Friday, November 04, 2005

Why Did Child Molesters Remain on the Altar?

Who is Worthy of Holy Communion?

By Lisa Haddock
NJ Faith Forum Editor

Since 2002, stories about priests sexually abusing children and young people have flooded the news. These men were often returned to ministry after counseling. All too frequently, they also returned to committing grave crimes against children -- even as they celebrated the Eucharist.

The Eucharist is the heart of the Catholic faith. The Second Vatican Council described this Sacrament as “the source and summit of Christian life.” Broadly stated, those who receive Communion and celebrate Mass must be in a state of moral worthiness.

According to Catholic teaching, the bread and wine consecrated at Mass are mystically transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1333). Priests stand at the altar in the person of Christ (Catechism, 1548). By invoking the Holy Spirit, they consecrate wafers and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ.

Because of the holiness and centrality of this Sacrament, the Church sets precise rules for who can receive Communion.

According to the Church’s Code of Canon Law (916): “A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess.” [Emphasis mine.]

Canon 1395, Paragraph 2, states that a cleric who has committed a sexual offense “by force or threats or publicly or with a minor below the age of sixteen years, is to be punished with just penalties, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state if the case so warrants.”

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1 comment:

jan said...

We have to wonder if the Eucharist is valid when a Priest who is living in grave sin celebrates Mass. We are told that it is valid even if the Priest is not living in the light. While we know that "Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed" (John 3:20), those who don't love God may not have God living in them.
Jesus said in John 14,
"IF YOU LOVE ME, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever--the Spirit of truth......If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. MY FATHER WILL LOVE HIM, AND WE WILL COME TO HIM AND MAKE OUR HOME WITH HIM....But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you."
Are we listening to the Holy Spirit? It makes sense as stated in the Church's Code of Canon Law (916): "A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass...." So why are they?? The victim's age has nothing to do with whether a Priest can celebrate Mass. We all know that while something is legal, it can be sinful, immoral and abhorrent in God's eyes. Who can we trust to lead us? Only good shepherds who love God and His Church and who follow God's ways. We need to be alert and cautious.