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Old Apr 15, '10, 3:31 pm
Suan Suan is offline
Trial Membership
Join Date: April 15, 2010
Posts: 1
Religion: Catholic
Default What do we do about a communicant who can't swallow Communion?

We have a young man, about 15, in our parish who is severely retarded. He also has Down Syndrome and is deaf. His mother insists that he receive Communion, even though she has been told that her son does not need to receive in light of his condition. He does not understand the significance of what is going on and spits the host out. To placate her, we have touched the host to his tongue and then given it to her. We had a guest priest who was not informed of this, and he refused to touch it to his tongue, saying it was against the rule. She also insists that her son take from the cup, which we fear he will drop, and even if we hold it, he drools in it. What is the actual rule for this situation?

Last edited by Michelle Arnold; Apr 16, '10 at 9:13 pm.
Old Apr 16, '10, 9:52 pm
Michelle Arnold's Avatar
Michelle Arnold Michelle Arnold is offline
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Join Date: May 3, 2004
Posts: 5,123
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: What do we do about a communicant who can't swallow Communion?

Whether or not the young man understands the significance of the Eucharist is irrelevant. In some circumstances, the Church can and does give Communion to those who do not understand its significance. What is a problem is that this young man's physical condition hinders his ability to swallow Communion properly, leading to its inadvertent but real profanation when he has spit out the host and drooled in the chalice. (Not to mention that the drooling causes a health hazard to others who receive after him.)

I can only recommend that the pastor meet with the young man's mother, kindly explain to her again why her son need not receive Communion, and then gently inform her that the parish's clergy and EMHCs will be instructed not to offer Communion during Mass to her son. (If Communion can be safely given to him in private, her son might be brought Communion by an EMHC to the homebound.) As a pastoral gesture, and assuming that this is done in his parish, the pastor might invite the woman to bring her son to a priest or deacon for a blessing during Communion. If the pastor chooses not to act on this matter, I recommend writing to the bishop and explaining the situation to him.

Last edited by Michelle Arnold; Apr 21, '10 at 10:08 am.

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