Bp. Paprocki explains denial of Communion for manifest grave sinners

DATELINE: Springfield, IL.

It seems that in a letter to the edition of the local paper someone went after His Excellency Most Reverend Thomas Paprocki, Bishop of Springfield in regard to Communion for the civilly divorced and remarried (CDRs).  HERE  The writer is identified as being involved with the heretical loonly-left Call To Action and the pro-sodomy Equally Blessed Coalition.  It may not surprise you that he is against his bishop and against the Church’s teaching.  However, in his letter to the editor he invoked all sorts of blah blah about the Synod of Bishop and quoted Archbp. Blase Cupich of Chicago about leaving Communion to the conscience of individuals blah blah.  In sum, the writer painted an inaccurate picture.

In his own turn, Bp. Paprocki responded a few days after with the truth.  HERE

With my emphases and comments:

Bishop Thomas John Paprocki: ‘Conscience’ a complicated matter at Communion

Posted Dec. 26, 2015 at 10:00 PM

It is important to set the record straight about some incorrect statements made by John Freml in his letter to the editor (December 21, 2015). He notes that Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago has said that people in “irregular” situations, such as those who are divorced and civilly remarried and those who are in same-sex government marriages, should work with a spiritual director to come to a decision “in good conscience” about receiving Holy Communion.
Of course, those who are in “irregular situations” should talk to a qualified spiritual director or a priest in the context of sacramental confession, [but…] but forming a “good conscience” means that they will recognize and repent of their sins, resolve to reform their lives in accord with Christ’s teachings and receive absolution in the Sacrament of Reconciliation before receiving Holy Communion.  [That’s the key… if you are sinning, change your life before going to Communion.]
According to the canon law of the Catholic Church, Canon 916 directs those “conscious of grave sin” to refrain from receiving Holy Communion. [AND…] Individuals must form their consciences in accord with Church teaching. Conscience assesses how a person’s concrete action in a given situation accords with Church teaching — not to determine whether one agrees with or accepts Church teaching in the first place.  [Exactly.  That is what the previous writer was, in essence, asserting.]
Canon 915, however, in contrast with Canon 916, directs ministers of Holy Communion to withhold the Sacrament, not from “sinners” per se (since no one can read the state of another person’s soul), but rather, from those who “obstinately persist in manifest grave sin.” [Can. 916 addresses the communicant.  Can. 915 addresses the minister of Communion.] In Catholic tradition, attempting marriage following a civil divorce without a declaration of nullity and entering a “same-sex marriage” are examples of the kind of gravely wrong public action that require ministers not to admit to Holy Communion those who “obstinately persist in manifest grave sin” under Canon 915.
When withholding holy Communion from those whose conduct is described in Canon 915, [NB] a minister is not assessing personal “worthiness,” [because it can’t be assessed with moral certainty] but rather, is acting in accord with an age-old sacramental discipline designed to protect both the Sacrament from the risk of possible sacrilege and the faith community from the harm of scandal caused by someone’s public conduct[public!] that is contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Thus, when Mr. Freml says that people may receive Holy Communion in such cases “even when the church hierarchy says that they should not,” this is simply not true. It is true that Jesus welcomes everyone. But as Jesus said at the last supper, so we say in the Eucharistic prayer at Mass, Jesus poured out his blood “for you and for many,” since not everyone accepts what Christ offers, just as Judas did not accept what Christ offered him.

Fr. Z kudos to Bp. Paprocki for the clear explanation and willingness to teach and correct his flock.

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28 Responses to Bp. Paprocki explains denial of Communion for manifest grave sinners

  1. APX says:

    I thought only priests are permitted to address matters of conscience? Given the so-called “spiritual directors” that are out there, mainly in the lay state with questionable qualifications and questionable orthodoxy, it would have been better to be very specific about what defines a “qualified spiritual director”.

  2. Robert_H says:

    […] such as those who are divorced and civilly remarried and those who are in same-sex government marriages […]

    Government cheese, government housing, government schools.

    Now government marriage.

    The pattern holds.

  3. Robert_H says:

    On a serious note, while I agree with Card. Arinze that we don’t need the Vatican to tell us that something is wrong, I do think it is the job of the local bishop to play “whack-a-mole” with heretical/immoral/schismatic ideas that pop up in his diocese. I wish more bishops would use the local media to explain Catholic teaching, rather than just their diocesan newspapers or such.

