Eucharist as property of the Church


#1

Re the lawsuit by the Archdiocese of Ok City…
What is the underlying philosophy, canon law, etc…for the Eucharist as legal property of the Church? It does seem odd to claim the Body of Christ as property.


#2

In Canon Law, the internal law system of the Church, ownership of the Host and consecrated wine are recognized as impossible, due to the divine nature of the elements.

Civil law has no such recognition of the consecration. It continues to see bread and wine, which were given to communicants under the strict condition that they be consumed at the time of distribution. Thus it is a theft to remove the Communion elements from the premises without permission (such as authorized distribution to the home bound). The church would be permitted to sue in civil court to recover the elements that were taken without permission (pressing criminal charges, however, might be impossible).

It is similar (legally) to removing food from an “all you can eat” buffet. You have (paid for) permission to eat as much as you like in the restaurant, but must secure additional permission (make an additional payment) to take food home. The restaurant would be permitted to sue recover the the take out price if the customer did not pay for take out.


#3

Eugene Volokh’s Holy replevin, Bat-wing-man! reviews the case by the Archbishop of Oklahoma City for recovery (replevin) of a supposedly-consecrated host that Satanists there plan to use in a Black Mass.

A few things to consider.

First, Volokh’s legal analysis is interesting, and I welcome any thoughts you have.

Second, we’ve been hearing more about Satanists and Black Masses (such as the Harvard controversy), which makes me think that Satanists have realized that they can get more publicity by announcing their intentions in advance. In fact, the whole story of a Catholic priest in another country secretly being a Satanist sounds like it could just be made up to earn publicity. Satanists probably aren’t that interested in telling the truth, are they? In any case, might we see a new upswing in Satanic theft of the Blessed Sacrament, or if not real theft, fraudulent reports for the sake of publicity?

Third, under canon law and/or theology, assuming the story is true, does a Catholic priest who later takes a vow as a Satanist still bear valid orders? Or in some way, does becoming a Satanist make him unable to confect the sacrament?


#4

I think it is wrong to declare the Eucharist as property, let alone odd. Doing so will not solve problems like the effort to have a Black Mass in OK. City.

It is a secular approach, not a spiritual one.


#5

Hello,

It’s an interesting idea. While I don’t know how much canon law would matter in this particular civil process (not much, I suspect), I’ll note that canon law would certainly support the notion that the unconsecrated hosts used for Communion are ecclesiastical goods and are the property of the Church (i.e., parish or another “public juridic person”). The monetary value of an unconsecrated host is obviously quite small. But, it is property of the Church nonetheless.

Once consecration occurs, the substance is changed but the accidents remain. Does the Church merely retain ownership of the accidents of bread? I’m not sure what that means but I don’t know how else to say it.

From a civil law perspective, I don’t suppose it cares about “transubstantiation” so it would continue to look at the Host as just a wafer of bread. Either way, it seems the civil law would always see the Host as “property” of the Church.

I don’t have a problem with this “secular” approach. All possible approaches should be pursued to try to prevent this deplorable and evil event.

Dan


#6

Hello,

Certainly, the adage “once a priest, always a priest” holds true. He would still possess valid ordination. Nevertheless, if a priest turns Satanist, I sincerely doubt he would be able to maintain proper intentions regarding “doing what the Church does.” I would hope not, I suppose…

Dan


#7

This is a secular court case so we must look at it from that point of view… It is said that possession is 9/10 of the law. If a person received the Eucharist during mass, but then pocketed it and brought it home, I don’t think the claim of the Church that the person does not own the piece of bread they were given will be a strong argument in a secular court. In this case, though, the case is even weaker as the bishop lacks even firsthand testimony as to how the host came to be in possession of the Satanists. The diocese has no jurisdiction over what some renegade foreign priest does, even if that be consecration by the power of his Holy Orders.


#8

Okay, trying to take this slowly.

The Satanists are claiming that they have a consecrated host which they are planning to use. the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City position is that any consecrated hosts are the property of the Church - represented within Oklahoma City by the Archbishop. So far, so simple.

