mother-in-law being ordained to Episcopalian priesthood

I need to know why it is a sin for a Roman Catholic to take communion in an Episcopal church.

My mother in law is a wonderful woman. However, after my father in law revealed he’d been having an affair for 9 years, she divorced him and remarried without getting her prior marriage annulled. The man she married is Episcopalian. She converted. Now she’s gone to seminary and she’s been ordained to the diaconate, and her ordination to the priesthood is going to be in December.

The problem is that my brother in law is a loud mouth know it all. He made a point of announcing loudly that he would never receive communion from his mother and that she’s not a valid priest and all sorts of other irksome things that Catholics believe about Episcopalians. He’s the hypocritical jerk in the family (thrice divorced and estranged from his own children) but he’s also the one spouting The Church’s party line. This, of course, makes my husband and teenage daughter support their grandmother and the issue of taking communion in the Episcopal church has become battleground in our family.

I have attended services, and I attended her diaconal ordination, but when the time comes for communion, I sneak out quietly and go to the bathroom. Now I’m not going to be able to do this. I’m going to have to take a stand, and its not worth the fight to do what the church teaches. I explained my views on this to my husband, and he gave me such a look… my daughter wants to become Episcopalian because they ordain women. AARGH.

My mother in law knows how I feel, and she doesn’t put the pressure on me… its my own family. I am loathe to align myself with my stupid brother in law. And the fact is, I don’t know why it has to be a sin. If the sacraments aren’t valid, then I am going up and eating a piece of bread that a Protestant minister has prayed over. Why is that a sin? If Jesus said we can eat food sacrificed to idols… why can’t we eat bread prayed over by Protestants?

If my mother in law was wicked, I’d have ground to stand on. This is a sweet woman who has been a faithful Christian all of her life, who is spending most of her time coordinating ministries to migrant children. The people wanting to follow Catholic teaching on this are the ones who are double-talking hypocrites. My children have always adored her.

So why must this be such a horrid sin?

The fact that your brother in law is a double-talking hypocrite, as well as a generally unpleasant character, does not neccessarily make him wrong. I don’t think you do anyone any favours by taking a side on this issue simply to spite him.

The key reason it is sinful to receive communion in other churches (noting there are some qualified exceptions) is that when one receives communion, one is in effect witnessing in a very public way that you are “in communion” with that church; which is to say, that you agree with what they teach. For a Catholic to receive communion in another church there are two great hurdles - one is that beliefs differ regarding the real presence of Chirst in the communion (these beliefs differ across denominations) and beliefs regarding validity of ordination (that the ministers have a valid ministry).

It is a great shame that others in your family want to put you into a position you don’t want to be put into. Don’t let them. Make your own choice in this, based not on personal clashes but on the actual issues. It sounds like your mother in law would understand anyway, and would listen to your reasoning for the decisions you make.

Also note that standing up for your own faith need not be at the expense of anothers. You have your beliefs - your mother in law has her own - you can each respect the other without needing to be “right” and the other “wrong”.

underacloud has given the explanation in its essence: it’s because, by receiving communion in a Protestant service, you’re essentially saying, “yep, that’s communion in the sense that a Catholic understands it”, and that’s not at all what goes on in that context. Rather, communion in a Protestant service isn’t Eucharist. Now, if your daughter, as a little girl, had a tea party, you’d pick up an (empty) tea cup and say, “what wonderful tea!”. But, you wouldn’t assert to any adult that it really was tea… would you? That’s what you’re doing if you receive ‘communion’ at your m-i-l’s services – picking up an empty teacup and saying, in all earnest, “yep, that’s tea, alright!”

My mother in law is a wonderful woman. However, after my father in law revealed he’d been having an affair for 9 years, she divorced him and remarried without getting her prior marriage annulled. The man she married is Episcopalian. She converted.

OK… so, your m-i-l is a wonderful woman. Does that mean that you have to assert that each of her actions are wonderful? Does it mean that, out of sympathy for the difficult times she’s experienced, everything she does gets a pass? No… of course not. You can affirm the ways in which she’s wonderful, without needing to assent to everything she does. Our society has a difficult time with this distinction – we seem to need to look at a sympathetic person and require that each action be praised, as if any rejection of an individual action is a rejection of the entire person. Your m-i-l will continue to be a wonderful person… even if you look at this facet of her life and say, “I’m sorry; but I don’t agree with her actions here.”

I am loathe to align myself with my stupid brother in law.

So, don’t. :wink: Don’t align yourself with him; just align yourself with your Church.

Why is that a sin? If Jesus said we can eat food sacrificed to idols… why can’t we eat bread prayed over by Protestants?

