Shared Communion with Protestants? Sacrilege and Blasphemy


From a friend in email:

It would seem to make little difference in pastoral practice at this point, I think, to admit Lutherans to Communion:  most of our own Catholic people don’t believe in the Real Presence and probably are approaching without the requisite dispositions — they probably have not been to confession in a long time and are not in a state of grace.

You are dead on right.   Many of the people in our pews are de facto Protestants… if they are Christian at all.

That said, we must resist any formalizing of indifference to Catholic doctrine and identity.

___ ORIGINAL  Published on: Jan 3, 2017 ___

I suspect that this topic will heat up during this next year, 2017, especially in light of the anniversary of the Protestant revolt.

From Edward Pentin at National Catholic Register:

Theologian: Shared Communion With Protestants Would be Blasphemy and Sacrilege
Msgr. Nicola Bux reflects on the possibility this pontificate is sympathetic to Protestant theologian Jürgen Moltmann’s theory of “open Communion.”

If the Church were to change its rules on shared Eucharistic Communion it would “go against Revelation and the Magisterium”, leading Christians to “commit blasphemy and sacrilege,” an Italian theologian has warned.

Drawing on the Church’s teaching based on Sacred Scripture and Tradition, Msgr. Nicola Bux, a former consulter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, stressed that non-Catholic Christians must have undertaken baptism and confirmation in the Catholic Church, and repented of grave sin through sacramental confession, in order to be able to receive Jesus in the Eucharist.

Msgr. Bux was responding to the Register about concerns that elements of the current pontificate might be sympathetic of a form of “open Communion” proposed by the German Protestant theologian, Jürgen Moltmann.

The concerns have arisen primarily due to the Holy Father’s own comments on Holy Communion and Lutherans, his apparent support for some remarried divorcees to receive Holy Communion, and how others have used his frequently repeated maximabout the Eucharist: that it is “not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.”

The debate specifically over intercommunion with Christian denominations follows recent remarks by Cardinal Walter Kasper[I’ll bet you are shocked to find his name in this piece.] who, in a Dec. 10 interview with Avvenire, said he hopes Pope Francis’ next declaration will open the way for intercommunion with other denominations “in special cases.”

The German theologian said shared Eucharistic communion is just a matter of time, and that the Pope’s recent participation in the Reformation commemoration in Lund has given “a new thrust” to the “ecumenical process.”


I look forward to inter-Communion and hope to be able to distribute the Eucharist to as many former Protestants as possible after their conversion.

That’s the only way this priest will ever do it.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Hard-Identity Catholicism, Liberals, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Pò sì jiù, You must be joking! and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Back in the 80s, there was a weekend retreat called “The Awakening”. My brother, who has since left the Church, was a large figure in this. His good friend was the Priest spear heading this retreat. This priest is now a Bishop.

    Anyway, he bugged me until I finally made a weekend. At the Mass on Sunday that priest said, “If you aren’t Catholic but believe in your heart that this is really Jesus, you may come up and receive.” I almost went through the floor. After the weekend I told my brother that this was not acceptable and I quit being involved. I let anyone who asked know why. That “Bishop” is very questionable in the things he has said and done. No wonder my brother left the Church. Why follow the laws if even a bishop can break them.

  2. Pigeon says:

    “[Kasper] hopes Pope Francis’ next declaration will open the way for intercommunion with other denominations ‘in special cases.'”

    It looks like there’s already some “special cases” allowed for:

    “Can. 844§4. If the danger of death is present or if, in the judgment of the diocesan bishop or conference of bishops, some other grave necessity urges it, Catholic ministers administer these same sacraments licitly also to other Christians not having full communion with the Catholic Church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who seek such on their own accord, provided that they manifest Catholic faith in respect to these sacraments and are properly disposed.”

    Exactly what other special cases is he talking about?

  3. Michael_Thoma says:

    Special cases include Orthodox, Assyrian Churches, PNCC and similar bodies that maintained the Apostolic Faith. Outside of some small segment of Anglicanism and perhaps a tiny sliver of Lutheranism, no protestant community manifests Catholic faith. Perhaps, in regard to protestants, this limited exception is actually deathbed conversion.

  4. APX says:


    That’s for Orthodox Protestants.

  5. Moro says:

    I see an external commission coming…..

  6. Gerard Plourde says:

    It is my understanding that the Church has always taught that because of their shared understanding of the Real Presence that members of the Orthodox Churches and the Polish National Catholic Church have always been permitted to receive, despite their schismatic status. Would this logic also apply to Anglo-Catholic members of the Anglican Communion who accept that Transubstantiation occurs? Or Lutherans,whose understanding traditionally accepted the Real and Physical Presence of Our Lord? Consubstantiation is an error in the sense that it holds that the elements exist in their original state along with the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, but the essential recognition that Our Lord is present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity is part of Lutheran belief as taught by Luther himself. Does the lack of valid Holy Orders in the Protestant churches and their consequent inability to confect the Sacrament enter into the problem? I find myself not competent to judge any of these complex issues, but in obedience will accept what the Church teaches.

  7. mburn16 says:

    “stressed that non-Catholic Christians must have undertaken baptism and confirmation in the Catholic Church, and repented of grave sin through sacramental confession, in order to be able to receive Jesus in the Eucharist”

    What, precisely, is a “non-Catholic” who has been baptized, confirmed, and absolved in the Catholic Church? It appears as though he tripped over his own thought.

