Witnessing Communion-related Abuse

I apologize if this is question is posted in the wrong area, first and foremost!

I happened to witness a priest inviting non-Catholics to communion a while ago, while attending a Catholic retreat (specifically one involving university-aged Catholics and non-Catholics). I am not sure if this still goes on, however, I strongly suspect that it is. My biggest regret is not speaking up and saying something about this, but I am careful such that I thought that talking bad about priests was an insult to Christ. But anymore, I don’t know…?

I have been praying about what I have witnessed, and something tells me I should do something about it, but I am not sure what I could actually do besides pray for the priest (even more than I already do). I have confessed this, but did not receive any suggestions. Should I go back to confession someplace else? Although I guess I should know what to do at my age (28), but I don’t. Any suggestions? Has anyone witnessed this as well? Also, please take into consideration that I am not a cradle-Catholic, but am a convert who still has truckloads to learn, but loves every minute of learning :smiley:

GEEZ, that sounds pretty bad, and scary, cant imagine what his agenda/ motive might be for doing such a thing?? I think I would go above his head and report him, plus tell as many other parish members as well, see what they think.

I’d bring this to the attention of the Bishop.

Was it sacramentally blessed, or was this an off-the-books, just bread-and-wine kind of thing? I imagine that could make a difference in calculating the severity of the error.

This is definitely out-of-line. The Church says non-Catholics can only go to Catholic communion if it they cannot go to their own church then and if they believe the same thing about the eucharist that Catholics do. I saw any non-catholics present invited to communion one time and, along with others there, was disturbed by this.
You could talk with the priest about this. Then if you aren’t satisfied by whatever he says, you could write to the bishop (or if you want to write straight to the bishop), you could google to the diocese’s webpage and get the address of the diocese’s headquarters in that way.
This is not something you need to go to confession about, although of course you could always ask for advice then. If you ask a priest in confession about this, this perhaps though could put him in a bad spot. For all he knows, you could use his name in your complaint, and this also could get back to the priest you are complaining about.

Are you certain he was inviting them up to receive Communion? Is it possible that he was inviting them to come up to receive a blessing?

I would be distressing to witness such a thing. The other posters asked some valid questions about what you may or may not have witnessed. You also noted that it was “awhile ago” It may be too late to make an official report depending on when. Can you go to that priest’s Mass again and perhaps you’d find some comfort if all is as it should be and if not, then speak to him or report him to his superior?

You mention it was retreat for university aged Catholics and Non Catholics. I’m just guessing like Gorgias and 1new catholic that it wasn’t a consecrated host. Maybe it was just unblessed for the non-catholics to get the “feel” of communion as a step toward becoming Catholic. Seems like a pretty strange thing to do if that’s the case, but I agree that maybe you could talk to this priest and find out. If he really did give them the blessed host I would report it to the bishop.

Thanks for all of the suggestions!

As for the questions:
@mikekle: My gut feeling is that it was done in order to not leave others out of Communion. Plus, the priest did admit to us that he was unorthodox and more of a “hippie”. :banghead:

@1newcatholic: Yes, I believe it was sacramentally blessed, as this occurred during a Mass, and the priest said the Eucharistic prayers leading up to receiving the Eucharist (although it was in a more relaxed atmosphere: i.e. it took place amongst mostly college students, college Catholics served as Eucharistic ministers, etc.)

@ Gorgias: The priest actually said “I invite all of those who are Catholic and non-Catholic up to receive the Eucharist, so long as you believe in the Real Presence”. I am not sure if nonverbal agreement on that sort of thing makes things official…?

@PrayPsalm51: I was thinking about going back to the yearly retreat offered, since this specific Mass occurred during that retreat. I assume that it still goes on, and more recently I have been thinking about it and I would need to sign up to go on the retreat within the next few months. Although I have graduated, I am allowed to go back at any time, so I may just do that.