  4. Pingback: Bp. Paprocki explains denial of Communion for manifest grave sinners | Fr. Z’s Blog | Deaconjohn1987's Blog

  5. LarryW2LJ says:

    Unfortunately, people like Mr. Freml will turn a deaf ear to the Truth that Bishop Paprocki so rightfully teaches. They feel that a certain member of the clergy has given them the license they wanted and they will continue to interpret that as they see fit. This is why incorrect teaching is so damaging! All we can do is pray for their souls, that they will see the Light and Truth, repent and return to God’s path. Many Divine Mercy chaplets will be needed.

  6. tz2026 says:

    One point is the “public” nature of the problem, if a gay couple walks up wearing rainbow sashes holding hands it requires a response.
    It would help if they would also deny public figures like Nancy Pelosi.

    One thing bothers me. If I find a holy wife, we go through all the preparation, we are both clearly faithful, everything is acceptable as far as the church is concerned, and we show up on the wedding day, will the priest refuse to perform the ceremony – If I don’t get a civil marriage license and go through the government, secular process? I think this was a controversy under the anti-miscegany laws which was the first invasion of the state into church business.

    At what point does the Church lose its own authority when accepting the authority of “Caesar”, i.e. the state to regulate matters? Ought not separation work both ways?

    This is not new, Henry VIII wanted to redefine marriage, and More lost his head over it, along with many others.

    In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said not to give what is holy to dogs. The church had a holy duty to care for the sick – but the Bishops supported Obamacare. The Church has the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, and those who don’t want to cater to gay marriage are in the dog-house. I’m familiar with Subsidiarity, and the rest of Catholic Social teaching, so don’t understand why the USCCB thinks socialism and having the government run things will be any different this time.

    (I think the government should be libertarian and the church socialist, but today it seems most want it the other way around).

  7. JesusFreak84 says:

    And yet ++Cupich will get the red hat and +Paprocki will not =-(

  8. Charles E Flynn says:

    It is fortunate that the translation of the Eucharistic prayer was corrected in time for Bishop Paprocki to quote it to good effect.

  9. rpp says:

    I live is a fairly rural area and not a very Catholic part of the USA. Lots of conservative Evangelical Christians, however. Also, I only moved here a couple of years ago from another part of the country.

    Last week, I attend the Christmas Day Mass rather than my regular Midnight Mass, a first for me in this N.O. Parish. When Holy Communion was being distributed, I saw a man in full drag, gaudy ear rings, unkempt hair, wearing a blouse and skirt and sporting a five-o’clock shadow just so no one would mistake him for an actual woman. He looked to be in his late 50s.

    I did not see if he received the Body of Christ, if he did, he was not in the line where the priest was distributing it. I do not know if he was given it nor, if he was, if he had consumed it.

    I did see him receive the Precious Blood, however, just like everyone else. The EMOHC did not bat an eye or hesitate.

    I felt like a deer-in-the-headlights. I was stunned. A transvestite invading a rural country parish.

    Now I do not normally attend the Mass at this time of day and I did not recognize him. I do not know if it was a one-time thing or if he is a regular.

    As Mass ended, I looked for him, but he had already left. I was so confused I did not mention anything to the priest at that time. This past Sunday, I drove a bit further to attend Mass at a different Parish.

    I do not know what to do. That parish, like so many N.O. parishes, is pretty luke-warm. The priest is a good man, and is a bi-rite priest; Syro-Malabar and Latin as he is from India. He has only been there for less than 2 years and the previous priest was a proponent of ending priestly celibacy.

    Am I wrong to think that the man should have been denied communion as he was clearly objectively in grave public sin at the very moment of presenting himself for Holy Communion.

    Any guidance would be appreciated.

  10. juergensen says:

    Pray for Bishop Paprocki, that he not be “promoted” as was Cardinal Burke.

  11. Mojoron says:

    Being a lapsed Catholic for nearly 35 years and divorced, my current wife said that she would become Catholic (from Lutheranism) if I would try to get my marriage annulled. We both went through the three-year process, she took the necessary preparation classes and our marriage was blessed on 9/12/2001, the day after she came back from NYC seeing her son. The short story is: Fr asked me if I ever had the Eucharist during that time and I said no, I knew it would be wrong, even though I thought about it. He said he doubt if he could stay away 35 years.

    If you really believe in the Holiness of the Eucharist and believe in the church’s teaching, you would never want to betray the Sacrament of Eucharist. Period.

