ASK FATHER: Deny Protestants Communion? Exempt them from the collection!

From a reader…

If Protestants aren’t allowed to receive communion maybe they should not be allowed to put money in the collection plate either. Somehow I think an exception will be made for that.

A couple things occur to me as I read this.

First, reception of Holy Communion is not to be based on the amount you give or do not give to your parish.


That smacks of simony. The buying and sell of sacred things. There is nothing more sacred than the Eucharist.

Also, out of justice if a person receives services from a parish, then a person should contribute to the parish, even if she doesn’t receive Communion.

Even for those of you who “parish shop”… if you are going to some parish which is not your own geographical parish because you like it better, you have an obligation to support it. If you go to some parish for, for example, daily Mass, 5 days a week, then you should support that parish proportionally along with your Sunday geographical parish.

If non-Catholics come to Masses and they receive spiritual benefits, they should, in justice, contribute to the material support of the parish.

However, monetary contribution does not entitle you to sacraments.

Non-Catholics… stay in the pew. If you are attending Mass regularly, contribute.

That said…

Isn’t it time to be received into the Catholic Church?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. ChrisJ says:

    Join the party. You won’t regret it!

  2. Eric says:

    “Isn’t it time to be received into the Catholic Church?”

    I’m not familiar with the rules, but doesn’t one have to pass a logic test before entering full communion?

  3. Thomas Stewart says:

    Sadly, the desire to keep the contributions of the unobservant and dissenting is in large part the motivation for the “innovations” from the German church. German churches are supported by taxation, so the prelates seeking money don’t need the faithful to actually be faithful, or even show up. Those Bishops just need to avoid upsetting them enough that they formally withdraw their support for the Church on their tax forms. So they say supportive things to the homosexuals, libertines, civilly-divorced and remarried, female clergy activists, and all the rest of the modern heretics and schismatics, for fear they will make that change and take their tax money somewhere else. But those who withdrew the tax money but actually faithfully attend Mass receive far less love and understanding, being forbidden to take part in many ministries. So much for tolerance. Doctrinal rigor is insufficiently lucrative, those mansions won’t build themselves.

  4. StWinefride says:

    Fr Z says: “That smacks of simony. The buying and sell of sacred things.”

    It’s my understanding that selling candles (blessed at Candlemas) at cost price is not simony. I took some candles to a neighbouring country for a TLM Candlemas last year, and as a favour to my fellow parishioners, who couldn’t attend, brought them back blessed and sold some of them at cost price. I had sent out an email saying I would do this (copied to our Priest) and also suggested people bring in their own candles on the Sunday prior so I could take them with me. I did wonder afterwards, if some people may have thought that selling blessed candles was simony and in retrospect, to avoid scandal, I realise that I should have made it clear in the email that the candles were being sold at cost price.

    A Blessed Candlemas to all!

  5. Doesn’t St Paul, quoting our Lord, say that “it is better to give than to receive”? (Acts 20:35)

  6. cwillia1 says:

    There is a mentality among some individualistic, pietistic Americans that a church is a business that provides services. If you like the preacher-entrepreneur and the music and the services make you feel close to God then you should put some money in the plate. I think this is rooted in history – frontier America was evangelized by itinerant free-agent preachers who passed the plate. Making a pledge is like joining Sam’s club. If you think this way, customers who are discriminated against should not be expected to pay. I have in-laws with this attitude. It is behind the bizarre phenomenon of wedding chapel businesses run by Christian ministers.

  7. Volanges says:

    Thomas Stewart — How can you be a faithful Catholic if you publicly deny that you are one? I don’t care if you’re on you’re in church every Sunday, if you publicly renounce your faith to avoid paying a tax, just how much faith do you really have?

  8. avatquevale says:

    Volanges and Thomas Stewart

    The German Church could be called a big business, if it were not so extortionist. To attract an affluent demographic and fill the coffers, they will bend tradition and doctrine like boiled spaghetti.

    Those who stop paying the church tax are denied the sacraments. Simony, anyone?

  9. Imrahil says:

    Dear avatquevale,

    what Volanges said (and repeating myself as well): The sacraments get denied to him who, in all official formality, gets to a registrary and states, writes and undersigns the declaration: “I hereby cease to belong to the Roman Catholic Church.”

    That should be enough to get the Sacraments denied, shouldn’t it.

  10. avatquevale says:


    Those who believe in separation of church and state might wonder why one should be obliged to report their religion to the state/government officials.

    See “Bad News From Deutschland) by the excellent Father Gerald Murray.

    or more on Germany’s Pay to Pray regime:

  11. Deacon Don says:

    I attended the retirement service of a good friend and pastor of a Presbyterian congregation last year. As the time for the morning offering came there was an interesting announcement that went something like this … “We now present to God our tithes and offerings. If you are visitor with us today we want you to know that these sacrificial gifts come from our church members and as our guest this morning we ask that you not feel obligated or required to make an contribution to our parish ministry … in fact, since you are our welcomed guests we would prefer if you simply passed the basket to the person next to you.”

