Non Catholic family members and communion


Here's a bit of a sticky situation, and only now as I prepare for my advent confession am I starting to feel scrupulous over this, so I'm asking for some incite into this issue.

Last January my Grandfather passed away and we had a funeral mass for him as is customary, and I was a pall bearer along with my uncles brother and father and we were directed to sit in the first and second rows. So we got to the point of coming up to receive communion, and one of my uncles went up, who to my knowledge is not Catholic and if he is he isn't practicing, he and my aunt got married outside the Catholic church because I think he was previously married. and within the time that the procession to receive communion was beginning and the time we actually got on line, I wondered if I should have stopped him. I didn't want to be pretentious or rude. I was 18 at the time and this uncle is in his late 50s early 60s I think, we only see him around major holidays and birthdays, and its a challenge to just carry on a casual conversation with him let alone try and tell him that maybe he shouldn't go up for communion.

What is my responsibility in this situation? Was it my place as his nephew to try and sequester him so to speak? I can't imagine a more awkward position for the both of us, my grandfathers casket is like a few feet in front of us, my grandma is crying like the whole time. at the moment, I wasn't sure if he was actually going to take communion, but maybe get out of the pew to let everyone else by, or just walk by in line without receiving, but as it is he did receive. And I thought to myself at the time, that it wasn't my place to try and admonish him, but the place of his wife my aunt who was raised Catholic by my grandparents to forewarn him if it wasnt proper for him to receive.

any advice appreciated on this situation but also in general. How do we deal with this type of situation with friends and family? I remember at another funeral i went to, the priest made an announcement before communion requesting that only practicing Catholics come up to receive, and I wish the priest at this funeral mass did the same >.<


What's done is done.

But, if presented with another situation, it might be a good idea to speak with the priest beforehand and let him know that your or others might have relatives who are "confused" about who may or may not receive the Eucharist, and that an announcement might be warranted.


I agree with the other poster. Since it is bothering you, by all means confess it and get absolution for any sin/failure/error on your part. Then be guided by any advice you confessor might offer.

I found myself in a similar situation many yeas ago when I was about 15-16. A Classmate was killed in a car accident and many of his classmates came to the funeral mass. As we were attending public School many in attendance were not Catholic. A girl I knew to be not Catholic got up with the rest of us to go up for communion. I too worried if I should say something but didn't. Fortunately when we got up to the priest, she realized what was going on and simply stepped aside and followed everyone else back to the pew.

One thing to note is that we can never really know the state o another's soul at a given point itn time, especially when we don't see them often. You ave/had no way of knowing if your uncle might have gone to confession the day before the funeral. Unlikely perhaps but you just can't know.

I also think that funeral masses, where non-Catholic, and fallen away Catholic, friends and family are likely to be in attendance present a tricky situation. People there will fall into three basic catagories as regards the Body and blood; Those who perceive fully, those partially perceive and those who perceive not at all. As always the level of "ignorance" will effect culpability.

For instance, in my case I related above, if the girl was not religious at all (I don't remember if she was or not) then her receiving would be in total ignorance and her culpability would be nil.

In the case of your uncle who should know better, the culpability is increased (but we can't say for sure how much).

I often wonder if, in the case of uneral masses, it wouldn't be a good idea for the priest to make an announcement for the benefit of any non-catholics (and non-practicing catholics), clarifying that communion is reserved only to those who are practiing Catholics.
This could perhaps be done as part of the homily/prayer intentions etc, or even before the mass begins.



No, this is not your responsibility.

If anyone, it is the priest's responsibility to make an announcement about who may receive the Eucharist. And, then, it is up to the individual, not you.


As you said, you are not positive he is not a Catholic. A funeral is not the place to say anything. Hopefully the priest did announce that non Catholics are not to recieve the Eucharist. If the priest did announced it, it is your Uncles decision to disregard what the priest said.

Certainly find a way to now talk to your Uncle, it is a good time to witness why non Catholics are not in communion with the church. If he is a Catholic and fallen away your bringing the subject up may prompt him to get to confession.

You are not responsible for he situation, but if you feel guilty, bring it up in confession.


I have just had a similar experience but I truly don't know how to proceed.

My grandparents are Catholic and I am Catholic convert (+- 15yrs ago) but my mother was married by the Church in 1974 but then separated and divorced and remarried in the Anglican Church. Her first husband has since passed away.

She does not consider herself Catholic and only attends Catholic mass when she goes with either her parents or myself.

My concern is that she receives communion as if she were a member in good standing, something that she obviously isn't and has no intention of ever becoming.

Has anyone experienced something similar? Should I say something to her?


Ask her why, if she does not consider herself Catholic any more, she receives communion. Receiving communion is a declaration that you are “in communion” with the Church and she is not. If she tells you that it is ok with her church if she does, gently explain to her that it is not ok with your Church and to please refrain in the future.


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