I know an EMHC who once was instructed after Mass to pour, and did pour, the remaining (there was a lot) Precious Blood in the sacrarium.
This EMHC will be attending a pilgrimage this weekend at which a missionary of mercy (MoM) will be hearing confessions. At the time, this EMHC was distraught but did not know what she did was wrong. [There’s a disconnect here. Why be distraught if she didn’t think it was wrong?] I understand this was confessed later, but should I encourage this person to visit the MoM?
You cannot pour the Precious Blood down a drain or sacrarium. You cannot “throw away” a Host. Someone who “throws away” the Eucharist, either by, for example, simply tossing a consecrated Host in the garbage, or putting it down the sacrarium, or pouring the Precious Blood down a sink or sacrarium, knowing that it is wrong to do, runs the risk of incurring a latae sententiae excommunication, the lifting of which is reserved to the Holy See alone. The sin is forgiven in confession (since there are no more reserved sins). The censure of excommunication, however, is under normal circumstances reserved to the Holy See. In the Year of Mercy, certain priest confessors (“Missionaries of Mercy”) have been given the faculty to lift this censure without recourse to the Holy See.
In the Latin Code of Canon Law we find:
can. 1367: Qui species consecratas abicit aut in sacrilegum finem abducit vel retinet in excommunicationem latae sententiae Sedi Apostolicae reservatam incurrit; clericus praeterea alia poena, non exclusa dimissione e statu clericali, puniri potest … A person who throws away the consecrated species or takes or retains them for a sacrilegious purpose incurs a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; moreover, a cleric can be punished with another penalty, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state..
The word abicit, abicere, means here “throw away”, and this was clarified by the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, at their plenary session on 4 June 1999, as not … not… being restricted to “throw away” in a spirit of contempt, or intent to do dishonor. It really does mean “throw away”, which is what happens when you put a consecrated Host or the Precious Blood down a sacrarium without first making sure that the substance of the same is first broken down (by dissolving). Precious Blood, of course, should be consumed.
That said, in the case of any objectively sinful act which incurs an excommunication (e.g. throwing away the Eucharist), there are always the circumstances to be considered (e.g., the person’s will and knowledge, external compulsion, fear, etc.).
Redemptionis Sacramentum distinguished different levels of liturgical abuses. The worst are in the category graviora delicata (graver crimes). Among the graviora delicta is throwing away the Eucharist (cf. RS 172). This grave crime is reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
From what you wrote I would say that, probably, No, she did not incur the penalty. She was following the direction of another person whom she deemed had authority. You say she was “distraught”. To incur such a penalty, one must commit a mortal sin in the act. She did not have the obligation to know the truth about throwing away the Sacrament. The sacristan and the priests do! She was acting, probably, in innocent ignorance. The sacristan and priests, if they don’t know the law and theology of this matter, are in a state of culpable ignorance. They are obliged to know this stuff.
I suspect that someone has incurred a censure, but not her.
Also, if there is risk of profanation of the Precious Blood – and it sounds as if there is at that parish – then Communion under both species should be stopped.
But, for a moment let’s assume that she did incur the censure, which is automatic excommunication. Another result would be, if committed by a male, that man would be irregular to receive Holy Orders licitly.
She could go to Rome, to the offices of the Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary, which has competence in this and the authority to lift the censure. Otherwise, she could explain the situation to a savvy priest confessor who knows how to write to the Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary. He would write a letter to describe the situation – using total anonymity in her regard – and then receive back from them the faculty to lift the censure the next time she came back to him as a confessor.
If a cleric did this horrid thing, and you incurred the censure of excommunication, he would be suspended instantly by the very fact of doing it if, in doing it, he committed the mortal sin in full knowledge and will. He could function as a cleric, for example say Mass and hear confessions if a priest, only if he had started the process of getting that censure lifted.
BUT… if other people saw you do it, saw you doing it all the time, and they knew she knew it was wrong because she was told or she had read it, etc., then it would be possible that someone could denounce her to the CDF. A canonical process could started in her regard, under the new norms for graviora delicta.
Bottom line…. DO NOT pour the Precious Blood down a sacrarium or drain or anywhere else. It ought to be consumed.
If she has contact with one of these Missionaries of Mercy, she could bring this up in confession, explaining the necessary circumstances (i.e., being told to do it, being distraught, etc.). The confessor would them be able to make a judgment and, if necessary, lift any censure she might have incurred.