The Church’s claim sets out the value and importance of a consecrated host (which doesn’t have to be valuable) as well as the protection associated with such hosts. The idea behind this is not just to show its importance to the Church but also the care which is taken of such hosts. All of this is intended to show that it could not have been obtained unlawfully - that is, without deception, theft, etc - and should therefore be returned.

The satanists are claiming that they were lawfully given the host (well sent it in the post…) by a Catholic priest (who they notably refuse to name) in another country (which again they refuse to name) which would of course be outside of the court’s jurisdiction. Put simply they’re saying we didn’t steal the host, it was given to us by someone who was allowed to have it and who in fact consecrated us. I get a sense here that they’re saying that it belongs to the priest who consecrated it.

Okay so picking apart the arguments, I see several problems with the Satanists case. First of all, if they’re not going to name (and produce) the priest then they’re on a short road to a hiding (in a legal sense at least) because they’ll have no evidence to support their argument. Of course if they do name and produce their priest, then enquiries can of course be made to determine if he his in fact a real priest. Assuming, they may also run into difficulties from the fact, while in consecrating the host, that he was acting on behalf of the Church but in sending it to the Satanists he was doing something that the Church would not have allowed him to do and the Satanists would (arguably) have known this.

So what this is about it making the Satanists out up or shut up. That is, they can produce their priest (or admit he doesn’t exist) or they can give the host back (or admit it’s not consecrated after all). Overall, it’s not a half bad strategy on the part of the Archdiocese given the seeming raft of Satanic rituals lately. If nothing else it’s likely to deter Satanists from publicity seeking in the future given the cost of hassle of litigation - more so if the Archdiocese is successful.


#9

This is a secular case, not a spiritual one. The problem has been solved (for now) because the secular courts ordered the return of the Church’s property (the consecrated host) to the Church. A black mass centers around desecrating a consecrated host; if they don’t have one, it won’t be the same.


#10

Ok I get all that.
I am just surprised the diocese is making the case that Jesus is someone’s legal property, even the property of the Church. That is the reality we are talking about. This is Christ we are talking about being property.


#11

They are making a civil argument, not a theological one. Hence they are using terms according to their civil value like “property” and “rights”, not their theological value. Of course the bishop does not think the Eucharist is the property of the Church; this is purely a civic law formulation; but it gets fairly close to the actual role of the Church w.r.t. the Eucharist.


#12

The diocese is simply using the (secular) tools which are available to it and, in a secular legal sense, the eucharist is the property of the Church. of course, in a spiritual and theological sense it’s far more than that.


#13

Ok…The diocese is dealing with a secular issue with the tools available to it. Makes sense. Overthinking I am.
Thanks


#14

Think of it in the inverse. The Church is the “property” of the consecrated Host. The Church is suing to be reunited with her owner…


#15

Jesus is my Christ. I want Him back. Any family relative would have the same right in a kidnapping case. Where does this analogy fail.
Any legal way is valid if it protects the sanctity and personage of Christ in the hands of defilers. In my opinion, even violence is warranted. I would certainly man handle anyone trying to steal a consecrated host from a church.


#16

His thoughts are generally sound.

The disclaimer at the end of the analogy of the player wearing and selling his own practice shirt is illustrative “(at least unless the contract was very specific on the player expressly transferring his property rights in all shirts he wears during practice; the Church’s petition doesn’t plead the analog of that, I think)”.

If the renegade priest is in fact Catholic, then the conditions of his ordination would more or less explicitly transfer stewardship of any host’s consecrated to the Catholic Church. This would be a lifelong, irrevocable commitment.

If the priest were Orthodox, I am sure they would be very interested in joining the case. I could not even imagine an unaffiliated church with valid orders, such as the Old Catholic Churches would refrain from joining the ongoing case to recover the Host.

