Non-Catholic receiving Communion--should I say something?

Here is the situation: I go frequently to daily Mass at a parish where it is usually the same 12-15 people who attend every day. During the past few months, in addition to the usual small handful of parishioners, a young man, probably an older teenager (we’ll call him Joe), who I am pretty sure is not Catholic, has been attending faithfully. It is wonderful to see him there, and we want to encourage him to continue to come, and possibly join RCIA in the fall, if he is ready.

Normally, Joe remains in his seat while everyone else goes forward for Communion. A few days ago, I noticed a parishioner (who was probably well-meaning) motioning to him to come forward. Despite her urging, he remained in his seat. A day or two later, I saw him come forward–for the first time to my knowledge–to receive the Eucharist. Our priest would normally be good at talking to him and handling the situation kindly and tactfully, but he is gone this week and part of next week, and an elderly retired priest is celebrating Mass in his absence.

Should I talk to Joe and explain to him about receiving Holy Communion? Or should I wait until our priest gets back and bring it to his attention? (Although I respect the retired priest who has been coming to say Mass, I don’t know if I would trust him with this situation.) There will be a few more Masses before our priest returns, and chances are that Joe will be there. Not quite sure what to do . . .

It’s perfectly acceptable for you to charitably speak with Joe and explain he may go up for a blessing, but that he can’t receive unless he is Catholic. You might find it an opportunity to bring up his becoming Catholic.:slight_smile:

You might preface this with a direct question: Are you Catholic?

I think it would be alright to talk to him as long as you are polite. However, you didn’t say what makes you so sure the man isn’t Catholic. If he’s attending daily Mass, he’s probably a pretty faithful person. Perhaps he is Catholic but he knows he isn’t in a state of grace to recieve the Eucharist. Something to consider before approaching him.

And perhaps he went to Confession between the two events you mentioned. Seems as if there are a number of variables here that would give me pause before confronting the individual directly. I would refer the matter to your priest when he returns.

Yes! If he is not in full communion, or if he has mortal sin on his soul, he may be eating and drinking judgment upon himself. Remove the doubt and ask him. You might be very pleased with what happens. At the minimum, it is an avenue for dialog.

He may not even go up for a blessing. That is not permitted.

Non-Catholics and Catholics in a state of mortal sin may not join the Communion line to receive the Eucharist or a Blessing.

Sounds like a good opportunity to greet him and get to know him a little bit, offer some support and then, if needed, some coaching and instruction. Everything may be okay after all, and it never hurts to get to know someone.


Well keep in mind too that perhaps he is in a state of sin or broke the hour fast and that is the reason he does not go up. Other than that I would talk to him immediately.

On a side note I was baptized just this Easter and I still can’t believe that I can finally receive the Eucharist. It is so very special and all that time just getting a blessing only made the mystery that much more deeper for me. What a wonderful gift communion truly is.

First, why do you think he not Catholic? Second, why would you not trust the retired pries to say something? Who are you to judge? I am sure any priest would want to know about a problem. I find it very strange that people who go to Mass every day have the time to look through around the church deciding who is able or ready to receive communion. Maybe their are other people wondering what the state of your soul is & whether or not you should be receiving Communion. I think the focus should be on what is going on with the Mass, especially at Communion. You are not the Eucharist police. I think you should leave it to the priest.


Oh yikes. :eek:
I’m in choir and two of our choir members went up and received blessings in the communion line before they became Catholic. There’s another choir member who hasn’t been confirmed and receives the blessing. So I thought it was okay.
So sorry for the misinformation.:o

It would be reasonable to introduce yourself and perhaps open a dialog-he may come from a Church that has “open communion” like the Epsicopal Church or the Polish National catholic Church-if he read the missilette he would be made aware of who can receive communion in a Roman catholic Church-I would approach this with Charity and Love-really can not stand the 1 nasty comment posted -the one with the “flames”:o

Of course, say something. Just politely ask him if he’s Catholic and if he says he is not, just very politely inform him that only Catholics can receive communion.

I too thought it was perfectly fine for a non-Catholic to go and receive a blessing from a priest during communion. I thought that is what is done at weddings when some of those attending are of different faiths. Why would it make a difference?

If a blessing is indeed okay, suggest to the young man that he keep his hands folded which signals to the priest he wants a blessing.

Hmm…before going through all the necessary steps to come back to the Church, my Priest invited me to go come up for a blessing at each Mass… :shrug:

I think this is somewhat of an issue of contention. In my diocese, it is accepted that those who cannot recieve the Eucharist come up and recieve a blessing. Some people feel that this is wrong and a liturgical abuse of some kind. I believe it is allowed by the bishop currently. I’m not an expert on the subject, however, I was also surprised to find out that this is an issue.

Sigh. I was waiting for someone to throw the “judgmental” card. I’m not looking through the communion line wondering about the state of people’s souls. Nor am I trying to “police” who should receive Communion. I have reason to believe that he is not Catholic because someone had mentioned to me about his possibly enrolling in RCIA in the fall. And I would far rather that the priest be the one to talk to him about it; but I was just concerned, seeing that receiving the Eucharist is a serious thing and that our priest won’t be back for a little while yet. (I’d rather not get into why it would be better for our regular priest to talk to him.) I may just start another conversation with him and ask him along the way if he is Catholic, and go from there. If I brought up the subject of Communion at all (which I’m not sure yet if I will), I would be extremely tactful, as I don’t want to discourage him from coming to Mass.

It is not permitted. However, a priest is not going to send anyone packing from the Communion line when suddenly confronted by a person standing before him expecting a blessing.

May people join the Communion line for a Blessing?

Actually, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments answered this question with five observations back on November 22, 2008. The document bears an protocol number, No. 930/08/L.
Here is what the CDWDS wrote:


  1. The liturgical blessing of the Holy Mass is properly given to each and to all at the conclusion of the Mass, just a few moments subsequent to the distribution of Holy Communion.

  2. Lay people, within the context of Holy Mass, are unable to confer blessings. These blessings, rather, are the competence of the priest (cf. Ecclesia de Mysterio, Notitiae 34 (15 Aug. 1997), art. 6, § 2; Canon 1169, § 2; and Roman Ritual De Benedictionibus (1985), n. 18).

  3. Furthermore, the laying on of a hand or hands — which has its own sacramental significance, inappropriate here — by those distributing Holy Communion, in substitution for its reception, is to be explicitly discouraged.

  4. The Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio n. 84, “forbids any pastor, for whatever reason to pretext even of a pastoral nature, to perform ceremonies of any kind for divorced people who remarry”. To be feared is that any form of blessing in substitution for communion would give the impression that the divorced and remarried have been returned, in some sense, to the status of Catholics in good standing.

**5. In a similar way, for others who are not to be admitted to Holy Communion in accord with the norm of law, the Church’s discipline has already made clear that they should not approach Holy Communion nor receive a blessing. This would include non-Catholics and those envisaged in can. 915 (i.e., those under the penalty of excommunication or interdict, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin). **

You are right to say that it if the local Bishops allow it, blessings at Communion are permitted. Those who are uncomfortable about this keep trotting out the so called CDW authority suggesting it is forbidden, but this not the case. The opinion is a private one and has no authority: Rome is currently considering what guidance to issue, and my understanding is that Bishops will continue to be able to decide. There is a whole separate thread about this.

You know very well that this has no legal authority. Bishops have the authority to decide if blessings are permitted locally, and this practice continues pending further guidance from Rome. In England and Wales, blessings are not only permitted, they are encouraged.

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