    My understanding was that the Eucharist could be shared with permission with those Protestants who 1) requested it, and 2) professed a shared view of the sacrament? In practice that usually means the Orthodox but there have been other cases. The founder of the Taize community comes to mind.

  8. un-ionized says:

    Gerard, it is my understanding that a major problem with consubstantiation is that it goes away when the worship service ends, which is why Lutherans can’t/don’t reserve the consecrated elements. They can just be disposed of.

  9. Lepidus says:

    Gerard, I think another reason with Orthodox vs. Lutherans is that a person Orthodox parish actually does receive the Body of Christ. Due to the Schism they are not in communion with the Church, but transubstantiation actually takes place. With Lutherans, they might believe that they are receiving the Body of Christ, but in reality they are not. Therefore, allowing them to receive in the Church creates confusion that is not there with the Orthodox.

  10. gracie says:

    “Msgr. Nicola Bux . . . stressed that non-Catholic Christians must have undertaken baptism and confirmation in the Catholic Church . . . ”

    That doesn’t make sense. If Catholics don’t have to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, why would non-Catholics have to?

  11. vetusta ecclesia says:

    “Special cases”: we all know what that leads to.

  12. Kerry says:

    As certain protestants believe the Most Blessed Sacrament is no more than a symbol I’d suggest this solution. Equip the EMHC’s with a round cookie cutter, a small plywood board and several loaves of Wonder Bread, (“With the red, yellow and blue balloons!”). Flatten out a few slices, cut and hand out the little white circles as needed. What could possibly go wrong..just a symbol, right?

  13. un-ionized says:

    Kerry, helps build strong bodies 12 ways!

  14. Stephanus83 says:


    My wife is Russian Orthodox and we live in a part of the United States that doesn’t have an Orthodox Church even remotely close to us. I asked my Pastor if she was allowed to receive in the Catholic Church since there is no Orthodox Church available and he said yes. My wife follows the Orthodox fasting rules prior to reception of the Eucharist, but she receives the Eucharist from a Catholic Priest after having received permission from him (and presumably the Bishop). This personal situation is an example of a special case.

  15. aquinas138 says:

    Gerard, I don’t think it’s the case that the Church “always” permitted Orthodox and PNCC members to receive Communion; I think that really begins with the 1983 Code. Canon 731 §2 of the 1917 Code says:

    “Vetitum est Sacramenta Ecclesiae ministrare haereticis aut schismaticis, etiam bona fide errantibus eaque petentibus, nisi prius, erroribus reiectis, Ecclesiae reconciliati fuerint.”

    “It is forbidden to administer the sacraments of the Church to heretics or schismatics, even though they err in good faith and ask for them, unless they have first renounced their errors and been reconciled with the Church.”

  16. Tom A. says:

    A good modernist could use this wiggle room to justify whatever he wanted to. That is standard for post V2 documents.

  17. Nan says:

    @gracie, converts are received into the Church with all sacraments of initiation at the same Mass. If they haven’t been baptized in Trinitarian format, they’re baptized, confirmed and receive the Eucharist. I wasn’t confirmed as a child, and a recent convert acting as someone’s sponsor questioned why I’d been allowed to receive communion before confirmation. She had no idea that cradle Catholics received their sacraments in a different order than she had.

  18. Traductora says:

    Stephanus, the Orthodox are NOT Protestants. There’s never been any question about their sacraments, including ordination and the Eucharist. Actually, it’s the Orthodox (whom we consider schismatic) who are more adamant about this and generally will not let Catholics go to Communion in their churches.

    That said, I think Francis is going to do a major stunt with “intercommunion” between Catholics and, at first, Lutherans. He’ll move on from there. But you have to realize that Lutherans do not have the same beliefs (Orthodox or Catholic) about the sacraments, the Real Presence, etc. and while there may be some cases of validly ordained priests – that is, ordained by a chain of bishops in apostolic succession – I think it’s pretty uncommon by now. And certainly not the case of the Lutheran lesbian “bishop” to whom Francis gave communion on his visit…

  19. Nan says:

    @gerard plourde, I think the schism has been lifted.

  20. neaniskos says:

    Another problem with giving communion to Protestants is that Protestant churches don’t have sacramental confession. How many Christians who have never gone to confession would be properly disposed to receiving the blessed sacrament? I certainly wouldn’t without confession.

  21. Cantor says:

    I get concerned by quotes such as this in the original article:

    If the Church were to change its rules on shared Eucharistic Communion it would “go against Revelation and the Magisterium”…

    Then what is the Magisterium? Is it not the teaching authority of the Church? Is it not a living entity? Is the writer claiming that a modern Church lacks the authority to change its rules and practices because some earlier group already wrote that rule or practice? This all begins to sound a bit like the Sadducees and Pharisees sparring for the fun of it.

  22. Nan says:

    @Kerry, necco wafers would be a less cumbersome substitute. Simply separate the white ones to use.

  23. Amerikaner says:

    I see an attempted rewrite of the cathecism coming…

  24. alanphipps says:

    “reflects on the possibility”

    It seems to be a pattern with Pentin to engage in or facilitate speculation that accomplishes little more than stoking fears and worries, real or imagined. It tends toward a type of sensationalism. I don’t like the direction EWTN has been going. However, yes, we must report on the news.

