My father in-law has been in the hospital for a week and last Sunday I believe what was an EMHC came by his room to distribute to him. He told the person no he couldn’t receive because he hasn’t been to confession. The EMHC told him in this case since he was in the hospital it was OK to receive. Was it OK for him to receive communion or did he commit a mortal sin?
If your father was in a state of mortal sin, he should not have received Holy Communion. Being in a hospital doesn’t change the state of one’s immortal soul. The EMHC should have made note of his name and room number and passed it on to his or her pastor so that the issue of Confession could be dealt with first. If I had been the EMHC in that situation I would have prayed with your father and moved on, telling him I’d contact a priest for him. I wouldn’t have encouraged him to commit a mortal sin.
I don’t think I would have asked, directly, “are you in a state of mortal sin?” Rather, I might have clarified that, if he feels that he’s in a state of mortal sin, or that he feels like he needs to talk with a priest before receiving, then I would defer giving him communion at this time and instead put his name on the list of patients requesting a priest’s visit. Then I’d ask him, “would you prefer to receive communion, or have a visit from a priest first?”
Even if he wasn’t in the state of mortal sin, the fact that he felt he needed confession should have been a tip off that he wasn’t correctly disposed. The EMHC should have respected that. Being in the hospital doesn’t justify his action.
I talked to my father in-law today about what happened last week. He told me that he told the EMHC that he wants to talk to a priest and he was going to refuse communion today. He hasn’t practiced his faith in a while so I know for a fact he was in a state of mortal sin for at least not attending mass. If there is anything else he has done I do not know about it. Anyway, since he hadn’t practiced in a while he told me since the EMHC said it was OK he thought maybe the rules had changed in regard to this. My question is, since the EMHC had told him it was OK to receive, did he actually commit another mortal sin by receiving while not in a state of grace because he trusted the EMHC?
No, it sounds as if he wasn’t sure if he had committed sacrilege (when he took communion) so it couldn’t have fulfilled the need for “full consent” necessary for a mortal sin. However, since he’s talked to you about it now, he would be committing mortal sin next time he took communion without confession first.