  12. Kerry says:

    Along with our host, and among others, in our daily prayers for Priests, comes “Paprocki..”. Clarity is priceless.

  13. kiwiinamerica says:

    Good that Bp. Paprocki set the record straight but he’s essentially running around the supermarket with a mop and bucket, cleaning up the spills made by American bishops such as Cupich, McElroy, Wuerl et al., and the German, Swiss, Austrian and Belgian bishops not to mention their Argentinian handler and his two Italian bagmen, Baldisseri and Forte. That’s the real issue here. The letter-writer is simply a zoid who’s parroting the talking points coming out of Rome.

    Sadly, Paprocki and faithful Catholic bishops like him are in full-time damage control.

  14. hwriggles4 says:

    I am glad Bishop Paproki addressed this. I dated a nice lady a few years back whom I met on a Catholic online dating site, and I thanked her for taking the time to go through the annulment process (her annulment was granted) BEFORE she began dating again. A GOOD priest that I know (Fr. Z would probably agree) that if a previously married Catholic (unless widowed) has not received an annulment, they should not be dating, because in the eyes of the Church, they are still married. (Sidebar: I was a witness in an annulment case (not hers), and I learned a great deal about the process. I also turned in nineteen pages of essays that took more than a weekend to complete.)

    That said, I wish more priests and more bishops would take the time to discuss these issues. Why? Because several of the flock at Sunday Mass either does not comprehend this teaching, or it is ignored. I wouldn’t be surprised if at a suburban parish on Sunday there are parishioners receiving communion whose second marriage was performed by either a Protestant minister or a Justice of the Peace, and a decree of nullity has not been received. Honestly, it is sad that there are probably some priests (some, not all) who are indifferent about this, and there are Catholics who are involved in parish life who are in these situations.

    After learning more about the annulment process, I have acquired a new found respect for the divorced mother who is living chastely and trying to raise her children up correctly. I also knew two single fathers who were doing the same, and one of these fathers had sole custody of his son.

  15. Midwest St. Michael says:

    rpp says: “Am I wrong to think that the man should have been denied communion as he was clearly objectively in grave public sin at the very moment of presenting himself for Holy Communion.”

    No sir/madam, you are *not* wrong at all. Yet, I am merely a layman. I have no… authority at all. But it seems we are quickly heading into times – in my not-so-educated opinion – where the mantra of mercy trumps *any need* for repentance.

    Another for instance: I, too, am at a rural parish. The town’s most prominent doctor, a Catholic living with his girlfriend and a 4th degree Knight, would go and receive Holy Communion every Sunday. A friend’s wife, an EMoHC, gave our Lord’s Precious Blood to this doctor most Sundays. She went to the pastor because she thought that she should refuse this man the Precious Blood (she was, rightly, concerned allowing this man to receive – she did not think it right). The pastor told her that only *he* could do that and that she should continue to give the Precious Blood to this doctor. (?!?) Dear Lord in heaven have mercy.

    From the above entry by Fr. Z and Bp. Paprocki it all boils down to this:

    “When withholding holy Communion from those whose conduct is described in Canon 915, [NB] a minister is not assessing personal “worthiness,” [because it can’t be assessed with moral certainty] but rather, is acting in accord with an age-old sacramental discipline designed to protect both the Sacrament from the risk of possible sacrilege and the faith community from the harm of scandal caused by someone’s public conduct[public!] that is contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ.”

    To reiterate: “…the harm of scandal caused by someone’s public conduct[public!] that is contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ.”

    Is it that hard? Really? I don’t think so.

    Mercy? (oh, I’ll just keep this next thought to myself)

    (rant/off)

    MSM

  16. John the Mad says:

    Mojoron:
    The short story is: Fr asked me if I ever had the Eucharist during that time and I said no, I knew it would be wrong, even though I thought about it. He said he doubt if he could stay away 35 years.
    If you really believe in the Holiness of the Eucharist and believe in the church’s teaching, you would never want to betray the Sacrament of Eucharist. Period.”

    I am humbled by your fidelity to the Body and Blood of Christ. Whatever your faults, you proved with this tale to be a true Catholic in heart and spirit. God bless you and your wife (as an aside, my wife became a Catholic after 23 years of marriage.)

  17. frjim4321 says:

    I think maybe five years of remediation as an auxiliary in Chicago would be appropriate.

  18. Will Elliott says:

    Fr. Jim, are you suggesting Bishop Paprocki serve five years in Chicago as remediation for him or as remediation for Chicago?

