Once you start expecting a Catholic Priest to be Catholic when will it end?

by Datechguy | March 15th, 2012

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Once you start expecting a Catholic Priest to be Catholic when will it end?

Father Z post on the story of Fr. Mar­cel Guarnizo who has appar­ently been sus­pended for respect­ing the sacra­ments and the rules of confession:

If a Quaker, a Lutheran or a Bud­dhist, desir­ing com­mu­nion had intro­duced him­self as such, before Mass, a priest would be oblig­ated to with­hold com­mu­nion. If some­one had shown up in my sac­risty drunk, or high on drugs, no com­mu­nion would have been pos­si­ble either. If a Catholic, divorced and remar­ried (with­out an annul­ment) would make that known in my sac­risty, they too accord­ing to Catholic doc­trine, would be impeded from receiv­ing com­mu­nion. This has noth­ing to do with canon 915. Ms. Johnson’s cir­cum­stances are pre­cisely one of those rela­tions which impede her access to com­mu­nion accord­ing to Catholic teach­ing. Ms. John­son was a guest in our parish, not the arbi­trer of how sacra­ments are dis­pensed in the Catholic Church.

Or to put it another way. If I present myself for com­mu­nion as a Catholic know­ing I need con­fes­sion I am com­mit­ting mor­tal sin, but the priest has no way of know­ing that. If the priest how­ever knew that was the case, then he is eth­i­cally obliged to with­hold com­mu­nion to not be com­plicit in Mor­tal Sin.

So what did Fr. Guarnizo know and when did he know it con­cern­ing the lady in ques­tion? Funny you should ask…

A few min­utes before the Mass began, Ms. John­son came into the sac­risty with another woman whom she announced as her “lover”. Her rev­e­la­tion was com­pletely unsolicited.

and was not all that polite about it either:

As I attempted to fol­low Ms.Johnson, her lover stood in our nar­row sac­risty phys­i­cally block­ing my path­way to the door. I politely asked her to move and she refused.

It sounds to me like we have another San­dra Fluke, a per­son who was look­ing for con­fronta­tion and even worse, was using the occa­sion of a death of her mother to do so.

Fr. Guarnizo nails it here:

Ms. John­son was a guest in our parish, not the arbi­trer of how sacra­ments are dis­pensed in the Catholic Church.

Fr. Z in char­ity to the dio­cese says this:

Fr. G was sub­se­quently put on admin­is­tra­tive leave in that Arch­dio­cese for rea­sons, so it seems, other than the lesbian/​Communion event. More infor­ma­tion is forth­com­ing and in jus­tice I need to post it

I would be inter­ested in hear­ing exactly what they are claim­ing is the cause but my first thought is this: The dio­cese is mak­ing the same kind of mis­take that the Bish­ops did 15 years ago and more dur­ing the sex­ual scan­dals. They are mak­ing a deci­sion based on fear of what peo­ple would think. In the pre­vi­ous exam­ple they hid ille­gal behav­ior to pre­vent the embar­rass­ment of scan­dal what peo­ple would say or think and it led to dis­as­ter . While the is no civil crime or phys­i­cal harm in play, absent evi­dence to the con­trary (which I’ll post if it becomes avail­able) one must assume that the admin­is­tra­tion is once again act­ing in fear.

One must never for­get that there is only one rea­son to be Catholic, because it is true. And what does Christ say about that:

Then many of his dis­ci­ples who were lis­ten­ing said, “This say­ing is hard; who can accept it?”

Since Jesus knew that his dis­ci­ples were mur­mur­ing about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascend­ing to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spo­ken to you are spirit and life.

But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the begin­ning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him.

And he said, “For this rea­son I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.” As a result of this, many (of) his dis­ci­ples returned to their for­mer way of life and no longer accom­pa­nied him.

John 6:60 – 66

Christ never based truth on pop­u­lar­ity, nei­ther should his Archdiocese.

Update: Via com­men­ta­tor Lionel Andrades Ed Peters, who knows Canon Law a lot bet­ter than me, thinks I’m wrong here:

The chief norm requir­ing the faith­ful to pre­pare well for the wor­thy recep­tion of holy Com­mu­nion is Canon 916. Of its nature, how­ever, Canon 916, deal­ing essen­tially with inter­nal forum mat­ters, does not (any more than do sev­eral other canons in the Code) lend itself to exte­rior enforce­ment by eccle­si­as­ti­cal author­ity. Canon 916 binds gravely in con­science and an account­ing to God of one’s con­duct under that canon (or at any rate, under the val­ues it pro­tects) will be owed by each Catholic at Judg­ment. But Canon 916 itself is not regarded as an object of external-​forum enforce­ment by min­is­ters of holy Communion.