  25. David in T.O. says:

    Here is a newspaper article from The Windsor Star.,762230&hl=en

    It is of then Deacon Thomas J. Rosica, now Father Rosica, and a sometimes Vatican spox and Consultor to the Pontifical Council on Social Communications. He preached intercommunion way back in 1986.

    What’s the problem?

  26. un-ionized says:

    Nan, for a particular sinful person like me the licorice Necco wafers would be appropriate.

  27. chantgirl says:

    Communion for those living in a public, persistent state of adultery is only the beginning. Fr. Pilon explains it well:

  28. scotus says:

    In 1998 the Bishops Conferences of England & Wales and Scotland issued a document called One Bread, One Body. This mentioned situations where it might be possible for a non-Catholic to be given Communion in a Catholic church. It says:
    83) Inspired by such a vision of Christian married life, a couple in a mixed marriage may well have a strong desire to receive Holy Communion together, to be fully united at the Lord’s table. The Directory identifies such marriages as possible situations when in certain circumstances the Catholic Church may admit the non-Catholic partner to Holy Communion.
    It gives the source of this as the Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism, no. 159.
    This states:
    159. Because of problems concerning Eucharistic sharing which may arise from the presence of non-Catholic witnesses and guests, a mixed marriage celebrated according to the Catholic form ordinarily takes place outside the Eucharistic liturgy. For a just cause, however, the diocesan Bishop may permit the celebration of the Eucharist.151 In the latter case, the decision as to whether the non-Catholic party of the marriage may be admitted to Eucharistic communion is to be made in keeping with the general norms existing in the matter both for Eastern Christians 152 and for other Christians,153 taking into account the particular situation of the reception of the sacrament of Christian marriage by two baptized Christians.
    160. Although the spouses in a mixed marriage share the sacraments of baptism and marriage, Eucharistic sharing can only be exceptional and in each case the norms stated above concerning the admission of a non-Catholic Christian to Eucharistic communion,154 as well as those concerning the participation of a Catholic in Eucharistic communion in another Church,155 must be observed.

  29. Absit invidia says:

    Very true points. If the hierarchy can’t get their own Catholic congregations to follow the rules on Holy Communion, how can we expect them to do it with Protestants?

  30. Nan says:

    un-ionized, no you may not have a licorice necco wafer in place of the Eucharist at Mass! Either go to confession or abstain. You can buy necco wafers at the drug store.

  31. OldLady says:

    A writer in the Vatican newspaper suggested that appropriate candidates for cardinal are those who will support the Pope’s “legacy”.
    The Argentian version of the Vatican newspaper is now edited by a Protestant friend of the Pope.
    Pope Francis established the Secretariat for Communications to oversee communications for the Holy See and the Vatican. Kinda surprising after stating that he was going to decentralize the power in the Church but certainly a way to control media flow.
    In 2015 Playmobile issued a figurine of Luther that flew off shelves, “..Overnight little Luther became the fastest-selling item in the company’s 40-year history”.
    Maybe the Pope is on to something? Me, I am just confused.

  32. Kathleen10 says:

    alanphipps, as far as I know Edward Pentin is a highly regarded person who has unique insider status around the Vatican. We certainly do need as much information as possible during these strange and perilous times. As Catholics we need to be informed and keep our eyes open.
    EWTN reaches a huge, global Catholic audience, most of them who are fast asleep, with little to no idea their faith is being yanked out from under them. EWTN would do well to discontinue cheerleading for the pope and provide reality based information on the increasing division in our church. It’s not an easy topic certainly, but it’s necessary. Catholics are horribly uninformed.

  33. gracie says:


    The point I was trying to make is that Catholics aren’t required to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. Ever. So why is Msgr. Bux saying they are?

  34. Ultrarunner says:

    If Catholic priests actually practiced the kind of futuristic discretion Father Z would apply to Protestants by strictly limiting Communion to the very small number of Catholics living in an actual state of grace today, the very idea of Communion for the divorced and remarried, et el, would die at inception.

    As it is, Catholic priests do not deny Communion to those who present themselves to receive. Absolved or not not. Remarried or not. Catholic or not.

    Which is why we find ourselves at the confluence of Tradition, Doctrine, and the Papacy, while the Eastern Orthodox and the Protestants sit on the bank high and dry and undoubtedly feeling pretty good about their centuries old decisions right now.

  35. Semper Gumby says:

    Kerry is on to something here. It is unfortunate that some of our shepherds are wayward shepherds, and at times take their cue from Monty Python: “it’s only a wafer-thin mint.” Deo Gratias for Fr. Z and all the good shepherds out there holding the line.

  36. MitisVis says:

    This is ultimately where all other attacks against the church have been building. Attacks against scripture, tradition, the Mass, the family, doctrine and priests all lead up to the attack against Christ himself in the Real Presence. Much like watching movies has dimmed our senses to violence and sexual content, the sacred and Holy has been diminished. Just by bringing up the discussion we would declare to the whole world we are as they suspected, complete fools as we don’t even know what we believe, let alone what God has revealed. To us in the church the confusion is disheartening given the lack of understanding the average catholic has been given. Should any such “dialogue” as this gain traction (and I suspect it might) the outcry must be so loud it would echo in both church and secular history.

  37. un-ionized says:

    Un-ionized enters the confessional, head hanging. Sucking on a breath mint.