    That was a point noted and taken.

  12. seanc says:

    @Thomas Stewart:

    “… But those who withdrew the tax money but actually faithfully attend Mass receive far less love and understanding, being forbidden to take part in many ministries. …”

    Is the Church notified when someone withdraws their support? If they are notified, does each parish go through the list of people who withdrew and systematically exclude those people from ministries? Or, would this be done on more of an “ad hoc” basis (i.e. if the pastor somehow hears about a parishioner having withdrawn their support, they would determine how to respond on a case-by-case basis)?

    I don’t know how the ‘religious tax’ works in Germany, so please forgive my ignorance.

  13. DavidJ says:

    Fr. Z, you really shouldn’t feed the trolls.

  14. MarylandBill says:

    Given that the collection in the Catholic Church is generally voluntary (except in those areas where the Church receives support from the state through taxation), I am not sure how the Church is suppose to exempt Protestants who attend a Catholic Church. Back when I was an usher, I can tell you that probably only about half the families/individuals who attended mass would give at any given mass. There might have been 1000 reasons for that… some might have given a nice big gift once a year, or perhaps they were short that week, etc. Now with electronic giving, I am sure even fewer put money in the basket (My family gives electronically, but I give my kids a dollar each to put in the basket so they get in the habit of giving). The ushers don’t note who gives or not, and the priest doesn’t know either since some people give without using envelopes.

  15. wised says:

    Aren’t they Protestants because they protest Catholicism? Does the questioner really care or are they just exercising their passive aggressive tendencies? Presenting oneself to receive the Eucharist when undeserving(for any reason) is a form of protest against Catholic theology. Donating to a cause or institution is an affirmation of acceptance of that cause or institution. Belonging and believing could be steps to untimately accepting.

  16. Imrahil says:

    Dear seanc,

    as far as I know, they do get notified. In any case, this kind of thing isn’t usually done by people actually active in ministries (or Church-employed). It usually becomes well-known, not least because the people who do it tend to be vocal about it.

    Dear avatquevale,

    those who believe in separation of Church and State

    (and it was you who said “believe in”; interestingly, not “recognize as the current order of things in country XYZ”, but “believe in”)

    should, perhaps, answer the questions:

    1. what they say about the fact that the Church disagrees with them (see Syllabus no. 55 – and no, that particular thing has never even been touched by a later magisterial document)

    2. how, even if it was granted arguendo that the State acted ultra vires in asking such questions, they could justify in conscience to deny their faith upon being asked, or refuse to confess it upon being asked.

  17. JesusFreak84 says:

    Isn’t this what happens in Germany? Don’t pay your “church tax,” no Sacraments for you! Ugh…

  18. Volanges says:

    seanc — Yes, when they notify the government that they are no longer Catholic, the Church is notified and their apostasy is noted in their baptismal record. They are then no longer able to receive the sacraments — not because of money but because of apostasy.

  19. Imrahil says:

    Well, dear Volanges, let’s say schism. What they do doesn’t constitute proof that they’ve explicitly said no to our Lord himself, viz. are apostates, (or, for that matter, that they deny a dogma): but it does constitute proof that they don’t identify as Roman Catholics, viz. are schismatics.

  20. jhayes says:

    Imrahil wrote the fact that the Church disagrees with them (see Syllabus no. 55 – and no, that particular thing has never even been touched by a later magisterial document)

    Imrahil, Syllabus #55 says (my insertion in brackets)

    “55. The Church ought to be separated from the State, and the State from the Church.— [as discussed in] Allocution “Acerbissimum” September 27, 1852. ”

    Before becoming Pope, Benedict had described Dignitatus Humanae as “a sort of anti-Syllabus.” After becoming Pope, he gave a Christmas Address (2005) to the Curia, in which he explained the need to distinguish between principles and contingent applications of those principles in prior papal statements. The “separation of Church and state” Pius IX condemned was a kind specific to his time.

    In the 19th century under Pius IX, the clash between the Church’s faith and a radical liberalism and the natural sciences, which also claimed to embrace with their knowledge the whole of reality to its limit, stubbornly proposing to make the “hypothesis of God” superfluous, had elicited from the Church a bitter and radical condemnation of this spirit of the modern age. Thus, it seemed that there was no longer any milieu open to a positive and fruitful understanding, and the rejection by those who felt they were the representatives of the modern era was also drastic.

    In the meantime, however, the modern age had also experienced developments. People came to realize that the American Revolution was offering a model of a modern State that differed from the theoretical model with radical tendencies that had emerged during the second phase of the French Revolution….

    [I]t was necessary to give a new definition to the relationship between the Church and the modern State that would make room impartially for citizens of various religions and ideologies, merely assuming responsibility for an orderly and tolerant coexistence among them and for the freedom to practise their own religion….

