Would it be a sin for a priest to encourage someone he believed to be in a state of mortal sin to take part in the communion service?
The passage of Scripture that comes to mind is Matthew 18:5-6:
Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
I would interpret that as saying that, yes, intentionally leading somebody toward receiving the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin would itself be a sin.
Of course there are lots of caveats. The priest’s sin would only be mortal if it is grave matter, was done with full knowledge, and full consent of the will. Does the priest know this person is in a state of Mortal sin, or is it just a suspicion? How did he encourage the person in question?
It’s a difficult subject, because Priests should encourage all Catholics to receive regularly, but should also encourage all Catholics to avail themselves of the Sacrament of Reconciliation so that they may be in the proper state to do so.
How would the priest know for certain, unless the person had gone to confession, in which case the sin would be absolved? If the priest has nothing more than suspicions, perhaps it is appropriate that he leave it up to the person to decide whether to take part in communion.
If, for example, it is well known that the person is cohabiting, or is remarried.
A priest should make it clear, that in a state of mortal sin, one cannot receive communion. It is a blasphemy. But, if there is no public or known habitual sin, then the person who comes to communion is responsible for the act. On the other hand, if a priest knows the person is in a habitual sin, ie cohabitation, and gives communion, then he has committed a sacrilege.
It is like a doctor, who, knowing his patient is a diabetic, and gives him sugar. A doctor should be interested in the bodily well-being of his patient, and a priest should be interested in the spiritual well-being of his faithful.
A priest, who does this, puts his own soul in jeopardy of damnation, and that of the faithful.
What do you mean by the communion service? Do you mean the Mass, or something else?
What do you mean by to take part?
For instance, someone in a *state of mortal sin *should be encouraged to assist at Mass on Sundays and other hoiy days of obligation. But such persons should not, generally, be encouraged to partake in the sacrament of communion. :twocents:
I would like to know what the priest’s instructions are in these sorts of situations. Is there any official source for that?
I know what you wrote is common sense, but I have some difficulty with the concept of “well known” as it relates to mortal sin. There are uncertainties, and there may be factors unknown to the priest. What if the recipient is not in a state of mortal sin, and the priest misjudges him and refuses to allow him to receive?
Without examining the church law on this matter, I would have to assume that the priest incurs no guilt by giving the Precious Body and Blood without judgement to all who present themselves to receive it.
(I can think of this exception: When someone is in a state of excommunication, the priest may know with certainty that the person is ineligible to receive the sacraments.)
Here is the Cannon Law on receiving Communion:
Can. 915 Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.
One ie who persists in cohabitation cannot receive Communion. Or a doctor who has an abortion clinic cannot be received to Communion.
Giving absolution to a person in habitual sin or Communion to one in a state of mortal sin, is like pouring gasoline on a blazing fire.
Only if a priest is certain of this fact, if in doubt then, as stated before, he is obliged to give the sacraments, if one cannot reach, without giving scandal, to certainty.
In his homilies, the priest should make clear the facts of sin. One cannot receive the sacraments, if he is stubborn in them.
I’m still looking for a shred of document to support this and the fact that, knowingly administering an invalid sacrament is a sin.
Canon 915 is the letter of the law, but we know the situation on the ground is much different. Priests have been disciplined and removed for denying Holy Communion to obstinate sinners.
That is horrible! Have we lost all common sense? Many have a problem with obeying Mother Church, that is for sure. But to outright cut the person who is faithful to her is another matter. It is sad. Praying for an end to all this heterodoxy in the Church.:signofcross: