Is my AP European book wrong? (concerning transubstantiation)

Okay, my AP European History book discusses Jan Hus, and how he shared the cup with his worshipers. As it says…

45 Jan Hus-

Bohemian priest who believed that priests weren’t a holy and privileged group, and rather the Church was made up of all the faithful. He rejected the division that forbade the congregation at a Mass to consume the blood of Christ, in which only the priest could drink. He shared the cup of wine with all worshipers, thus reducing the distinctiveness of the priest. He questioned the leadership of the Church, and was summoned to defend his views at the Church Council at Constance. Hus refused to recant, and was thus executed.

Today, if the priest shares the cup with the congregation, under the species (when the congregation can drink from the chalice), then why was he considered a heretic for that? Was it forbidden for the congregation from receiving the Precious Blood of Christ back then, but it’s allowed now?

Just curious, not questioning doctrine, but when I read it, I thought “Wait, people can recieve the blood of Christ in today’s Mass”


It’s too complex an issue to discuss on computer boards, but basically the Precious Blood was not so much “refused to” the laity as “avoided by” them.

The Eastern Catholic and Orthodox churches distributed Communion in both kinds to the laity, without any denial of the special function of the ordained ministry.

So this is one of those “partial accuracies” where the inaccuracy is more in what is left out, which makes what gets actually said misinterpreted.

The heresy may have been that he believed that it is absolutely necessary to receive the wine in order to receive the Precious Blood as well. Meaning that when you receive under the form of bread, you receive the Body alone, and when you receive the wine, you receive the Blood alone.

The correct teaching is that both Body and Blood are contained whole and entire in both of the species. It is not necessary therefore to receive under both species.

I think ‘Utraquist’ describes their teaching.

As I understand it, the problem with Hus was that he was a follower of Wyclif, who believed:
*]sola scriptura
*]the Eucharist is not a re-presentation of the sacrifice of Christ and transubstantiation does not occur
*]there is no purgatory
*]Confession is not a sacrament

Wyclif and Hus both criticized the wealth of the Church, of individual churchmen, and of monasteries. These views made him popular (with the aristocracy but also with general people) and are not heretical. The popularity of these ideas lead to more acceptance (among the laity) of the heretical ideas than would otherwise be the case.

It is (AFAIK) heretical to say that the Church doesn’t have the right to make binding disciplinary decisions abut the liturgy, like whether the Cup is to be shared. In addition, there is the problem that he repeatedly refused to obey his archbishop and the Pope, who banned him from teaching these heretical things, and finally excommunicated him. Hus did not defend the more Protestant teachings of Wyclif, but did teach that a hierarchical Church was not necessary, and also that it was not necessary to obey the Church.

He wasn’t a heretic for sharing the Cup, but because he didn’t believe in the teaching authority of the Church. What actually got him executed, however, was his refusal to submit to the Church’s condemnation of Wyclif’s teachings (especially on the Eucharist). Hus said that he had not studied Wyclif’s teachings sufficiently to condemn them, thus displaying his belief that it is not necessary to obey the Church. It is the duty of faithful Catholics to accept Church teaching on faith and morals, without studying and coming up with an independent opinion that happens to agree with it first. (It is good to study the teachings and come to an independent opinion that agrees with it, but acceptance should come first.)

Hus should not have been turned over to the secular authorities (so they could execute him) after the council of Constance, even according to the usual thinking of the day, because he had been granted safe conduct. (According to the thinking of our day, with which I agree of course, he also shouldn’t have been executed as a heretic because it is wrong to execute heretics. :)) However, he certainly was a heretic.

A great reference about the history of heresy in the Church, in which you will find much of what I’ve said above (:D) is Dissent from the Creed by Richard M. Hogan (published by Our Sunday Visitor). It is very easy to read and a handy reference.


Jan Huss embraced, translated, diseminated and promoted the condemned writings/teachings of the English heretic Wyclif in his home country of Bohemia (modern Czech Republic). Bohemia and England had extensive interaction between the two distant nations due to a royal marriage and travel between the courts.

Wyclif denied the authority of the Church, Transubstantiation of the Eucharist, and made an unauthorized translation of the Bible.

Huss’s condemnation was not based on giving Communion under both species. The heretical teaching of Hus on the Eucharist was impanation, same as Wyclif.

His successors in the Hussite movement took this to the level of doctrine, stating that salvation **required **Communion under both species. This is called Utraquism.

However, I do not read the paragraph you quoted as stating Huss was condemned for giving Communion under both species. It says “he questioned the leadership of the Church” (an understatement, he actually denied the authority of the Church) in relation to his summons and subsequent condemnation.

It seems more a matter of summarizing a very complex topic into one paragraph and then adding poor sentence structure on top of it.

(a) That is not the reason he was condemned as a heretic
(b) This is a discipline, so if he violated Church law on the matter, he could certainly be disciplined by censure, removal of priestly faculties, and even excommunication. But, his crime would not be heresy.

Communion under both kinds has varied through the centuries, but was reserved to the priest from the 13th century until after Vatican II.

It’s not doctrinal, it’s disciplinary in nature-- regulated by Church law and in force through the authority of the Church. Individual priests have no power to assert their own preferences over the requirements of the legitimate authority of the Church.


Oh, alright, thank you all for clearing this up for me. I was just confused, but after reading all these posts, I understand. :thumbsup:

yeap that’s the reason!

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