___ Originally Published on: May 11, 2020 at 19:42
I has come to my attention via LifeSite that His Excellency Most Rev. Richard Fr. Stika, Bishop of Knoxville on 6 May issued a DECREE (it says “decree”) which says, inter alia, that “Reception of Host on the tongue is strictly prohibited at this time.”
I believe the bishop is acting ultra vires in this matter, but that’s not why I am writing this today.
Obviously Bp. Stika got push back, and rightly so. People have the right to make their concerns known both to him directly (preferable as a first step) and the Holy See. However, the push back that he received is a mixed bag.
Then Bp. Stika issued a Tweet that was pretty inflammatory.
Yes. They will not give Communion on the tongue as per my instruction. And if the person makes a scene, they will be asked to leave and not permitted to return unlike this passes. Reception of the Eucharist is NOT to be used as a statement of personal piety. Protection of others
— Bishop Rick Stika (@BishopStika) May 8, 2020
Wow. Harsh, much?
So, Bp. Stika would, in effect, censure people who want Communion on the tongue, which is their right (cf. Redemptionis Sacramentum), with a kind of interdict.
If he intends to include Communion at celebrations of the TLM in this, then he is doing something pretty provocative and, again, I believe beyond his authority (cf. Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae).
An “interdict” bans a person from receiving the Eucharist. Interdicts can be incurred through the sinful commission of a delict, as when one incurs an excommunication, automatic or declared. If a interdicted person violates the interdict, they are to be expelled or the sacred rite suspended. Also, interdict is the penalty to be imposed when someone, stirs up hatred of the local ordinary bishop because of some act of ecclesiastical authority (cf. can. 1373).
Folks, don’t stir up hatred of your bishop because of some act of ecclesial authority!
Back in the day there was an excommunication that also made a person vitandus, someone to be avoided. This is no longer part of the 1983 Code. However, some times I have observed that bishops are perfectly happy to punish with the older Code. I’m not saying that that is what Bp. Stika is doing. But his reaction reminded me of that.
Bp. Stika, to whom I have not hitherto paid a lot of attention, is very active on Twitter. As far as I can tell, he is not among those bishop who war on the TLM and those who desire it. That’s a good thing, right?
However, Stika also posted this, in the wake of his tweet, above:
Lots of TLM folks give their love of this type of Liturgy permitted by the local bishop a bad name.
— Bishop Rick Stika (@BishopStika) May 3, 2020
I can’t disagree with him on this. I’ve been at this thing for over three decades. When the Id of Traddom gets going, things can get ugly fast. I am convinced that this is because the Enemy knows that the only viable path to renew the Church’s identity and life in a lasting way is through recovery of Tradition. The Enemy is probably rather content with vast swaths of the Church at the moment, and doesn’t need to exert attention in those spheres where people have only vague notions about the Catholic Faith, or erroneous ideas, or who are simply drifting along. Instead, the Enemy is going to make sure that his really opponents are divided in bitter factions and atomized into ineffectiveness. Tradition has to be repressed through constant temptation and prodding of those who desire it. They are real the threats.
Back to Bp. Stika’s somewhat understandable reaction to the reactions:
Well, I was going to lock down my Twitter because of the invasion of unusual people, but I decided not to because I really think people need to see how this unusual people are giving the good people of the TLM community a bad name as well as how these gloom and doom protestants’
— Bishop Rick Stika (@BishopStika) May 11, 2020
I read some of the tweets people, many anonymous (aka cowardly) bequeathed to Bp. Stika. Some of them were truly infra dignitatem Christianam. They were beneath Christian dignity. On a human level I get why Bp. Stika would point out their bad behavior.
At the same time, I wonder why Bp. Stika felt the need to troll people who want to receive Communion on the tongue. In effect, that is what he did. For sure, he was being trolled. But he doesn’t have to “fight back”. He is a diocesan bishop, for Pete’s sake.
If what some trads and others did in attacking Bp. Stika like jackals was infra dignitatem, so too I wonder if a bishop sending out tweets that he must know is going to bring those reactions isn’t also bordering on infra dignitatem.
“This will rile them up!”, followed by, “Let people see who they are!”
What I should like to see are some mutual apologies and then far calmer discourse.
It seems to me that that is what Christian charity suggests and our recognition of different roles in the Church suggests.
If the people of Knoxville (read: any diocese) don’t like what Bp. Stika (read: any bishop) did, they have channels of recourse. The sands of time are flowing: this situation won’t last forever. We shall see what he himself does about his Decree in the future. Moreover, no one is compelled to receive Communion at Mass. You can opt to stay in your pew and make a Spiritual Communion.
If you are being treated unjustly by any bishop or by any priests, God knows it. If they have sinned in imposing unjust decrees or enforcing them, they will be accountable at their judgment. Don’t sin in response.
Time will tell. Later, you will remember this moment when the diocese – any diocese, not just Knoxville – asks you for something. Let’s hope that the air has been long cleared in a cordial way and we have a “new normal” better than the “old normal”.
If you are strongly against Communion in the hand, and if you are going to go to Mass, and if you know that when you go forward to receive you will not be given Communion on the tongue, then you have to ask yourself what your motive is for going forward. The Communion rail isn’t the place for protests.
I put out a general plea to all in – call it what you will – traddom, the tradosphere, traddies, trads, traditional whatever – please don’t act like jackasses right now. If you perceive yourselves to be mistreated, maintain your dignity. If those who mistreat you are to blame, so be it. This isn’t the time of the lex talionis.
What happens is that some priest or bishop pokes you in the eye. You turn around and poke him in the eye. The situation builds and rapidly becomes ridiculous.
Satan and demons win.
You – nay rather, WE – all lose. WE lose dignitas. WE lose standing. WE lose credibility. You lose it for yourself and for others. You also lose, sometimes, habitual grace. And when that happens, the whole Church is wounded.
This sort of thing has to stop.
Yesterday, in the Epistle for the 4th Sunday after Easter, St. James said:
“Know this, my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God.”
James goes on to say after that pericope:
“If any one thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this man’s religion is vain.”
Meanwhile, Paul writes to the bishop Timothy:
“Preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching.” (2 Tim 4:2)