Perhaps you’ve heard of the “God Squad.” They’re a priest and a rabbi, Msgr. Thomas Hartman and Rabbi Marc Gellman, who have become media darlings for giving out advice laced with religion and humor. Unfortunately, so much of the religion gets sacrificed on the altars tolerance, political correctness, and “interfaith understanding.”
Case in point: Ed Peters notes a recent column by the squad on a question relating to an Alzheimer’s patient receiving the Eucharist. The son of the patient said his mother had been refused Communion because, he was told, “receipt of communion depends on a cognitive understanding of what is being received.” Unfortunately the God Squad gave the man the exact wrong answer, according to Ed, who then provides the actual canon law and Church teaching on the matter.
The God Squad, which presumably means Msgr. Hartman because of the specifically Catholic nature of the question, backs up the Eucharistic minister who said the communicant must have a cognitive understanding of the nature of the Eucharist at the time of reception of the Eucharist. On the face of it, that’s wrong since Eastern-rite Catholics give First Communion to infants at the time of baptism.
The Squad also says that “religious rituals are not a right, they are a blessing,” when in fact the faithful do have a right to the sacraments that is guaranteed by canon law, provided one is properly is disposed, i.e. not in a state of mortal sin.
Ed gives a more detailed dissection of the erroneous answer, but it highlights the perils of such advice columns because even though the “expert” may have degrees after his name or a religious title before it, you are not guaranteed of getting the right answer. You must be able to trust the expert, which most often means you’re better off asking someone you’ve come to know personally and not somebody who’s expert because he’s famous and a media personality.