  38. Someone please be the Garrigue says:

    I think every parish ought to keep a stash of cookies for just such occasions.

    Quoth the solitary sparrow…

    If your view of The Sacrament of the Altar (cf. Thomas a Kempis) is the communal sharing of cookies, or if you belong to a tradition or ecclesial community in which everyone routinely “takes communion”, then please take a cookie, but please don’t drop too many crumbs. If you find this reasonable offer ratheuuur patronising, then please “breathe deeply, and don’t stop taking the tablets.” :-)

    If you truly believe in the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord, wholly and substantially (cf. Trent, and probably Vatican II), and are of the required disposition to worthily receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion, then you may indeed *receive* the Body and Blood of Our Lord in the Sacrifice of the Mass. You may receive under one kind or both – but don’t forget that either is, after all, both. [If you are medically diagnosed coeliac then of course the chalice may be your only option and we can make arrangements.] If you receive in the hand, then please take care to consume any particles that inevitably cling to your hand — particles are not crumbs. But please leave cookies for ecumenical purposes.

    If you are of a variety of protestant or (small c catholic) who refers to the Body (and blood, and soul and divinity) of Our Lord Jesus Christ as a “cookie”, then you MAY NOT receive communion in God’s holy Church, and you also forfeit your right to the complimentary ecumenical cookies. And don’t bother showing up for doughnuts either because you are most certainly not a “saved pusson” (cf. the famous Eccles’ blog).

    Finally, we have to advise you not to play dangerous games with your immortal soul. If nothing else, we are not insured against Act of God.

  39. Kerry says:

    Lest my levity about the “red, yellow and blue balloons” be misinterpreted, this (new Catholic) writer approaches the kneeler with apprehension and awe.

  40. Sonshine135 says:

    Heretics, schismatics, and Catholics that have fallen out of grace do not receive the body and blood of our Lord, lest they drink a cup of condemnation upon themselves. Much more so the Priest who does so knowingly. Love of the Holy Eucharist and desire to obtain it should be a inspiration for us to live lives that are in “communion” with Holy Mother Church.

  41. jaykay says:

    Ultrarunner: but how might a priest, except perhaps in a very small community where everyone knows everyone’s situation, actually know who’s in a state of grace or not? That’s an impossibly high bar to apply. In fact, only God can know who really is in that (happy) state. Ok, most of us observing all the laws who receive hope we are, and mostly I think actually are, I hope!, but really it’s a 2-way street. We are responsible for our selves, our own dispositions. We can’t place the burden entirely on our Priests while they, if they really know a person not to be worthy to receive, of course should withhold.

    Says he. I thank God I don’t have that burden. And I hope I’m not misinterpreting you. My take, anyway.

  42. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    John Goggin’s interesting 1907 Catholic Encyclopedia article, “Liturgical Use of Bread”, discusses “bread […] called eulogia, because it is blessed and because a blessing accompanies its use; it is also called antidoron, because it is a substitute for the doron, the real gift, which is the Holy Eucharist. The eulogia is prescribed in the liturgies of St. Basil and St. John Chrysostom, but now it is distributed to all, both communicants and non-communicants. It existed also in the West, and is mentioned by St. Gregory of Tours, the Council of Nantes, and Leo IV, in terms which would make it appear a somewhat universal custom.”

    And further, “Later, when the faithful no longer furnished the altar-bread, a custom arose of bringing bread to the church for the special purpose of having it blessed and distributed among those present as token of mutual love and union, and this custom still exists in the Western Church, especially in France. This blessed bread was called panis benedictus, panis lustratus, panis lustralis, and is now known in France as pain bénit. It differs from the eulogia mentioned above, because it is not a part of the oblation from which the particle to be consecrated in the Mass is selected, but rather is common bread which receives a special benediction. […] Within the last twenty-five and thirty years the custom has almost entirely disappeared.”

    This 1907 article seems to suggest that only the Faithful would receive the eulogia/antidoron, though its details seem open to the possibility of the ‘panis benedictus’ being shared with ‘guests’, whether at first or second hand.

    Is there any standard contemporary practice among Eastern Catholic churches where the antidoron is concerned: is it shared with any and all present at a celebration of the Divine Liturgy?

    And has any form of ‘panis benedictus’ survived – or been revived – anywhere?

    Kerry’s suggestion seems a sort of imitation of the one or the other – and I suppose, if the Celebrant (Priest or Bishop) had blessed the bread, an EMHC could distribute it in this way, though catechesis concerning it would seem indicated!

  43. SenexCalvus says:

    What evidence is there that Pope Bergoglio gave Communion to a Protestant bishopess? I find that incredible even for him.

  44. un-ionized says:

    VSL, this blessed bread is mentioned by Therese of Lisieux. I forget the incident, but one of the children was upset that they did not get any that particular day (or something). I wondered about this blessed but not consecrated bread until I looked it up. She mentioned that this bread was brought home to share.

  45. gardefoilangueloi says:

    Beautiful article! It answers the question beautifully.

  46. Sword40 says:

    Oh boy, I can hardly wait; a Necco , a bit of the “bubbly” and two verses of “Kumbaya”. What a deal!!!

