Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—August 21, 2005
Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.
From The Code of Canon Law (Canon 915)
In the last several weeks three parishioners who stepped forward to serve as Eucharistic ministers were denied communion by the Pastor and told to receive the sacrament with the rest of the congregation. The gathered assembly saw only the denial of communion and so was left with the impression that each of the three had been refused admittance to the sacrament. Most Catholics understand the significance of such a refusal—the person has either been excommunicated or is a public sinner (obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin).
No matter the Pastor’s intent and no matter what he may have actually said to each of them at the altar, his public action has slandered these parishioners by allowing the impression to be created that they were being denied the sacrament. The Pastor owes these three and the congregation a public apology for his, hopefully inadvertent, slander.
Assuming a person has had the proper training and can carry out the task and assuming a person is eligible to receive the sacrament, there should be no impediment to that person serving as a Eucharist minister (or as a lector, or as a choir member, etc.). There are not levels of worthiness for participation in our Eucharistic celebration; we’re all jus’ folks seeking to serve the community. So why the exclusion?
Only one of the three had been told by the Pastor that she was not to be a Eucharistic minister (in fact, he told her she was forbidden to participate in any parish activities, other than Sunday Mass). The reason the Pastor gave for this total exclusion was that she “was defiant and not in support [of the Pastor].”
The other two parishioners have certainly been openly critical of the Pastor and so it is reasonable to assume his denying them communion was in response to that criticism.
The Pastor’s actions in these situations are irrational and untheological. They represent an abuse of his authority, and most importantly, strike at the heart of our Christian community—the Eucharistic meal that binds us to Christ and to each other.
On August 10th, the Chancellor of the Diocese received a letter from those who had met with him as representatives of the 273 signers of the “letter of concerns” sent to the Pastor in April.
In this letter the representatives presented, as evidence of the further deterioration of parish life, the very real possibility that the religious education programs, sacramental preparation programs and the RCIA were not going to be able to start on time or even be conducted at all because the Pastor had put all preparations on hold (no ordering of materials, no scheduling allowed, etc.). Amazingly, the very next day the Pastor contacted those staff members responsible and told them to proceed with all the preparations he had previously forbidden them to make.
First, this incident indicates that the Diocesan administration is willing to intervene on some parish concerns.
Second, this incident indicates how far the Pastor is willing to go in his passive-aggressive campaign to destroy staff morale and to destroy the parish community. He was willing to allow the religious education programs to collapse so he could demonstrate to the staff and the parish that he is in control.
Recall the words of John McKenzie in Authority in the Church,
“The use of power in the vulgar sense of the imposition of one's will on another is in direct opposition to the sayings of Jesus…. Power is not a substitute for apostolic leadership. Power is not even an inferior way of achieving that end.”
These days, we are asked to Support Our Troops, to Support The United Way, or even (in the old James Garner movie) to Support Your Local Sheriff! Now we hear that we should Support Our Pastor.
All persons, particularly those in our parish community, are due our support, in that we pray that God opens their minds and hearts and gives them the strength to follow the Gospel. We can support a person without giving our assent to bad decisions they have made or bad policies they are carrying out.
Those clamoring for support of the Pastor cannot really mean that they support dismantling parish ministries, persecuting parishioners and a “management style” that has left the parish operation in a shambles, can they? Support Our Pastor with your prayers.
Preaching is relatively easy, but to live out what is preached … to respect the teachings of the Holy See, of the magisterium, to praise them, extol them, defend them theoretically is very easy.
But when one tries to incarnate that teaching and give it life in a diocese, in a community, and point out concrete events that are against that teaching, then the conflicts arise. But every priest, religious, or lay person who wants to announce Christ’s gospel in truth must suffer persecution. The witness of life is necessary. Here I make an appeal that all your lives and mine be in truth a silent preaching. Thus is the gospel lived, not just by preaching pretty sermons and not living them. Archbishop Oscar Romero, July 16, 1978
FYI—Two Bits of Canon Law
When the ministry of any pastor becomes harmful or at least ineffective for any cause, even through no grave personal negligence, the diocesan bishop can remove him from the parish. From The Code of Canon Law (Canon 1740)
The causes for which a pastor can be removed legitimately from his parish are especially the following:
1. A manner of acting which brings grave detriment or disturbance to ecclesiastical communion;
2. Ineptitude or a permanent infirmity of mind or body which renders the pastor unable to fulfill his functions usefully;
3. Loss of a good reputation among upright and responsible parishioners or an aversion to the pastor which it appears will not cease in a brief time;
4. Grave neglect or violation of parochial duties which persists after a warning;
5. Poor administration of temporal affairs with grave damage to the Church whenever another remedy to this harm cannot be found.
From the Code of Canon Law (Canon 1741)
See you at the Sunday night vigil—8:00 pm.
Prepared by RGV Parishioners for Progress and edited by Jerry Brazier. If you want an opportunity for prayerful discussion of these and other issues about the parish or have any other comments, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Please join us and other workers in a Labor Day Pilgrimage this Labor Day, Monday, September 5, 2005, beginning at 8 a.m., at Archer Park in McAllen and walking to San Juan’s Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan.” Complete details under our previous post "Labor Day Pilgrimage" at left.
Note: If you would like to contribute a posting or a comment to this site, please send it to: email@example.com, with "Holy Spirit" in your title line. You may also e-mail this article to a friend, simply by clicking on the little envelope icon below!