Well, first off, “food sacrificed to idols” wasn’t asserted to be the Eucharist. No one ever took meat sacrificed to idols and tried to say, “oh, by the way – this is the Body of Christ!” Trust me – if they had, Paul wouldn’t have said, “yeah, it’s all good.” :wink:

If my mother in law was wicked, I’d have ground to stand on. This is a sweet woman who has been a faithful Christian all of her life

Help me understand – by the way you say “she converted,” I’m assuming you mean that she converted from Catholicism to Episcopalianism. Am I mistaken?

The people wanting to follow Catholic teaching on this are the ones who are double-talking hypocrites.

One person following Catholic teaching is a double-talking hypocrite, by what you’ve said. That doesn’t mean that the Catholic teaching is wrong… just that the hypocrite in question has a ways to go in his faith journey. That also doesn’t mean that, if you espouse Catholic teaching, you likewise become a hypocrite… :wink:

Fighting with your family members seems useless and aggravating, so if I were I would just keep quiet about her.
I also would avoid the pretense that you are going to communion at an Episcopal service. Doing that is phony.
If I were you I would simply not go to her services. If they try to fight about it, you could just keep your silence.
You do not have to judge anyone. I avoid this with my relatives, myself.

Boy that’s a real disaster going somewhere to happen for you guys. I’m really sorry to hear about it. I promise to remember you guys in prayer.

I do have several links that I think may help clear up the issue for you and your family. You might ask your brother in law when was the last time he went to confession and Mass. I suspect that he’ll embarrass himself and perhaps button his lip. One hopes so anyway…:shrug:

All of this is from CA’s Ask An Apologist forum, so you can trust it.
[LIST]
*]Why can’t women be ordained priests within the Catholic Church?
*]Deacons cannot celebrate Mass, so why can’t women be ordained to the diaconate?
*]There was an article in our local paper about a woman being ordained as bishop then ordaining other bishops. Is this valid?
*]Does the use of the present tense in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis suggest that the Church could ordain women in the future?
*]Did John Paul II’s refusal to ordain women go against his consistent teaching on the dignity of the individual person?
[/LIST]
And with regard to taking communion…

[LIST]
*]Ecclesia de Eucharistia (Note especially sections 43-46)
*]May I receive Communion with Lutherans?
*]Why can’t Catholics receive Protestant communion?
[/LIST]
One of the most compelling reasons for this is not bearing false witness by our actions which would give the impression that we share the same beliefs when in fact we do not.

The Church does not have the authority to ordain women. In his apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, Pope John Paul II declared “that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women” (4).

Some of the reasons cited include:

The example recorded in the Sacred Scriptures of Christ choosing his apostles only from among men
The constant practice of the Church, which has imitated Christ in choosing only men
The Church’s living teaching authority has consistently held that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is in accordance with God’s plan for his Church.

I have to say I have a few issues with this answer. Firstly, the fact that Jesus had male- only apostles doesn’t prove He made a conscious decision not to allow women. Surely a woman travelling with a group of men would have caused scandal in that society at the time. Perhaps that’s why He didn’t ask one? :confused:

Secondly, the last statement reads as “we’ve always done it this way so we’ll keep doing it this way”, which doesn’t do anything towards explaining why.

Are there any good online links that go into more detail about the refusal to ordain women and the reasoning behind it?

This is far afield from the topic of the thread. If you could start a separate thread of your own about your questions and then you would get better answers :slight_smile:

Agathe,
Jesus Christ died on the cross for you. God gave you the grace to be Catholic. Why would you commit this act of betrayal?

Your BIL is a jerk, but in this instance, he is right. Hey, even a broken clock…

Your MIL behaved badly when she converted. Your husband and daughter are behaving badly by supporting your MIL *in this endeavour. *

But what you need to do is not to consider the mere humans here, you need to think about Christ on His cross, dying for each of us. The point is not being on your MIL’s side or your BIL’s side: the point is being on the side of Christ. How can you best be on His side?

You might try praying the Rosary in front if the Tabernacle for a few days; I think that would help you discern the best way for you to handle this.

Your mother in law left the Catholic Church for the Episcopal Church. This is very gravely sinful. Now she is mocking Holy Orders. She is certainly not a “faithful Christian,” however much Satan is misleading her to think that she may be. You should be very sad and pray for her daily. Also pray for your family who is being misled by her. See that the Evil One is using this deception to lead the gullible away from Christ’s Church. Many millions** have** recognized this and have fled the Episcopal church.

You need to stop being a follower of rival camps, who may all be gravely wrong, and be a beacon of Christ’s Truth, even if you are the only one in your family. I know that this sounds very hard, but it is the truth.

Do you hear yourself? “It’s not worth the fight,” you say? Are you serious? Are you saying that it’s not worth the fight to do what Jesus has taught us and commanded us through zhis Catholic Church? Are you saying that it is not worth the fight to stand up for your beliefs due to a silly and pettty family rivalry?

