Catholic Schools With Non-Catholic Students

Q1:  My children attend a Catholic secondary school [run by a religious institute]. At the first Mass of the year, it was announced that an Anglican vicar would be available to distribute Communion to Anglicans or people from other denominations who were used to receiving Communion in their churches. Catholics should receive from the Catholic ministers.  We have since discovered that this is standard practice at all school Masses.

My husband and I could see how this solution could be seen as a sensitive pastoral response to a school body that is only around 70% Catholic … [but] we wondered what would occur if Muslim pupils wished elements of their faith practice to be incorporated into Mass. Or what of atheist pupils or their parents?

… Despite our assumption that the intention of the priests at the school is honourable and while it may seem to solve a delicate problem, doesn’t it in fact violate how Mass should be celebrated? –Samantha

Q2:  In my province, Catholic education is publicly funded and is widely available. This often leads to non-Catholics sending their children to the local Catholic school.  Sometimes the non-Catholic population is even the majority!

At our school Masses, it is common for Protestant Christian, Orthodox Christian and even atheist students to serve as lectors, cantors/psalmists, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion and altar servers. Is this permitted?

Once a teacher did not know how to distribute Holy Communion, so he simply just handed the chalice to each communicant.  Another time, a teacher identified herself as Orthodox to the celebrant before Mass, asking if it was acceptable for her to distribute Communion. The priest responded in the affirmative.

Now to be fair to my Bishop, he recently put forward a policy requiring all Extraordinary Ministers to be “mandated” by their home parish and to submit a list to the diocese, although its application to school Masses has yet to be seen.

… Whenever I suggested to our school administration that perhaps we should consider not having atheists or Protestants acting in these roles, I was met with great resistance.  Even my Spiritual Director is having a hard time pointing to a specific document dealing with this, because it is so inconceivable!   –John Paul Continue reading

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Repost: Is Confession Still an Easter Duty?

(This was written some time ago, but since it has become incredibly popular during the Lenten season, it seems worthwhile to bring it to readers’ attention once again.  Note that declarations of a “pandemic” do not eliminate the clergy’s responsibility to make the sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist available to the faithful, insofar as they are physically able to do so.  A blessed Easter to all!)

Q: When I was a kid, everyone was required during Lent to make his “Easter Duty.” Every parishioner received a card from the parish. When we went to confession before Easter, we handed the card to the priest. By Easter he had a huge stack of cards, showing which parishioners had made their Easter Duty and who hadn’t. But nowadays, people hardly ever go to confession like they used to, and nobody ever talks about Easter Duty. Has this requirement been abolished like so many other things? –Janet Continue reading

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Canon Law and the Mass Pro Populo

Q: At my parish, the same Sunday Mass used always to be the one celebrated by the pastor pro populo.  No stipend was ever taken for that Mass because it was not for anyone’s personal intention.

In the past few years, though, the pro populo Mass has been routinely shifted to a different Mass which is almost never celebrated by the pastor himself, and is attended by very few people.

The only possible reason for this change that I can see is simply financial: more stipends for the other Sunday Masses by shifting the pro populo Mass to one that often has no stipend offered or intention requested at all.

Can the Sunday Mass pro populo be celebrated by another priest?  I believe that the parish priest can even celebrate the pro populo Mass by himself if he’s travelling, for example; he doesn’t have to celebrate it within the parish.  But can he effectively exclude the majority of parishioners from it and turn the duty of celebrating it over to another priest or priests, on a more-or-less regular or permanent basis? –Nellie Continue reading

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Why Would a Bishop Refuse to Ordain a Seminarian?

Q:  I was a seminarian for nearly five years, and in fifth year I was suddenly and unexpectedly dismissed as a seminarian by the bishop.  He gave me three reasons for the dismissal, each of which I protested.  For example, the first reason he claimed was that a priest told him that some people said that I was “standoff-ish” during a novena in our cathedral….  The bishop couldn’t or wouldn’t give me any clarification and I was therefore unable to defend myself, except to say that I had never been described in such a way before.  The bishop refused to discuss very positive reports about me….  I felt in the course of our meeting that I could respond to and “fix” the charges being leveled against me, but I had the sense that the bishop did not want me to fix the situation.

I later learned that the seminary authorities were expecting me to stay in seminary and were giving me a positive report.

A number of weeks later, my mother wrote to the bishop about another matter – I was not aware of this until after she sent the letter. My mother was astonished when she received a response from the bishop in which he outlined the reasons why he had dismissed me – information which my mother never requested or mentioned in her letter. In fact, the bishop revealed information to her about my dismissal which I was not even aware of myself! There were also inconsistencies in his response compared to what he had said to me…

I wrote a letter to the bishop after my dismissal in order to express my dismay at the lack of clarity during our meeting, and I also expressed my concern at his imprudence in revealing personal information to my mother. I never received so much as an acknowledgement of this letter.

A couple of months later, the bishop resigned on health grounds.  This has made this situation even more difficult for me – that a bishop can make such a drastic decision, knowing he is about to resign, but yet not be obliged to give any concrete reasons for his decision….

Don’t get me wrong – I am not questioning the bishop’s authority to make a decision about me, but it appears to me that he abused his authority in this case. Nor do I believe that I have a right to be ordained a priest. I am motivated by a strong sense of justice, and I believe strongly that a serious injustice has prevailed here.

Have you any advice regarding how I might proceed with this?  The whole situation has made it difficult for me to move forward in my discernment….  I do not want to jeopardize my chances of being accepted by another bishop, but I would like to know if someone in my position has any sort of recourse. –Nevil Continue reading

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Which Parish Do I Belong To?

Q: In my diocese there is a parish which describes itself as “a non-territorial parish established to preserve and promote the traditional Latin Mass.”

What is the difference between a non-territorial parish and a “normal” parish?  I would assume the purpose of the non-territorial parish would be to enable any Catholic in the diocese to attend and it would be as if it were their “local” parish as far as Baptisms, Catechesis, Marriages, etc. are concerned?

Here’s a scenario: Geographic Parish A and Non-Territorial Parish B are both in the same diocese.  John lives within the boundaries of Parish A.  Because of his love for the traditional Latin Mass, John and his family attend Parish B.  Is John obliged to support, according to the precept, Parish A or B or both?  Would John require the Pastor of Parish A to give permission for him to marry in Parish B?

In general, which Parish takes precedence? –Peter Continue reading

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