes, I agree that there should be a plan. And it needs to be more than looking the protestor in the eye and saying, “No Jesus for you!”

  8. OrthodoxChick says:

    Fr. Z. is correct that priests and bishops should be developing plans. Since these incidents are few and far between – for now – now is the time to start planning. Perhaps one simple step to take is to change locks on all church doors to a type that locks from the outside of the church, but not the inside. That way, if someone with evil intent tries to enter the church once the Mass has begun, they would not be able to enter in any ordinary way. Yet, those inside who had to leave early for illness/emergency, or leave temporarily to calm a toddler in melt-down could still do so. Also, the whole congregation would not be trapped if a fire broke out during Mass (God Forbid). This might also serve as a reminder to late-comers that if they don’t arrive before Mass, they won’t be attending Mass at all at that time. I don’t know if such two-way type of locks are available, but if they are, it would seem a simple, cost-effective place to start while continuing to devise other contingency plans.

    We’ve been parish shopping lately for a no-nonsense N.O. parish in the area because weekly EF attendance is still a bit of a strain on the budget with current gas prices. We haven’t found one yet, but at one parish we visited, the pastor actually stands in the doorway and greets Mass attendees as they are coming in. When he spots an unfamiliar face, as he did with us, he makes a point to introduce himself, greet the strangers and make a friendly inquiry as to how they found the church/what brought them there. In our case, after we told him we’re looking for a new parish, we received a friendly welcome. Mass started a minute or two late while Father vested at the last minute, but no one seemed to mind and Father had a pretty good idea of who was in his church at that Mass and why. So maybe that’s another option to consider.

  9. Gaetano says:

    But in an emotional show of solidarity, Brenna C. Cronin, who had already received her communion as part of the church choir, went back up and took another communion wafer (called a Host) and brought it to Murray herself.

    “One of my brothers, a member of my community, who is a full and equal member of the body of Christ, was denied communion. So I got back in line and I brought him communion, as I would for anyone else,” Cronin told Windy City Times after the Mass. Cronin, who is a lesbian, has been involved with AGLO for two years and is also a cantor.

    “I was denied communion by the Cardinal,” Murray said after. “I turned to Christ, I walked back open handed, and showed the community that I was denied communion, and Christ, in his mercy, sent me a priest [Cronin] to give me communion.”

    This is the part that truly offended me. This is the second time that I have read where communion has been denied (for an appropriate reason) and a member of the congregation has taken it opon themselves to receive the host and give it to the protestor.

    I am not a huge advocate of communion only on the tongue, but incidents like this simply wouldn’t happen if we reinstituted this discipline. Consider me converted on the issue.

  10. JohnE says:

    Perhaps like the Shaolin monks, our ushers should be trained in martial arts? I have wondered myself what I should do if something like that were to happen and the protester was to start making a scene. I believe there are still laws against disrupting a religious service aren’t there? Subdue, remove, detain, and arrest. The major problem I see is that more attention may draw more protests, but doing nothing is not an option.

  11. idelsan says:

    The return of the medieval military orders? Like the Knights Templar? :)

  12. moon1234 says:

    Protecting the priest and the blessed sacrament should rightly fall on those closest to him. This was always traditionally the clerics that were serving the priest during Mass along with the acolytes. There is something to be said for adults to be servers in the absence of Acolytes.

    When I was in High School and serving we were trained to protect the priest and the blessed sacrament under all circumstances. We had altar rails and barring someone trying to hop the rails, we had a few people try and enter the sanctuary through the doors in the center. Several of the servers needed to stand the way of a few mentally disturbed people who would try to enter the sanctuary during Mass. Usually a member of the congregation would come get the person, but sometimes we needed to escort the person out of the Church proper.

    We were all trained on how to rescue the blessed sacrament in the case of fire, war, etc. There were hidden keys to the tabernacle and the hidden storage in the sacristy that we were all shown how to use and where to take the blessed sacrament. Ideally we were to hide the blessed sacrament and sacred vessels somewhere outside the Church until the could be presented to a priest. If that was not possible, due to a Viva Cristo Rey moment, then we were instructed to consume all of the blessed hosts as quickly as possible and then hide or leave the Church without being seen and ACT NORMAL.