Second, we’ve been hearing more about Satanists and Black Masses (such as the Harvard controversy), which makes me think that Satanists have realized that they can get more publicity by announcing their intentions in advance. In fact, the whole story of a Catholic priest in another country secretly being a Satanist sounds like it could just be made up to earn publicity. Satanists probably aren’t that interested in telling the truth, are they? In any case, might we see a new upswing in Satanic theft of the Blessed Sacrament, or if not real theft, fraudulent reports for the sake of publicity?

This instance seems to be a copycat “Black Mass”, even upping the ante by claiming a consecrated Host. Satanic Temple, the group behind the Harvard incident, explicitly does not approve of the Oklahoma “Black Mass” (The Harvard incident never claimed to use a valid Host).

kfor.com/2014/08/12/oklahoma-governor-called-out-for-mixing-up-satanic-organizations/

Third, under canon law and/or theology, assuming the story is true, does a Catholic priest who later takes a vow as a Satanist still bear valid orders? Or in some way, does becoming a Satanist make him unable to confect the sacrament?

Heresy, no matter how serious, would never render a priest unable to confect the Eucharist. Only an explicit desire to simulate the sacrament, such as during instruction, would, could prevent a valid Eucharist.

The leader of the Oklahoma “Black Mass” has claimed that the unidentified priest in Turkey who allegedly sent the Host was murdered for his participation in Satanism. We must provisionally* pray for the soul of this man, who will forever bear the sacramental seal of the Christian priesthood.

*I do not trust the leader’s account.


#17

Update:

Consecrated Host Returned, OKC Archbishop Drops Lawsuit
Posted: Aug 21, 2014 5:55 PM EDT Updated: Aug 21, 2014 7:23 PM EDT
By News9.com - email

OKLAHOMA CITY -

The consecrated host, who Oklahoma City’s Archbishop claims was stolen by Satanic Priest Adam Daniels for use in September’s “Black Mass”, has been returned.

An attorney representing the satanic church presented the host to a catholic priest in Oklahoma City, Thursday afternoon. …

news9.com/story/26341267/consecrated-host-returned-okc-archbishop-drops-lawsuit


#18

It’s a very strong argument. Does the library not own the books I check out and take home?


#19

I think the primary motivation here was to RESCUE the Eucharist immediately from what was going to be done to it. I think an imperfect analogy may be 150 years ago when some abolitionists purchased African American slaves only to turn around and set them free. I suppose one could argue that simply by participating in the act of purchasing a human being, they were behaving wrongly because no human being should purchase another human being or treat them like property.

Jesus in the Eucharist is clearly not property, however according to the court of law in the United States that is exactly what a consecrated host is: therefore the people who sued were acting within the laws that they had to work with in order to facilitate a rescue. I would imagine as soon as the host is returned it will be adored and treated properly. I think this move was brilliant personally.


#20

Not to revive an old thread but…

I find it fairly interesting that these satanists ‘believe’ that in order to conduct a so called black mass, they must have a consecrated Eucharist host. I am unaware of any such groups stealing from, say, a Baptist church, which would not have bread and wine that has been Transubstantiated…

While I despise the attack that they are attempting to make against Christ and the Eucharist and the Church, on some level, it gives me hope that our prayers for them can be fruitful. On one level, they already appear to fully believe that the bread and wine do in fact become the Body and Blood…(and of course, on the other, they seem to hate Christ), and yes, I know that even Satan himself ‘knows’ that Jesus is Lord, and that he and all his minions will be forced to profess this in the end, but: these people are living in the here and now and they appear to ‘know’ and ‘believe’ that the Eucharist matters. As an amateur evangelist, the fact that these satanists seem to have this knowledge actually gives me hope for their souls. Knowledge in the head can often lead to belief in the heart.

I vote we increase our prayers for these satanists; that they might come to see that they are correct that the Eucharist is Real, and join that belief with acceptance of Christ as Savior and Lord. That they may believe that He is Love, and answer His call to come to His arms. Amen

Peace in Christ - for with Him, nothing is impossible, not even the conversion of a satanist to Christianity


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