  19. organistjason says:

    His Excellency Bishop Paprocki, will most likely, warm the bench, till the present BOR and his hand picked choices that he placed on the Congregation of Bishops (Cardinal Wuerl-example) no longer have executive authority. His Excellency joins an elite group that includes, but not limited to: Raymond Cardinal Burke, Archbishop Alexander Sample, Archbishop Chaput, the Most Extraordinary Ordinary Bishop Morlino and many other prelates that “Speak the Truth in love”. Pray for these Orthodox Bishops. Pray that they will be ready to clean up/pick up the pieces, when their hour comes.

  20. Eugene says:

    Yes how very very sad. Orthodox bishops will continue to be denied greater roles and responsibilities under the current Papacy while heterodox ones like Cupich will continue to be “promoted”…all the while souls will perish

  21. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Fr Jim,

    Whom do you think needs a course as auxiliary to the Archbishop of Chicago?

    a) Bishop Paprocki
    b) Our esteemed host
    c) Your very self
    d) Someone else

    Why would any of these need a remediation course as Auxiliary?
    a) Bishop Paprocki and our host don’t know any real Catholics who really suffer, and going to Chicago will acquaint them with such.
    b) “Remediation” is a polite word for brainwashing, and the machine in Chicago doesn’t just impact politicians.
    c) The person undergoing the remediation would have a felicitous impact on the See of Chicago
    d) None of the above.

  22. taffymycat says:

    to rpp: i was thinking to myself how awful for you to experience that. i am in a rural conservative very beautiful devout parish and lo and behold! yesterday on a wednesday—i try to go to mass 3 times a week and we have no more than 20-30 for weekday noon masses so we all know who the other guy is;—-i saw two guys, one elderly dressed normally, the other i couldnt at first tell if a man or woman, a man haircut a little long but two hoop earrings, wearing a long skirt, tunic, sweater wearing a wedding ring set carrying a leather purse to communion, also wearing a gold necklace, but then giant sz about 13 EEE leather walking shoes no laces but defintely not a womans shoe i have ever seen. i confess i was trying to figure out who or what this creature was albeit discreetly, he/she smiled at me–anyway these are two folks i have never seen here and they then looked around the church after mass…i wondered if they had hoped to be refused communion to make a stink or something but unfortunately our pastor was out and his young holy but callow assistant was saying mass. this young priest didnt refuse and probably would not refuse communion to bozo the clown in full regalia i did not know what to make of it, except wondering if something is up. these are not regulars to my knowledge certainly not to weekday masses. earlier this year my pastor had announced he was a lawbreaker if the law violates higher law–i think indicating he wouldnt be doing any gay marriages, altho this couple were sporting wedding rings. very disturbing i wonder if word will get to our pastor. i wonder if some churches are being set up or targeted in some way, something a priest friend of mine mentioned to me when i described the incident. it was disturbing but also insulting to our church. at least the guy could for one hour take off the stupid earrings and put on a pair of pants out of respect. and none of us women ever needs to take our purse to communion.

  23. frjim4321 says:

    Thanks, Chris, but I have no ambition to become a bishop, and I think I’m pretty safe in that respect.

  24. Michael_Thoma says:

    Fr. Jim,

    Bp. Paprocki was installed in Springfield after having served as Cardinal George’s auxiliary in Chicago. He was in the running for replacing His Eminence as well.

    Some part of me hopes he is being educated in the ways of day-to-day operations in the See of Springfield so that he is well-prepared for a larger See with a red hat.

  25. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Fr Jim,

    So that leaves 3 choices for the first question, and all four for the second.

    I’m truly interested in your answers. If Father Zuhlsdorf wishes us to take this off-combox, my address is stisidore@prolifeamerica.com

  26. frjim4321 says:

    “He was in the running for replacing His Eminence as well.”

    Maybe. Not many people really know those things.

    Nor about other future assignments.

  27. spock says:

    So has His Excellency Archbishop Cupich weighed in on this matter? Clearly his own words are being incorrectly understood right??? What has he said about this ? What will he say about this ?

    Why do I suddenly hear the sound of crickets ??

  28. comedyeye says:

    Robert H
    Excellent point- that the bishops locally should be more public in addressing immoralities. It seems the smaller issues are left alone unless it is already public. For example, I asked my bishop if he would make a statement before the blasphemous Book of Mormon came to town. He didn’t, but instead sent a private email to all the priests indicating that they should not encourage people to go see it.