The Denial of Holy Communion Due to Obstinate Perseverance in Manifest Grave Sin: The Application of c. 915 in the American Context

Title: The Denial of Holy Communion Due to Obstinate Perseverance in Manifest Grave Sin: The Application of c. 915 in the American Context
Authors: Morrison, Laura
Date: 2016-04-11
Abstract: The pastoral interpretation and application of the clause of c. 915 which says those who are obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communions, as applied to persons in irregular marriages and politicians that espouse “pro-choice” platforms, is the focus of this study. A tremendous amount of confusion and alienation on the part of the faithful occurs in relation to the application of the pertinent clause in parishes and dioceses throughout the United States, due to the words used in the norm and an inconsistent application of them. The approaches within the Church are disparate. Some are told by their pastors that they simply must face the consequences of the choices they have made and not present themselves for Communion until their situation is corrected. Others are never approached about the issue. Few, though, are provided with an explanation of the law and an opportunity to discuss their personal circumstances in relation to it, in any meaningful way; that is, with an opportunity to make informed decisions about how to proceed in their lives. Most people to whom the law of c. 915 is applicable were not sufficiently catechized to know they could be denied Holy Communion if they divorced and civilly remarried or ran on a particular political party platform. As this study will show, there are historical reasons, some of which have been acknowledged by the Church, for why this is often not substantially the fault of those presenting for Communion. To some of the faithful it seems that the law or the manner by which it is applied is judgmental and evidences a lack of charity. Others, though, propound a theory that it is charity which prompts them to support denial of Communion. The disunity which the current application prompts, demonstrates the demand for a new approach to the application of c. 915; one that focuses on catechesis and reconciliation, and more evidences the charity and mercy required of the followers of Christ. A portion of the study that offers reflections on the theological underpinnings of c. 915 also provides perspectives for addressing its application in consideration of notions of conscience and moral law that should be factored into any application of the clause. Additionally, the study proposes an original program which employs restorative justice principles in a neutral setting and may profitably be used to avert the pastoral and canonical problems that have arisen in the application of c. 915. It is titled “Dialogue of Charity: kairos of Mercy” and includes three participants to a Dialogue meeting: (1) the Communicant, namely, the person who has been, or may be, denied Communion under the pertinent clause of c. 915; (2) the Canonist or, if not a degreed canonist, a cleric from the diocese knowledgeable in the pertinent canon law and Church doctrine; and (3) a Facilitator who is trained to prompt and address issues which arise during the Dialogue. The meeting is intended to provide a venue in which Communicants are encouraged to share details about themselves and be guided in understanding how their situation is viewed in terms of Church teaching and law, so they may discern a future course of action. Participation in the Dialogue can be invaluable in the event that the Communicant wishes to participate in a relevant legal process, to wit, taking recourse against a decision denying them Communion, petitioning, re-petitioning for a declaration of nullity of their marriage, or responding to a petition. During this time of mercy, in consideration of charity, and based on the findings of this study, the Church must approach the topic from the perspective of the obvious: that the matter of the application of the “obstinate perseverance in manifest grave sin” clause must be reviewed and that a remedy must be put into place for assisting those to whom the pertinent clause may be applied.
CollectionThèses Saint-Paul // Saint Paul Theses