    I don’t think this type of respect and training is instilled in servers anymore. It is at our parish, but in asking others at other parishes I got sideways stairs.

    Here is a scene from the movie “The Cardinal” where the crowds are attacking the Church and the Priests/Cardinal must protect the blessed sacrament. This is EXACTLY what we may face, maybe not from Nazi’s, but rather from protestors who have the same intent.

  13. govmatt says:

    To jump on the “muscular ushers” train….

    1) Protestors should never be in the position to be denied communion. Any degree of disruption should be dealt with by ushers. If the protestor refuses to leave, call the cops (or your muscular ushers might get sued…)

    2) If the protest occurs right at the point of reception (e.g. unexpectedly making a scene in front of the Bishop, spitting out the Eucharist, chanting “Hail Satan” etc), Father should have ushers nearby to escort the protestor away. Note the distribution of communion at the Vatican: each priest distributing communion is accompanied by (what appears to me, the layman) security. (Whether or not these suited, sometimes umbrella carrying, folks are security or not I’m sure others here know better… but the implication of security remains)

    3) We need to realize that no amount of remedy will cure a disruption. We need to be proactive to prevent sacrilege. Interception before Mass is necessary. We need to come to accept the news report of Henry Heretic screaming to cameras that the evil Bishop wouldn’t even permit Henry into the Cathedral for mass. This is preferable to Henry Heretic actually committing some egregious sin in the middle of Mass. Some “bad” press (even though the people who understand will realize Bishop was in the right) is better than allowing grave sins.

    Suggestion: Your “greeters” should enforce decorum before Mass even starts:
    1) Dress code (within reason here… protest sashes: bounced)
    2) Prayerful silence
    3) Advise violators, report potential problems to the ushers, if someone needs to be removed, either consult the priest before mass (or get the green light to toss ’em beforehand)

  14. Stumbler but trying says:

    @ Gaetano….”But in an emotional show of solidarity, Brenna C. Cronin, who had already received her communion as part of the church choir, went back up and took another communion wafer (called a Host) and brought it to Murray herself.”

    After I read that I too was disgusted. What a way to undermine and disrespect Cardinal George! It had me wondering if many more will seek to do what she did if more folks are denied communion later on if something like this happens again.

  15. 2I have the perfect plan. (1) Find out what Fr. Richtsteig would do. (2) Do that.

  16. Jack Hughes says:

    I second anita and add the following, make sure your Ushers are packing

  17. Fr. Thomas says:

    I am all too aware of my unworthiness to receive or distribute Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and so I am hesitant to deny anyone Communion. That being said, the reception of Our Lord in Communion is the most inappropriate time for political discourse and does need to be taken very seriously. There was a video not too long ago, I think it was at a Church in Canada (Fr. Z might remember) in which protestors were disturbing people as the were leaving Mass. The priest kindly asked them to wait until after he had greeted the people and then would answer any of their questions, which he did and clarified many of their misperceptions. I think that is a good example of when everything goes well. Satan does work in the world (and thanks be to God, Pope Francis made St. Michael a special protector of Vatican City today), and he likes nothing better than to harm the Bride of Christ. I think we should remember the actions of Archbishop Léonard, whom Fr. Z mentioned, his example was that of Christ. I have not yet finished Pope Francis’ encyclical yet but I was amazed how he began with a reminder that Christians have always been willing to die for their faith. The early Christians appealed to the law but not force.

    “The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christianity.”
    May Christ be glorified in his saints!

  18. DisturbedMary says:

    Archbishop Chaput should be stepping back and away from this guy with the tattoo, the camera?, and the “blindfold”. Why talk to him when he could swipe at the Blessed Sacrament, make a grab or who knows what? If there is any suspicion that there will be trouble (as at an immigration Mass in a Cathedral) announcements could be made beforehand in English, Spanish and Latin : ) that anyone approaching for Communion with intent to commit sacrilege will be asked to leave or put under arrest. Under no circumstance will they be permitted to take the Blessed Sacrament.

