You see in some places reference to a breaking news story from LifeSite that the US bishops at their meeting this month will issue a document telling Catholics who dissent from Church teaching on certain matters that they should not receive Communion. With all due respect to the fine people at LifeSite (who I really do respect and whose service is valuable), this isn’t really big news.
In fact, it’s old news.
Catholics who dissent from the Church’s teachings on grave moral issues have always been under an obligation to not receive Communion because they may be guilty of mortal sin. (I say “may be” because the culpability must be subjectively weighed for each person.)
If true, this is actually a step backward because what they should be saying is that ministers of Communion may be required to deny Communion to certain people who are in violation of Canon 915: “Those who are excommunicated or interdicted after the impostion or declaration of the penalty and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” The Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts has determined that an obligation exists for ministers of Communion to refuse Communion to public and obstinate sinners.
What may be news is that the bishops are willing to address this topic at all and that they are telling people that there circumstances in which you should not receive. But it’s not much to get excited about otherwise.
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