    It is precisely in this combination of continuity and discontinuity at different levels that the very nature of true reform consists. In this process of innovation in continuity we must learn to understand more practically than before that the Church’s decisions on contingent matters – for example, certain practical forms of liberalism or a free interpretation of the Bible – should necessarily be contingent themselves, precisely because they refer to a specific reality that is changeable in itself. It was necessary to learn to recognize that in these decisions it is only the principles that express the permanent aspect, since they remain as an undercurrent, motivating decisions from within.

    On the other hand, not so permanent are the practical forms that depend on the historical situation and are therefore subject to change.

    Basic decisions, therefore, continue to be well-grounded, whereas the way they are applied to new contexts can change. Thus, for example, if religious freedom were to be considered an expression of the human inability to discover the truth and thus become a canonization of relativism, then this social and historical necessity is raised inappropriately to the metaphysical level and thus stripped of its true meaning. Consequently, it cannot be accepted by those who believe that the human person is capable of knowing the truth about God and, on the basis of the inner dignity of the truth, is bound to this knowledge.

    It is quite different, on the other hand, to perceive religious freedom as a need that derives from human coexistence, or indeed, as an intrinsic consequence of the truth that cannot be externally imposed but that the person must adopt only through the process of conviction.

    The Second Vatican Council, recognizing and making its own an essential principle of the modern State with the Decree on Religious Freedom, has recovered the deepest patrimony of the Church. By so doing she can be conscious of being in full harmony with the teaching of Jesus himself (cf. Mt 22: 21), as well as with the Church of the martyrs of all time. The ancient Church naturally prayed for the emperors and political leaders out of duty (cf. I Tm 2: 2); but while she prayed for the emperors, she refused to worship them and thereby clearly rejected the religion of the State…..

    The Second Vatican Council, with its new definition of the relationship between the faith of the Church and certain essential elements of modern thought, has reviewed or even corrected certain historical decisions, but in this apparent discontinuity it has actually preserved and deepened her inmost nature and true identity.

  21. JuliB says:

    MarylandBill – there’s a spot on our collection envelopes to indicate that one gives electronically. This way I show that I both support and attend!

    The Bible makes clear that we are to support our Church. Even Deut. has instructions on tithing so that the Levites who had no ‘hereditary portion’.

    Personally, I wouldn’t give at a collection of a non-Catholic Church, nor would I expect any non-Catholic to give.

  22. Jeannie_C says:

    A portion of what we give as Catholics goes to various charities identified by our Bishop’s Appeal. These are Catholic as well as secular charities. What goes towards the Food Bank isn’t earmarked “For Catholic Stomachs Only”, so keep that in mind when you decide whether or not to give. You never know when the next in need of a food hamper might be someone close to you, or you yourself.

    Also, the Eucharist is among other things the supreme symbol of our unity as Roman Catholics. If you want to join in our unity please do sign up, take the courses to inform yourself of our beliefs and teachings and welcome to the Church founded by Jesus Christ. If you’re simply a troll then thanks for stopping by, you gave someone else a rest.

  23. Mr. Graves says:

    The Kirchensteuer, or Church Tax, is the German equivalent of the IRS collecting your tithe and distributing it in part to public schools for the purpose of funding heretical, modernist, pro-perversion, anti-life CCD for your kids, who — NB! — you are forbidden by law to educate at home.

    Don’t get sidetracked by the word “apostasy” (seriously?) or concepts of Church and state. The Church Tax is pure, unadulterated evil. That any serious Catholic in Germany is still in the rolls in the real miracle. Young people in the Church in Germany are simply MIA. DS and I have attended Masses all over Europe; in Germany, easily 85 percent of all Sunday services are people of retirement age. That’s it, folks. You might as well shutter the cathedrals now because when this older generation dies, Luther’s victory will be complete in his homeland.

  24. Gail F says:

    I will assume that this is a real question and not a “gotcha” question someone made up thinking his brilliant logic had won the day. No one ever has to give to the Church. If you’re a Protestant married to a Catholic or something, you should give if you can afford to and because you have SOME reason to be there, whatever it is. But we do not, like many Protestant churches, have explicit policies about how much of your income before taxes we expect you to be contributing. Some give a great deal, others very little. Some give more than they can afford, some give nothing at all when they can well afford it. The Catholic Church runs whether anyone donates to it or not (although if no one gives, it won’t run very well!) just as we have Mass whether the church is full or only a handful of people come. Mass is not a ticketed event. If you are sitting the pew fuming about how “those Catholics” will take your money but not give you communion, perhaps you should not contribute for a while — or, if you feel guilty about that, give your money to a particular parish project or charity (a capital campaign, food pantry, outreach program, etc.) but NOT at weekly Mass. Go for a while “for free” and see that you are treated exactly the same.

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