  19. KAS says:

    First, communion in the hand must end. Otherwise there will be more persons violating the sacred host by taking it to someone denied for good reasons. The safeguarding of the holiness of the Blessed Sacrament should be of prime concern here.

    This means: NO communion in the hand.

    This means: black and white teaching of Christ that includes such obvious information like the fact that if you contracept or are pro-choice you are not in communion and should not be receiving until your conscience and practices are in alignment with Catholic teachings.

    This means: the Knights of Columbus, ushers, and all those serving in any capacity “up front” should take training in how to respond to this kind of disruptive person, including whose task is it to stand between the protester and the priest and Eucharist, whose task it is to call the police, whose task it is to speak to the invader, etc.

    BETTER teaching from the pulpit would be good too. Stronger words and actions by the Bishops would help as well. Most of the people are still more or less ignorant and thus might change from pro-choicer sympathizing with protestors to defenders of the Faith– if they hear it from the pulpit strongly enough to break through their Sunday drowse.

    Anyway, my off the top $.02 worth, perhaps over-priced at that. B-)

  20. Adam Welp says:

    I have been thinking about this a lot recently. As a sacristan and member of the Knights of Columbus, my first action (if there was a disturbance during Mass) would be to dart up to the tabernacle and protect the Blessed Sacrament. If anyone tried to make a move toward the tabernacle I would remove the Blessed Sacrament and grab the sacristy hide-a-key and lock myself in the sacristy with the Blessed Sacrament. Once safely inside the sacristy, there are several locking cabinets where I could reserve the Blessed Sacrament until an all clear is given. Assuming that this all goes down at my parish of residence, though I would not hesitate to do the same at the parish where I grew up and is the parish of my parents and in-laws. Even in an unfamiliar parish, I would still place myself between any protester and the Blessed Sacrament.

  21. avecrux says:

    Men need to protect the Priest as well as the Blessed Sacrament. No Priest – no Sacraments. Always protect our Priests. The women can take care of the children. (See the Two Towers on how this is done). I agree the Knights of Columbus may want to make this a project. In a parish I was in several years back, the Knights were the ushers. All of them wore burgundy colored blazers. The had their act together and there were a LOT of them.
    Sid in NC – great, practical ideas.
    govmatt – I agree that if ushers do their job, the protester should not even reach the point of being denied Holy Communion.
    Remember what they did to Cardinal O’Connor in 1989 and and recently the “fake blood” incident in Chicago.

  22. MikeM says:

    I believe that Archbishop Chaput had asked the ushers to stand down when they had earlier tried to remove the protestors. Given that, in this case, the protestors weren’t terribly disruptive, that they’ve been as compliant as one can be while remaining a protestor in their past activities, and that their complaint was the closure of the relatively healthy parish that they’d just gone to great lengths to renovate at no cost to the archdiocese (they don’t have any apparent beef with Catholic doctrine, etc.), I think that Chaput handled the situation the best way possible.

    Chaput was given a big financial mess in Philly, and he’s doing the best he can to address it, and with an openness and transparency that’s new for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. I’m not inclined to pile on with the complaints people have… people would complain no matter what he did. But, it’s understandable that these people are upset. We can’t give the blessed sacrament to protestors, and people can’t be allowed to hijack the Mass for their own purposes, but, when the protestors are loyal Catholics feeling justifiably like they’re getting the short end of the stick, gently firmness might be better than tossing them onto the parkway.