  47. hwriggles4 says:

    Part of the problem that some posters highlighted is at Sunday Mass, unless the priest, deacon, or EMHC knows the recipient, it is unknown if the recipient is a visitor, a “C and E” Catholic, or a practicing Catholic. The Missal has a guideline for reception of Holy Communion, and some priests will make a short announcement after the Agnus Dei saying that non Catholics cannot receive. In my experience, this is common at weddings, when numerous visitors are present.

    However, at a regular Sunday Mass, I could see a visitor not understanding and just following the crowd at some parishes, but I am sure there are some EMHC’S (some, not all) who are oblivious to the fact the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ, and I am sure some will give Eucharist to anyone. I don’t know if every parish has requirements for EMHC’S- I should know since I was one years ago. It’s only within the last 15 years I learned that a Catholic cannot receive Eucharist in the state of mortal sin. The times I have been in mortal sin, I do not feel left out at Sunday Mass when I stay in the pews and pray.

    I used to think that coming up for blessings was “cool”, but within the past few years I find it a little distracting, particularly when small children come up. I also don’t know what happened to the implementation of Pope Benedict XVI encyclical Sacramentum Caritas, which contained guidelines and information on proper reception of Holy Communion, and things that EMHC’S were not supposed to do, such as bless children. My opinion is that quite a few Chancery Offices ignored or never read Sacramentum Caritas.

  48. CrimsonCatholic says:


    Yeah, because we all know that Protestants left the Church because Catholics not in a state of grace were receiving the Eucharist.

  49. Nan says:

    gracie, Catholics marrying in the Church must be confirmed.

    Venerator St Lot, I can’t speak to anything re: antidoron in the Latin Rite; I have received the blessed bread in Orthodox churches as well as my Eastern Catholic Parish. My understanding is that Prosforo is made (the bread that becomes the eucharist, leavened) and the center is cut out for the Eucharist. The remaining portion is the blessed bread that is given at the end of the liturgy, received after venerating the cross; you go back up as though for communion, kiss the icons, kiss the hand cross, take the blessed bread.

    I’ve seen this only in Greek Catholic or Greek Orthodox church.

  50. Huber says:

    As the smoke clears, I think we’ll find the seat is vacant…

  51. Stephanus83 says:

    Nan, I’ve also witnessed the blessed bread distributed to everyone at the conclusion of the liturgy in a both Byzantine Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches. I don’t know if it’s an Eastern tradition that’s universal, but it’s definitely very wide spread.

  52. Tom A. says:

    Gerard, someone correct me if I am wrong, but I do not believe that the Church always taught that schismatics could recieve Catholic sacraments. I believe this teaching is a post Vatican II accomodation.

  53. Fr. W says:

    Concerning the reception of Confirmation before marriage. Canon 1065 does state that: “Catholics who have not yet received the sacrament of confirmation are to receive it before being admitted to marriage, if this can be done without grave inconvenience.” Since it may well be that an Ordinary does not grant faculties to parish priests to confirm baptized catechized Catholics, reserving the celebration to himself in a once a year “adult confirmation” celebration at the Cathedral, delaying the celebration of matrimony may well be a “grave inconvenience”. Canon Law frequently uses clauses which much be understood fully – for example- “numquam nisi”. Such and such is never to take place….unless…. Lack of confirmation is not an impediment to the valid celebration of marriage and no one may declare as an impediment that which is not expressly stated to be such by Law.

  54. un-ionized says:

    Tom A., it was not a result of Vatican II but a result of negotiation between patriarchs and the Vatican.

  55. un-ionized says:

    I used the word negotiation and it should have been discussions.

  56. hwriggles4 says:

    As far as confirmation, I know at my parish (and some neighboring parishes) that an EMHC must have been confirmed, be a practicing Catholic, and if married, must be married in accordance with the Catholic Church. The same holds true for godparents at baptisms – the information for godparents is advertised in our parish bulletin.

    That said, an EMHC should not be someone who just shows up when they are on the schedule (yes, there are a few that do this, but most attend Mass weekly), someone off the street (at one parish years ago that I attended as a kid there was a Protestant in the choir who often served as an EMHC), a man or a woman living with a boyfriend or girlfriend, someone in a same-sex relationship, or someone who was divorced and re-married either in a Protestant church or a civil ceremony. Now those who are divorced and living chastely, and are either waiting on an annulment (have applied) or have been granted an annulment but have not re-married are following Church teaching, and are welcome to receive Eucharist.

    As a Catholic who regularly attends Sunday Mass, I would rather see less EMHC’s than have a “yeah, whatever” mentality – the “yeah, whatever” mentality de-emphasizes the importance of the Eucharist. As a kid growing up in the 70s and the 80s, I often struggled with “what makes me different” from my Baptist, Methodist (the Methodist Church where I lived had communion once a month, and used grape juice and wafers), and Lutheran friends – many Catholics from that era were poorly catechized, and just went through the motions at Mass.

  57. Gabriel Syme says:


    many Catholics from that era were poorly catechized, and just went through the motions at Mass,

    Indeed I would say that present-day Catholics are surely the most ignorant and poorly-instructed in all history. I don’t claim to be some font of knowledge myself, but I am very aware that (what passed for) my “formation” as a Catholic in the 80s & 90s was absolutely worthless.

    So poor, in fact, that sometimes I struggle to accept it was indeed a genuine effort to instruct & interest me in the Catholic faith and not an act of deliberate malice, specifically designed to put me off.