Yes this did happen over a year ago, and I admit that I “ran away” from this problem by pretending it didn’t happen, instead of seeking the Blessed Mother’s guidance in tackling it head-on (which is probably why I am feeling guilt now). However, this incident popped into my mind recently, and I have been pondering it for a bit. I also will speak with a Canon about this sometime tomorrow…

I guess I’m confused as to what constitutes a consecrated host vs. a nonconsecreated host…? Does the difference lie in how the host is made? Also, the actual retreat was geared towards Catholics, as it was the campus Catholic center that sponsored it, although non-Catholics signed up as well.

Don’t beat yourself up for not doing something immediately. Your conscience is always being formed and becoming more attuned. I know I notice things now that I never would have thought twice before. You are doing the right thing now, letting it go in confession and seeking answers. Good Post. We can all learn and maybe know what to do if we are faced with similar situation.

The priest actually said “I invite all of those who are Catholic and non-Catholic up to receive the Eucharist, so long as you believe in the Real Presence”.

Definitely an abuse. Write the bishop in the most polite, mature, formal, and factual way possible. Bear in mind the bishop might not do anything about it, but you will have discharged your duty. Avoid this priest if you can.

It’s consecrated if, in the context of Mass, he prays the Eucharistic Prayer (specifically, the words of institution - “this is my body…”). So, it definitely sounds like it was truly the Eucharist. :frowning:

Pray for that priest - hopefully, it was just a lapse in judgment, from which he’s recovered…

UGH! I’ve had the worst experiences at retreats…Women apparently should be priests and shoulder the blame for the “Sin of Adam.” Such like as that. What is it about retreats? Yesterday a retreat priest in the middle of a retreat week arbitrarily and capriciously offered Holy Communion by “dipping” or “intinction.” I’m Roman Rite, and I thought the priest was, too, and so was everybody else and they didn’t know we have to have special permission from the Bishop or be in an emergency situation to receive by intinction. So I begged off and I presume everybody thinks I’m an alcoholic. So much the better. But why does this stuff always pop up in those cozy settings where peer pressure to shut up usually rules cowards like me? God spare us. And God help our priests please Him fully.

I agree with you about retreats - they seem to be an invitation for all kinds of crazy liturgical free-styling.

But you are mistaken about intinction. Intincition is a valid way to receive Communion. No special permission is necessary.

It definitely sounds like an abuse. Before you contact the bishop in charge of the priest, it might be appropriate to contact the priest and explain your concerns to him.

I seem to remember something in the Bible about working your way up the chain of command before going straight to the top–take a friend with you, and talk to the priest in person in a spirit of love, and if you are unable to resolve the issue that way, then it is definitely time to speak (in the same spirit of love) to his hierarchical superior.

You can cc the priest, but you are under absolutely no obligation to start with the priest, either canonically, or even as a matter of courtesy. Your bishop is your ordinary and is technically, the true first stop in a so-called chain-of-command.


Matthew 17.15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

Yes? What of it? This passage is describing a situation that you keep between yourselves to avoid public shame. But that ship has sailed in this case because what the priest is doing is a public abuse. In other words, he’s not trespassing on someone personally. It’s not about protecting one from personal humiliation, it’s protecting the flock from serious error.

Oh, dear; having known my share of hippie priests and hippie professors, I think the clue to the nature of the abuse or non-abuse may be in what was said here. The line of reasoning (which, as a disclaimer, I think is nuts, but I heard it a lot – or versions there of – going a few decades back) is . . .

"I am a self-proclaimed hippie priest and truly do not want to wound anyone’s heart by telling them NO, or that they are EXCLUDED from something. Therefore, I will warmly and lovingly invite everyone to receive communion with the stipulation that they ‘believe in the Real Presence.’ The Catholics and Non-Catholics present, because they are all good people and God’s special children, will all know what that means and only the Catholics will receive and I will not have hurt anyone’s feelings. If someone mistakenly receives, well that is not their fault and it is not my fault. Now we can all sing ‘Kumbaya’ because everyone still likes me best. "

The whole mentality is rather akin to the professors who want students to grade themselves (“if someone goes the short distance from near excellence to true excellence, why should they get a better grade than someone who actually learns more and goes from stupidity to mediocrity?”), until they figure out that all those honest and trustworthy college students are smart enough to give themselves an A regardless when asked to do so.

Just my thoughts.

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