  23. Elizabeth M says:

    I live in California. What happened in Chicago could happen here at any time. The story turned my stomach. This poor man is so completely confused, so poorly catechised, and so are the people around him. The laity have a responsibility to be gentle to those who need His Grace for conversion and to pray and sacrifice for them. We also need to remind them that Jesus, while Mercy Itself is also Justice. Maybe it’s not our primary place, but if we are called to help in the “New Evangelization” we should engage in discussions and most importantly live fully Catholic lives. If they return our words with threats and yells, shake the dust from your sandals and move on. Our time is a second Rome. We must do what the early Catholics did and only by His Grace will the world be converted.
    The more we shout at them the more fuel we give the devil. This doesn’t mean we aren’t to do battle. I can only say from personal experience that those who call themselves “catholic” and go still continue to live against Church Teaching are looking for us to get red in the face and fight them in the street. It makes them look like a puppy dog fighting off a wolf in the eyes of the world. We must pray, pray, pray for our Priests and Bishops to be strong and not to care that someone else in their diocese will take offense and stop monetary donations.
    If these protesters present themselves and are denied there should be a public notice as to why. Second, a meeting with them should be held outside of Mass. Once the majority of Catholics understand why, there will be less gossiping in the pews. Fewer parishioners, but less sacrilege maybe.

  24. AA Cunningham says:

    I certainly hope that Charles Fox, staff photographer at the Philadelphia Inquirer, is now persona non grata at any Mass celebrated in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. This was a set up, plain and simple and is yet another reason why only Archdiocesan/Diocesan photographers should be allowed to take pictures during Mass, with the exceptions of weddings. Secular photographers should be required to receive some tutelage about what is and what is not acceptable behavior both during and after a nuptial Mass/wedding. Same thing for every Tom, Dick and Mary taking pictures with their smart phones or camcorders during Mass as well. Mass is sacred people, it is not to be treated as a spectacle by the ignorant and poorly catechized.

    Also, it doesn’t matter if a sentinel is in place if the rector is more concerned that correcting irreverent, sacrilegious, disrespectful, boorish behavior might stop some nitwit from dropping two dollars into the collection on Christmas and Easter. There are more important things than tallying the weekly tithes.

  25. Lin says:

    I have been thinking about this for a couple of years now. We live in a community of less than 2500 but a shooting did happen in a church in another rural community of the same size within the past six months. I always carry a cell phone on silent in mass and intend to apply for a permit to carry a hand gun. None of us are safe any where anymore and our chances are better if we can defend ourselves. Personally, my family members have instrutions on how to proceed if they receive an SOS from me via cell phone. Our parish really does need a plan for action as required!

  26. JARay says:

    I think that Sid Cundiff in NC has a good plan and it should be taken up.
    That woman Brenna C. Cronin needs to receive a good reprimand for her action. She assisted in a Sacrilege and that should be made clear to her. She should also be told that she is no longer a Cantor in the Choir and that she should go to Confession before receiving Holy Communion again and anyone distributing Holy Communion should be always on the lookout for people who do not consume the Host straight away. I can see the value of both a) Communion on the tongue and b) someone standing beside those distributing Communion to watch out for strange behaviour such as not consuming the Host straight away.

  27. Paul C Md says:

    The priest is busy doing something more important, the servers are young and the ushers are old and the people wont ever ever ever move if they even half-notice. Just do what the Holy Spirit prompts in you – without thought or delay or slowness. Don’t let the “Devil made me do it” grab you, I said the Holy Spirit: He’s no shrinking violet and He is all love and firm.

    The intent of a protester is to protest – giving the person visual time and audio time is what they are there for. Denial of time is the point. Catechize outside (not fast arguing, but slow loving catechesis).

  28. Juergensen says:

    This is a welcome small – very small – step.

    What is needed, however, is for these bishops, archbishops, and Cardinals of large Democratic cities (Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, Boston, et al.) to do their duty, enforce Canon 915, and deny Communion to all the sundry politicians who publicly vote for and fund abortion during the week and profanate the Holy Eucharist on Sundays.

    If these bishops, archbishops, and Cardinals cannot stand up for the Body and Blood Christ, what are they?

