Why Can't My Sister Have Last Rites?

Sister was dying of a massive head trauma she received while in the care of a nursing home, she had Huntingtons Chorea. I am Catholic, she was not, had only verbal confirmation from her daughter that she was baptized in protestant faith (no paperwork)…I asked the Priest on hospital call if she could have last rites, and his response was no because she was not baptized into Catholic faith…it was Jesus that initated anointing of the sick and dying and he was not Catholic, he was Jewish, he did not ask those who were in need of anointing if they were of any paricular religion, race or creed, his anointing and healing were for all. My sister died without the sacrament. Why couldn’t she receive it?

The priest was essentially correct:

Can. 844 §1 Catholic ministers may lawfully administer the sacraments only to catholic members of Christ’s faithful…

Catholic priests are normally not permitted to administer sacraments to non-Catholics except under the following limited conditions:

Canon 844 §4. If the danger of death is present or if, in the judgment of the diocesan bishop or conference of bishops, some other grave necessity urges it, Catholic ministers administer these same sacraments licitly also to other Christians not having full communion with the Catholic Church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who seek such on their own accord, provided that they manifest Catholic faith in respect to these sacraments and are properly disposed.

Given that it was not your sister who was asking for the anointing of the sick and the priest had no reason to believe that as a Protestant she shared the Catholic faith in the sacrament of the sick, he was well within reason for not administering the sacrament to her. Besides being a matter of canon law it is also a matter of social behavior. If you were the lone Catholic member of a Hindu family would you appreciate it if Hindu rites were performed on you at your hour of death?

The sacraments are not automatic, they require some assent, or at least lack of denial, on the part of the one receiving them.

I would not blame the priest in this situation, he was doing what he thought was right.

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