    And how right you are, when you speak of people “going through the motions”. I now exclusively attend the TLM, but I look at my family and friends who attend the novus ordo. What they understand as mass is constantly in flux, always changing to make their lives easier and make mass seem less important.

    In December, they attended “Christmas vigils” – i.e. Christmas mass at 5pm on Christmas Eve -after all, Midnight Mass is just too late, and how could they be expected to drag themselves away from presents etc on Christmas morning itself? I don’t criticise the lay people themselves, this is what the Dioceses give them and its all they know.

    the “yeah, whatever” mentality de-emphasizes the importance of the Eucharist

    And how!

    One of my most vivid and cherished memories of childhood (of pre-school age) is of being held in my mothers arms as she knelt at a communion rail to receive the Eucharist in the proper fashion. I vividly remember watching as the priest gradually approached us along the rail and then following his outstretched hand, as he reached across to my mother with the host. I remember a sense of wonder and knowing this was something special, even though I didn’t really know what all this was.

    Now, I have a 14 month old daughter and how I love to carry her in my arms as I approach the altar rail. As I kneel, in my peripheral vision, I can see the familiar expression of wide-eyed wonder on her face. I can see her watching the priest as he approaches and her head turning to follow his hand as he places the host on my tongue. After I receive, she sometimes sticks out a tiny finger to try to prise my mouth open, to see what I have in there. But I just smile at her (jaws clamped firmly shut).

    I will jealously guard my daughter from the novus ordo mass and its practices – as well as EMHCs, I have experienced (before my TLM days) uniformed school-children giving out communion and “altar girls” giving out communion. Its all so horrible and debasing for the Catholic faith.

    I am convinced that the whole rotten edifice of this modern pseudo-Catholicism will come crashing down – probably in a shorter time than we might imagine – thus proving Pope Benedict right about a smaller, more faithful Church.

  58. gracie says:

    Someone needs to clear up the question of whether or not a Catholic must receive the Sacrament of Confirmation to participate in certain activities. Fr. W nicely addressed this issue regarding the Sacrament of Matrimony but hwriggles4 says that EMHC’s and godparents must be Confirmed.

    None of this makes sense. The Sacrament of Confirmation is a voluntary act on the part of a Catholic to confirm himself in the faith. Children are told (or at least they used to be told) that they have the right to refuse the Sacrament. If they are then subsequently told that they must receive it to participate in certain activities in the Church (EMHC’s?? for Pete’s sake!!! and godparents??) then what’s voluntary about a choice that results in ostracism? Since when was being baptized and a practicing Catholic not deemed good enough for godparents? It doesn’t matter what you or I think or don’t think about why they have refused to receive Confirmation. It’s their business and none of ours but to coerce them puts a lie to the Church’s position that receiving Confirmation is a voluntary act on a Catholic’s part. How is it voluntary if you then have to receive it in order to perform certain functions within the Catholic community?

    I say this as someone who received the Sacrament at the age of 12; but the nuns made it clear to each us us that it was our choice and nothing would be said to those who refused. What a disgrace to force an optional Sacrament on people.

  59. un-ionized says:

    gracie, you could clear it up by calling the chancery in your diocese.

  60. Nan says:

    Fr W, I live in a diocese in which accommodation is made for adult confirmation, whether a truncated rcia for someone entering the Church prior to marriage, or entering the Church before deployment, or having Fr confirm when BP emeritus is caught in traffic behind an accident but I believe the priests are allowed to confirm.

  61. aquinas138 says:

    Venerator Sti Lot,

    Most Churches of Byzantine rite distribute antidoron. Some hardline Orthodox reserve it for Orthodox, but in my experience, it is generally distributed to all in both Greek and Slavic parishes. The use of antidoron fell out among Ruthenian Catholics in part because they started to use pre-cut bread; it is in their historic liturgical books, but it is not universally observed. On feast days, there is a special anointing and distribution of blessed loaves called mirovanije; this seems to be a version of the artoklasia said usually at Vespers.

  62. Nan says:

    Gracie, just as virtus training and background check are required for priests, deacons, staff and any volunteers working with children or vulnerable adults, the Church is free to require additional requirements for volunteers.

    As a befriender, I was required to provide proof of baptism and confirmation, undergo emhc training, virtus training and pass a background check. That’s in addition to a resume of volunteer work and information about my catechesis.

    There’s a catechetical institute where I live and it’s sometimes a condition for volunteer work and the men going into diaconate formation must complete one year prior.

    When I signed up for adoration at a parish to which I have no ties, I identified my CI class so the coordinator knew I’d spent two years in CCD on steroids.

    You suggest that the Church is inappropriate to require only confirmandi are involved in some aspects of parish life? Nobody can force confirmation but requiring it shows that a parish wants committed parishioners. Following through shows a different level of commitment than someone who isn’t interested in receiving God’s grace.

  63. un-ionized says:

    Nan, the diocese where I live requires virtus training for all volunteers, not just ones who come into contact with children, everyone, even singing in the adult choir or working in the library. The reasoning is they might come into contact with children but since the parishes where I go are full of children that seems to not make much sense except in terms of liability. Oh, of course, I forgot, that’s why they have that rule.

  64. capchoirgirl says:

    Un-ionized: Same here. Sigh. I understood it when I had to do CCD, but to sing in the choir? To be a lector?