  29. Kerry says:

    The first line of defense is the camera. Videos preferably. Why…? Because the left is a population of liars whose words mean nothing. Second, the intruders should be swarmed, as honeybees swarm intruders into the hive. (Physically blocking the intruders from the Holy of Holies. A video record will refute their lies about what happened.) Third; I don’t know the third. However, defense does not happen spontaneously; planning is required. Doing nothing is not a defense. Hope for the best, plan for the worst. I think if churches are perceived as hardened targets, this kind of crappy behavior by the ‘haters’ can be stopped before it metastasizes. Si vis pacem, para bellum

  30. Deacon Nathan Allen says:

    You beat me to the suggestion of restoring the minor order of porter, Father, but might I also add, after the events at the State Capitol in Texas, that the minor order of exorcist also be reinstated?

  31. Tradster says:

    I wonder if this nonsense doesn’t occur at TLMs not just because of the lack of Communion in the hand, but perhaps because the TLM is more masculine than the NO and has far more men in the pews – real men willing to defend the Faith and Sacrament at all costs.

  32. Gail F says:

    Tradster: Oh please. The reason this doesn’t happen at EF Masses is that there are hardly any. That, and this sort of thing generally happens at giant Masses in cathedrals, which are almost never EF Masses. People protest where they think it will get the biggest reaction.
    Thanks, MikeM, for providing the background information on what was going on in Philadelphia. It does sound as if +Chaput did the right thing there. I would not be in his shoes for anything! But this was not the kind of thing that happened in Chicago, with the man sitting backwards in protest throughout Mass about a matter of Catholic teaching.

  33. jenniphd says:

    Well, now I have another good reason for my prayers of thanksgiving for the armed officer who attends our TLM each week. While I don’t want to count too much on him, I think our parish would do well to seek his advice so we are prepared at each Mass.

  34. Kathleen10 says:

    The experts in preparedness (for any situation) say that not having a plan is a recipe for being totally overwhelmed in such dire circumstances. Having your Holy Mass interrupted would count as dire.
    Having a “team” to count on is indicated. Meetings with the parish with the express idea of assigning how to react can help.
    People can fill in “assignments”, such as, I will call 911, I will surround the protestor, I will get out my camera-phone and record (more important than you might think), especially those who surround a protestor, I will open the door for said protestor to be encouraged out, I will stand as barrier to the laity, I will guard the Blessed Sacrament, and so on. Anyone who goes near the protester needs to have people watching and recording as much as they can every word and move.
    People need training. Left to work itself out, I predict sad over-reactions (natural) and lawsuits by Satan-lovers who will get you one way or another. Lawsuits are the stock in trade of pesky protester pestilence carriers.
    Hands off policy is advisable. Even though I, as a woman who abhors violence, would like nothing better than to see the…stuffing knocked out of someone who dared pull such a stunt, I must remember that we live in 2013, not 1913, and lawsuits are a very real threat and would cost much in bad press, Father’s nerves, not to mention money. Any attempt by a parish to organize such an organized response would of course be legally portrayed by opponents as the sanctioning of any respondents actions. It doesn’t at all mean they shouldn’t do it, just that this is how the lawyers will portray it. “Father X set this up, he wanted a protestor to have his arm broken”. Translation: what a parish member would do in such a situation is going to come back square on the parish. If you can’t act with restraint against a loud, offensive, grotesque, rude protestor, don’t take on a responsibility. You aren’t up to it. Applicants for police officer are rejected if they are a hot head. You must be calm and cool, able to keep you composure and if possible, your hands off and your mouth mostly shut. Otherwise you are as much a problem as the protestor. They come in loud and vulgar. That is the whole point.
    I think, unfortunately, every member of the laity needs to understand it can happen. My concern is with our frail elderly and how this hubbub could affect them. Imagine their horror. The laity, as many as can regain their composure, can play a part. Think, the laity singing an agreed-upon hymn of praise to give Jesus the glory but also to vocally over-ride the perpetrator’s vulgarity and mosquito-like buzz. Nothing the protester needs to hear more than a hymn, and it I guarantee it is preferable to what they’re saying. Somewhat protects the children and elderly hearing what they don’t need to hear, and best of all, takes the effectiveness away from the protester. “Darn it, I couldn’t hear myself think over the singing of Panis Angelicus!”.
    One thought about communion on the tongue. Not a solution in my mind. I wish it was. To be somewhat delicate, I do not believe having the Blessed Sacrament on someone’s tongue for a second would be any impediment to that host being given to a protestor. These folks are trickier than that. Unless Father is willing to stand and watch the person swallow, there’s not much to be done if someone is really determined to do it. Even that wouldn’t prevent it. There is no action too sneaky or horrible for some people.
    Ok, it’s done. You have a loud protestor in your midst. Having been trained, a few gentlemen protect Father and someone protects the Blessed Sacrament. Someone or a few, record the event, the laity protect the vulnerable elderly and children in the pews. A group of men surround the protestor but do not put hands on, and move him or her toward the door. No screaming, no yelling, no responding. Someone has called 911. There will be varying possibilities, depending on whether said protestor is screaming (probably) or not. This is where legal actions matter. Do you gently remove protestor and keep him or her out? Lawyers in each state for a diocese should answer this. Each state is different. In our state, Connecticut, I expect that unless you clear out the priest and put the protestor in the Bishop’s Chair, then listen to him rant for an hour, you are probably going to be sued in a big way. Hopefully you still live in a remnant of America.
    Remember, level heads. I am an NRA member, and can carry. It is not an appealing idea carrying in a church for the most part. Unless you are an experienced, very practiced gun owner, pulling out a weapon in church in the heat of a moment is liable to either save someone, yes, or kill Father or dear old Mrs. Jones who just turned 92. I discourage anyone from carrying just to church. NOT a good idea. And if you carry just to church, the first thing a lawyer will do is say you were expecting a problem and are a rogue vigilante.
    Sorry for the rant.

