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. 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.Read the rest here.
I understand and agree it is the policy of the archdiocese to assume good faith when a Catholic presents himself for communion; like most priests I am not at all eager to withhold communion. But the ideal cannot always be achieved in life.
In the past ten days, many Catholics have referenced Canon 915 in regard to this specific circumstance. There are other reasons for denying communion which neither meet the threshold of Canon 915 or have any explicit connection to the discipline stated in that canon.
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.
During the two eulogies (nearly 25 minutes long), I quietly slipped for some minutes into the sacristy lavatory to recover from the migraine that was coming on. I never walked out on Mrs. Loetta Johnson’s funeral and the liturgy was carried out with the same reverence and care that I celebrate every Mass. I finished the Mass and accompanied the body of the deceased in formal procession to the hearse, which was headed to the cemetery. I am subject to occasional severe migraines, and because the pain at that point was becoming disabling, I communicated to our funeral director that I was incapacitated and he arranged one of my brother priests to be present at the cemetery to preside over the rite of burial.
I will say just two things: first, if Father Guarnizo is indeed subject to debilitating migraines then I have complete sympathy for his inability to accompany the family to the grave site (especially just having had two days' worth of that pain). As my fellow migraine sufferers know, stress can be a trigger, so it's even entirely possible that the stress of the situation re: Barbara Johnson's untimely revelation was a contributing factor to the onset of the pain.
Second, Father seems to think that there are reasons other than 915 why a person may not be admitted to Holy Communion. If he is misinformed or badly educated, I'm sure that his superiors will make sure that he understands that he does, indeed, have to act henceforth as if everyone who approaches him for Communion is a baptized Catholic in good standing, regardless of whether he has been informed otherwise (even by the person himself), unless the person in question is obstinately persisting in manifest grave sin.
UPDATE: Ed Peters says yes, Father is misinformed (badly educated?) and so are all of his would-be defenders. I suppose that if a heterosexual male were to introduce a priest right before Mass to his female lover (using that word) the priest would be likewise required to assume that the couple is chaste and platonic, right? And to give them Communion? Because 915 has not been met?