In con­trast, Canon 915 binds min­is­ters, not recip­i­ents. Pre­scind­ing from rarely encoun­tered excom­mu­ni­ca­tion and inter­dict sit­u­a­tions, Canon 915 lays out sev­eral dis­tinct con­di­tions that must be simul­ta­ne­ously sat­is­fied before a min­is­ter of Holy Com­mu­nion may (and indeed, should) with­hold the Eucharist from a mem­ber of the faith­ful. To jus­tify with­hold­ing the Eucharist under Canon 915 accord­ing to its plain terms, the con­duct in which a com­mu­ni­cant per­se­veres must be obsti­nate, man­i­fest, grave, and sin­ful. These con­di­tions must be under­stood and assessed accord­ing to the Church’s canon­i­cal tra­di­tion, else, one is no longer talk­ing about the law of the Catholic Church.

The whole thing is kind of a heavy read but the gist is that in this par­tic­u­lar case the deci­sion belongs to the recip­i­ent even if it involves sin, rather than the priest.

Read the whole thing but bot­tom line I’m cer­tainly going to defer to Mr. Peters in a case like this.

Father Z post on the story of Fr. Marcel Guarnizo who has apparently been suspended for respecting the sacraments and the rules of confession:

If a Quaker, a Lutheran or a Buddhist, desiring communion had introduced himself as such, before Mass, a priest would be obligated to withhold communion. If someone had shown up in my sacristy drunk, or high on drugs, no communion would have been possible either. If a Catholic, divorced and remarried (without an annulment) would make that known in my sacristy, they too according to Catholic doctrine, would be impeded from receiving communion. This has nothing to do with canon 915. Ms. Johnson’s circumstances are precisely one of those relations which impede her access to communion according to Catholic teaching. Ms. Johnson was a guest in our parish, not the arbitrer of how sacraments are dispensed in the Catholic Church.

Or to put it another way. If I present myself for communion as a Catholic knowing I need confession I am committing mortal sin, but the priest has no way of knowing that. If the priest however knew that was the case, then he is ethically obliged to withhold communion to not be complicit in Mortal Sin.

So what did Fr. Guarnizo know and when did he know it concerning the lady in question? Funny you should ask…

A few minutes before the Mass began, Ms. Johnson came into the sacristy with another woman whom she announced as her “lover”. Her revelation was completely unsolicited.

and was not all that polite about it either:

As I attempted to follow Ms.Johnson, her lover stood in our narrow sacristy physically blocking my pathway to the door. I politely asked her to move and she refused.

It sounds to me like we have another Sandra Fluke, a person who was looking for confrontation and even worse, was using the occasion of a death of her mother to do so.

Fr. Guarnizo nails it here:

Ms. Johnson was a guest in our parish, not the arbitrer of how sacraments are dispensed in the Catholic Church.

Fr. Z in charity to the diocese says this:

Fr. G was subsequently put on administrative leave in that Archdiocese for reasons, so it seems, other than the lesbian/Communion event. More information is forthcoming and in justice I need to post it

I would be interested in hearing exactly what they are claiming is the cause but my first thought is this: The diocese is making the same kind of mistake that the Bishops did 15 years ago and more during the sexual scandals. They are making a decision based on fear of what people would think. In the previous example they hid illegal behavior to prevent the embarrassment of scandal what people would say or think and it led to disaster . While the is no civil crime or physical harm in play, absent evidence to the contrary (which I’ll post if it becomes available) one must assume that the administration is once again acting in fear.

One must never forget that there is only one reason to be Catholic, because it is true. And what does Christ say about that:

Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?”

Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him.

And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.” As a result of this, many (of) his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.

John 6:60-66

Christ never based truth on popularity, neither should his Archdiocese.

Update: Via commentator Lionel Andrades Ed Peters, who knows Canon Law a lot better than me, thinks I’m wrong here:

The chief norm requiring the faithful to prepare well for the worthy reception of holy Communion is Canon 916. Of its nature, however, Canon 916, dealing essentially with internal forum matters, does not (any more than do several other canons in the Code) lend itself to exterior enforcement by ecclesiastical authority. Canon 916 binds gravely in conscience and an accounting to God of one’s conduct under that canon (or at any rate, under the values it protects) will be owed by each Catholic at Judgment. But Canon 916 itself is not regarded as an object of external-forum enforcement by ministers of holy Communion.

In contrast, Canon 915 binds ministers, not recipients. Prescinding from rarely encountered excommunication and interdict situations, Canon 915 lays out several distinct conditions that must be simultaneously satisfied before a minister of Holy Communion may (and indeed, should) withhold the Eucharist from a member of the faithful. To justify withholding the Eucharist under Canon 915 according to its plain terms, the conduct in which a communicant perseveres must be obstinate, manifest, grave, and sinful. These conditions must be understood and assessed according to the Church’s canonical tradition, else, one is no longer talking about the law of the Catholic Church.

The whole thing is kind of a heavy read but the gist is that in this particular case the decision belongs to the recipient even if it involves sin, rather than the priest.

Read the whole thing but bottom line I’m certainly going to defer to Mr. Peters in a case like this.

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