  65. un-ionized says:

    capchoirgirl, it’s all punitive. the lay people are paying a heavy price for all those misbehaving priests. it isn’t the lay people who caused the problem. duh. but we were the ones who complained. so we are made to jump through flaming hoops to just do normal jobs because we refused to look the other way.

  66. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    un-ionized, Nan, Stephanus83, and aquinas138,

    Thank you!

    Thinking out loud, I wonder if a faithful Latin rite (EF and OF (Latin and vernacular) ) revival of the panis benedictus might function as the antidoron in contemporary Eastern Catholic practice, combining with catechesis (and Spiritual Communion) to emphasize the ‘distinctiveness of the Doron (as Totus Christus)’ (if I may so express it), to preclude the interpolation of approach and manual blessing of those not Communicating, and be welcoming and encouraging to guests not eligible to Communicate (and so, effectively staying or staunching at least some ‘open Communion’ push)?

  67. un-ionized says:

    VSL, interesting idea.

  68. gracie says:


    “gracie, you could clear it up by calling the chancery in your diocese.”

    Thank you for taking the time to help me with my question. My diocese, unfortunately, is not the place where one goes to get correct answers. Some of the answers of course may be correct, but others are not and I’ve given up checking with other sources to find out which is which. This is what makes Fr. Z’s blog so valuable for so many of us.

  69. Nan says:

    un-ionized, Capchoirgirl, I suppose it may be true where I live; Befrienders was the first volunteering I did and I did volunteer with children at an event and had to have my background check and virtus training info provided to them.

    The Church is doing the most of any organization to protect children; I’ve probably posted this here before but a Lutheran acquaintance (no idea which kind) said they have training for adult volunteers designed to avoid accusations; my Orthodox priest friend said their training is for priests, deacons and staff to avoid accusations – in his case, he also went around the church and changed a few things as there was a couch in the school/event center that was in a nice out of the way place and he had it removed. The focus in those cases is on how to avoid being perceived as a pedophile (cynical me says or to avoid being caught) but only the Catholic Church is focused on ways to protect the children.

    VSL, do we get to trade the bread for going up in the communion line for a blessing? If so, I’m all for it. I remember sitting in the pew when my parents and everyone else’s went up for communion.

    And why people fuss about not being able to receive communion in a church they do nothing but bitch about, I don’t know! They’re not Catholic, don’t want to be Catholic yet still whine about not being able to receive communion when they know we don’t believe the same things!/rant

  70. un-ionized says:

    gracie, the point I was making was that the answer your chancery gives is the correct answer because you are in that particular diocese and the rules that the bishop sets are the rules for you.

  71. un-ionized says:

    Nan, I don’t believe the Church is interested in protecting children, I have seen enough cynical covering up of things such as emotionally abusive behavior that in former times would have caused priests to be removed. I also can’t think of anything more blasphemous than a priest who performs an invalid baptism and then the bishop avoids responsibility by allowing the priest himself to determine validity. We are in a whole different world of parallel possibilities. We can only stay and pray and most importantly of all help each other because no one else will.

  72. Alice says:

    Gracie, I’m not sure when you were confirmed, but what you say you learned in Confirmation class sounds very much like what people have told me they heard in the 1960s and 1970s and perhaps beyond. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the whole truth. The Sacrament of Confirmation isn’t optional for serious Catholics: It is required for full initiation into the Church. Since Godparents, EMHCs, etc. are supposed to be drawn from serious and mature Catholics who can lead by example, they must be confirmed. That said, pastors and catechists tend to make it very clear to parents and candidates that the choice whether to receive the Sacrament now or to wait or perhaps never receive it ultimately belongs to the candidate. Sometimes by junior high or high school, young Catholics are questioning their faith or even no longer believe. A candidate might not feel ready to receive Confirmation for some other reason. Such a person should not be bullied into receiving Confirmation with their class by parents or pastors because God does not force Himself on us. Of course, a person who refuses to receive Confirmation, should not expect to exercise the privileges reserved to those who have.

  73. Nan says:

    I was resistant to confirmation even after the Mother of God scaring the hell out of me at a daily Mass! I didn’t see the point because it didn’t open the door to anything new for me; I was already Catholic, had been baptized and received my first communion. They said things will look different to me and boy did they ever! I realized how absolutely atrocious the protestant music was; for whatever reason, 2 of 3 music people were a protestant couple. There was some scandal to which I wasn’t privy, but after reading the Easter Vigil program and learned that half of the music was their copyrighted works, I was unimpressed. I don’t love modern church music.

  74. The Masked Chicken says:

    Dear Gracie,

    You wrote:

    “Someone needs to clear up the question of whether or not a Catholic must receive the Sacrament of Confirmation to participate in certain activities. Fr. W nicely addressed this issue regarding the Sacrament of Matrimony but hwriggles4 says that EMHC’s and godparents must be Confirmed.

    None of this makes sense. The Sacrament of Confirmation is a voluntary act on the part of a Catholic to confirm himself in the faith. Children are told (or at least they used to be told) that they have the right to refuse the Sacrament.”