Jesus said, “If anyone comes to Me without hating his father and mother, wife ane children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26)
AND
“Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you [falsely] because of me. Rejoice and be glad on that day, for your reward will be great in Heaven…” (Matthew 5:11-12).

My dear friend, I will pray for you that God bless you with the gift and the virtue of perserverance. Don’t go to your mother-in-law’s “church,” in thr first place. If you do, don’t receive “communion” there, because in so doing, you are insulting Jesus and His Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist. And don’t let your daughter leave the Truths of the Catholic Church for the lies and heresies that separated the Anglican/Episcopalian denomination from us.

May God bless you and your family during this difficult time! :slight_smile:

The reason you may not receive their " communion " is because the Episcopal priesthood is invalid, no Episcopal priest has the power to confect the Sacrament. Further, their service is not a valid service for the same reason. Receiving their " communion " and attending their services is a grave scandle to your family, other Catholics, and even to the Episcopal congregation, since this leaves the impression that you accept their " communion " and their liturgy as valid. You will just have to put your foot down and refuse to participate.

This will be a cross but in the end it will be the best possible thing you could do, for yourself, your family and others. God will reward you and perhaps your good example will be the means of salvation for your family. Remember, Christ was a sign of contradiction and we are called to be a sign of contradiction as well. It is the thing Saints are made of. And if we do not become Saints, we have done nothing worth while?

God Bless, Keep the Faith
Linus2nd

At some point in time you’ll have to make a decision about a few issues. Choose Christ.

Glenda

Yes good idea, I don’t want to make the thread go off-topic :slight_smile:

[quote=agathe]If my mother in law was wicked, I’d have ground to stand on. This is a sweet woman who has been a faithful Christian all of her life, who is spending most of her time coordinating ministries to migrant children. The people wanting to follow Catholic teaching on this are the ones who are double-talking hypocrites. My children have always adored her.
[/quote]

This is a regrettable situation on so many levels. But try to keep your Faith and Reason above emotional responses.

Your first priority has to be yourself, your own Faith. First pray for a strengthening of your own Faith in this hour of tribulation.

Your next priority is your children. Let them see that storms will come and crash upon the rock of their own Faith. They too must not let emotion carry them away. Once your own Faith has been strengthened, you can come to the aid of your children as well.

Lastly the situation with your mother-in-law can be viewed in a better light. She is dealing with some upheavals in her own life. You and your children can have compassion on her troubles, and withhold judgement. She is doing her best, but that is no reason to follow in her footsteps.

As for the communion; Your mother-in-law should know if she is ordained, that the Catholic Church does not permit us to partake of the Sacrament of Unity with non-Catholics. Therefore, to partake of this sacrament at your mother-in-laws ordination would be wrong. She knows this, and as you have described her in loving terms, she should be understanding of your position as well.

Therefore, I hope you and your children will learn from this and show that your house of Faith is built on a rock and not on sand. :thumbsup: God bless!

Spider,

If you can get your hands on a copy of The Catholic Priesthood and Women: A Guide to the Teaching of the Church, by Sara Butler, I would recommend you give it a read. She does a really good job of outlining the case of the Church…

The answer to your question is contained within your post: “my daughter wants to become Episcopalian because they ordain women”.

Attending ANY ceremony involving your mother-in-law creates public scandal that leads others, like your daughter, astray.

This is a grave problem, and you would do well to take a stand quickly on the side of Catholic truth…or the problem will fester and spread.


Four off topic posts have been removed. Please remain on topic and be as helpful as possible.***

I don’t see how this is an issue of faith. It seems more like an issue of brand loyalty. To me, the issue seems trifling. The rule seems arcane, it seems to be putting ME in a power struggle in which I have no real stake.

I am not going to boycott her ordination… whether I like it or not, it is part of the life of my family. I don’t see this as her doing anything wrong… one could easily say the church failed her in its response to her as a divorced woman. However, that is another story, and it is hers to tell.

My MIL knows and is quite candid about the fact that her ordination is not valid in the eyes of the Catholic church. I’m not debating women’s ordination… its going to happen whether I like it or not.

Everyone seems to want to put words into my mouth here. I am saying no such thing. I don’t know what to think on these issues… the distinctions seem petty and rooted in old power struggles that I have no stake in. I don’t know that I disagree with her actions–I don’t like the position it puts me in. If she was speaking against God or Jesus, I could pinpoint that and disagree. What we are talking about are ecclesiastical powerstructures. Prayers are prayers, God is God. I remember somewhere that the unworthy priest can administer the true sacrament. I took communion for years from a priest who led a double life… there’s nothing dark about what my MIL is doing, she’s being forthright and transparent.

She converted to the Episcopal Church. She married her second husband in the Episcopal Church. She is now being ordained in the Episcopal Church.

My feckless FIL is having a field day judging her as well. But he’s the ex-husband, and that’s an entirely different issue.

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