Refusing First Holy Communion to Children Who Are Ill-Prepared

Q:  I am a volunteer in our parish’s catechism program, and I help run the First Holy Communion preparation…. As has unfortunately become very common, we get a LOT of uncatechized children and an ever-increasing number of uncatechized parents in our program.  We normally require the candidates and their families to regularly attend Holy Mass for obvious reasons, though attendance is very patchy in some cases.

If a child shows signs that he or she doesn’t believe what we are teaching, e.g. explicitly saying things in a very innocent way that clearly contradict what we are teaching, can the pastor still decide that the child is properly disposed?  Can he decide to delay the Sacrament to the next year?

Or to use stronger language: can you imagine a situation in which admitting a child to First Holy Communion would ever be a sacrilege? Is the child’s youth or family situation an excuse for all manner of unbelief?

I understand that fruitful reception of the Sacrament of the Eucharist is tied to being properly disposed.  At the same time, I understand that the “faithful” have a right to the Sacraments. But is there a definition of what constitutes a “faithful” person?  –Jenny Continue reading

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Ecclesia Supplet: Making Invalid Sacraments Valid

Q:  You mentioned in “Invalid Baptisms and Unaccountable Clergy” that when Father Hood [of the Archdiocese of Detroit, Michigan] discovered that his own baptism was invalid and he was not a priest, that meant all the weddings, confirmations, and anointing of the sick which he had celebrated were invalid too.

I’m wondering why Ecclesia supplet does not apply to these sacraments?  The Church supplies validity when there’s a doubt, and there certainly was a doubt here … [because] everyone assumed Father Hood was an ordained Catholic priest.  Not arguing with you, just trying to understand… –Maria Continue reading

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Invalid Baptisms and Unaccountable Clergy

Q1:  We’re from Michigan, and the invalid baptism of Father Matthew Hood in the Detroit Archdiocese is all over the Catholic news … lots of people are now wondering if their children were invalidly baptized too, or even if their own baptisms were performed invalidly.  Others are saying we should all leave it to God and not worry about it.  What should we do if we’re not sure our children’s baptisms are valid?  It doesn’t seem right for the Church to leave us in uncertainty after what’s happened to Fr. Hood….  Can we insist that they be baptized again conditionally? –Nicole

Q2: In light of this recent news story, it struck me that this would be a good topic for a post.  Hard to believe the Archdiocese took such a hard-nosed position.  Seems they could have found the priest’s baptism to be illicit but valid. –Mike Continue reading

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When (and How Much) Can a Bishop Tax a Parish?

Q1: We found out totally by accident that when we donate money to our parish for any purpose, the diocesan bishop takes more than 10% of it as a tax for diocesan expenses. Even when the parish takes up a collection for foreign missions, or for relief efforts after an earthquake or massive flooding or something like that, the bishop takes a cut. We were never openly told that he does this. Is it legal? –Daniel

Q2: I thought a lot about your article about withholding financial aid from churches … and not to “punish” a parish or priests just because of the bishop.  I’m feeling more and more called to avoid giving money to [my bishop], but not sure how to do that when parish contributions are “taxed” at 16% or something like that.  One person I met recently suggested that you can pay a parish’s bills directly (e.g., pay the electric bill) … ?  –Kelli Continue reading

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When Can a Pastor be Removed From Office?

Q:  In this article you mentioned in passing that a bishop can’t remove the pastor of a parish just because the pastor does something the bishop doesn’t like.  Can you elaborate?

I ask because in Wales a pastor was castigated for celebrating a wedding during the lockdown, and there was talk in the news about the bishop possibly removing him from the parish for doing this.  I don’t see how a pastor could be removed for ministering to the people of his parish?  That’s essentially punishing him because he didn’t violate canon law… –Cameron Continue reading

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