  35. HeatherPA says:

    Bringing back the Communion rails and / or the Bishops mandating an end to hand Communion in the USA would put an end to almost all the abuse of the Blessed Sacrament right away.

    Did any disciplinary action happen to the woman who decided she knew more than Cardinal George and took it upon herself to act as Pope for the day?

  36. Navarricano says:

    I think there are a lot of interesting suggestions above that merit further discussion, and a lot of these ideas about the role of ushers could be useful for restoring a sense of decorum and reverence even in ordinary, non-crisis situations. Here in Spain, there have been some high profile incidents involving the desecration of chapels and churches in the past few years, but no disruptions of Mass that I can recall offhand. However, it is certainly within the realm of possibility and, I would dare say, even likely at some point given the way these kinds of “protests” tend to go viral thanks to the pervasiveness of the international media and the confrontational nature of people who style themselves “activists” (whatever the issue they are pushing may be).

    I’d like to add an additional comment with regard to something that Gaetano wrote above, i.e., “I am not a huge advocate of communion only on the tongue, but incidents like this simply wouldn’t happen if we reinstituted this discipline. Consider me converted on the issue.”

    I am an advocate of a return to Communion on the tongue myself, and I will not receive any other way. But let me just add that, sadly, Communion on the tongue will not, in and of itself, prevent an individual from giving the host to another. I was present at a Mass in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela about three years ago, where I witnessed a teenage girl approach the priest to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, return to her place in the pew, remove the host from her mouth and break it in half, and give the other half to her sulky boyfriend who had remained seated the entire time. I was beside myself, but there was nothing I could have done to prevent it. I did bring the matter to the attention of the cathedral authorities afterwards, asking them to take greater precautions in safeguarding the Holy Eucharist during the celebration of the multitudinous, daily pilgrim’s masses offered in the cathedral. In my last few visits to the cathedral it appears that they have, in fact, taken more measures than in the past, but it is a complicated problem. Nonetheless, I agree that eliminating communion in the hand would be an enormous step in the right direction and would eliminate loads of other abuses.

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