    To answer your question, Can. 874 says:

    “Can. 874 §1. To be permitted to take on the function of sponsor a person must:

    1/ be designated by the one to be baptized, by the parents or the person who takes their place, or in their absence by the pastor or minister and have the aptitude and intention of fulfilling this function;

    2/ have completed the sixteenth year of age, unless the diocesan bishop has established another age, or the pastor or minister has granted an exception for a just cause;

    3/ be a Catholic who has been confirmed and has already received the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist and who leads a life of faith in keeping with the function to be taken on;

    4/ not be bound by any canonical penalty legitimately imposed or declared;

    5/ not be the father or mother of the one to be baptized.

    §2. A baptized person who belongs to a non-Catholic ecclesial community is not to participate except together with a Catholic sponsor and then only as a witness of the baptism.”

    Further, The Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1212, says:

    “1212 The sacraments of Christian initiation – Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist – lay the foundations of every Christian life. “The sharing in the divine nature given to men through the grace of Christ bears a certain likeness to the origin, development, and nourishing of natural life. The faithful are born anew by Baptism, strengthened by the sacrament of Confirmation, and receive in the Eucharist the food of eternal life. By means of these sacraments of Christian initiation, they thus receive in increasing measure the treasures of the divine life and advance toward the perfection of charity.”3”

    Confirmation is one of the three sacraments of initiation. Specifically, as its name suggests, it is a sacrament of maturation, of strengthening in the Faith. In order to be a godparent, one must have the essential maturity to do what the office or state suggests – accurately reflect and assist in the development of the Faith to the godchild. Although some (many, in the modern era) sources will erroneously equate confirmation with the Biblical anointing or baptism in the Holy Spirit (see, Fanning the Flame: What Does Baptism in the Holy Spirit Have to Do with Christian Initiation? by Kilian McDonnell (Editor), George T. Montague (Editor), as an example), nevertheless, this is not the language used by the Church Fathers, nor does it correspond to a correct interpretation of Scripture. Confirmation, as a sacrament, is a coming of age, similar to a Bar Mitzvah, in the Jewish religion. Confirmation makes one more accountable before the Church and men for ones actions – more accountable because the sacrament provides grace to enlighten the mind as to the correct thing to do in a situation. It strengthens, confirms (from, com firmare or confirmare, to make firm with), the person in the Faith. It is clear why a godparent would need to be mature or maturing (the sacrament has a developmental aspect with it) in the Faith to be a proper witness to their godchild, but likewise, the EMHC is a witness to the truth of the Faith with regards to what the Church affirms about the Eucharist (or, at least, they are supposed to be – deviations amount to a sin), so, again, the Church has a right to assume a certain level of maturity, which is given, if the person cooperates, by the grace of Confirmation.

    As a matter of fact, it is irrational to decide not to receive Confirmation. One may postpone reception, for a time, but the idea that children choose whether or not they want to be confirmed makes about as much sense as the idea that a basketball player might choose other than to be tall. Confirmation is not a matter of if, but when.

    I hope that answers your questions.

    The Chicken

  75. Imrahil says:

    Interesting discussion about the Confirmation.

    I may come back to the actual issue. In the meantime,

    dear gracie,

    Children are told (or at least they used to be told) that they have the right to refuse the Sacrament. If they are then subsequently told that they must receive it to participate in certain activities in the Church (EMHC’s?? for Pete’s sake!!! and godparents??) then what’s voluntary about a choice that results in ostracism?

    Please note that godparent and EMHC – also, member of parish pastoral council; any paid position in the Church whichsoever; organist and leader of the choir; member of the choir; altar server*; sacristan; and so on, and so forth – are Church offices.

    And confirmation is, among other things, the sacrament of initiation to (some layman sort of) Church service (which is the official reason that, ordinarily, only bishops confer it). [I leave aside the question how important this aspect among all the aspects of this Sacrament is.]

    It makes sense to refuse these offices to those who did not enrol themselves even in the most basic way into Church service – even if we suppose for a moment that this be a legitimate choice.

    And yes, that includes godparent.

  76. Imrahil says:

    [* Altar servers usually begin when not yet confirmed, because that way young boys can do it, and also perhaps because the enthusiasm of the First-Communicants can be better preserved that way (and just while we’re at it, off topic: there is no reason to deny First Communion to a schoolchild not yet confirmed who hasn’t done anything wrong; but there is reason to wait for Confirmation perhaps just a little bit more. Theoretical musings concerning the order of sacraments observed in adult baptisms don’t Change that.)

    However, if they should choose not to be Confirmed when the have reached the age, they should drop out of altar serving, and also they should be Confirmed for leading functions in the altar boy group.]

  77. Alice says:

    “Please note that godparent and EMHC – also, member of parish pastoral council; any paid position in the Church whichsoever; organist and leader of the choir; member of the choir; altar server*; sacristan; and so on, and so forth – are Church offices.”

    Maybe you think that should be the case, but this organist knows of no rule (Canon Law or diocesan regulation) that organists, choir directors, choir members, or anyone else in music ministry must be confirmed or even a practicing Catholic. Ideally they are, but let’s not confuse things here. The basic rule (as I understand it), is that if the person serves in the sanctuary (behind the altar rail), the person needs to be a Catholic in good standing. (Ideally the person is also male and the bishop has called them to the ministry they perform, but that almost never happens in my diocese except for candidates for the priesthood or diaconate.) In other areas of service, there’s some wiggle room. And this is, in my experience a very good thing because it allows non-Catholic spouses, people who are in irregular marriages, etc., to participate in parish life. No, they can’t go to Communion, but that doesn’t mean they should be completely excluded from everything.

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