I was inadvertantly called evil today

Written by Joel on August 30th, 2009

The small town culture shock continues. Today my wife and I went back to the local Catholic church down the street, but at a time we hadn’t tried before. Apparently the pastor is on vacation so a visiting priest presided.

The visiting priest begin his homily saying “There was a new phenomenon which began in the 1960s called theological dissent, when it became common to disagree with the church. If this were the 1600s they would be called Protestants but now they are called theological progressives.”

He went on to say “this dissent is evil. To stray even the least little bit from the teachings of the church is explicit evil!” He then went on to explain the specific form of evil/dissent which is abortion. This was the entirety of his message for the next 15 minutes: “abortion is evil, dissent from the Catholic church is evil.”

He continued with the rhetoric about how Notre Dame is no longer a Catholic institution because they invited President Obama to speak at commencement. This is August 30, is this all this priest has been preaching about for the past three months? I can’t believe people are still harping on this!

Today is the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary time and the readings were:

Deuteronomy 4:1-2,6-8
Psalm 15
James 1:17-18,21-22,27
Mark 7:1-8,14-15,21-23

What do these scriptures have to do with dissent and abortion? The homily ought to be a continuation of the word of God, not our own political soapbox. I do not believe the word of God was preached in this church on this day.

Being a Protestant Christian, I couldn’t help but focus on his opening when he called dissent and Protestants evil. I was so profoundly hurt by this homily. My wife (who is Catholic) expressed her apologies for the priest’s homily. She told me “I do not belong to the church which preaches these things; this is not the Catholic Church I know!” Never have I heard such an active destruction of the unity of the Body of Christ. Not to mention his own dissent of Catholic doctrine which teaches that Protestants have a real, however incomplete, union with the Catholic church by virtue of our baptism. Consider a Protestant who might be thinking about entering the Catholic church. Would this homily help or hinder someone’s decision to enter the church? Or perhaps someone who has been affected by abortion. What hope can be provided to that suffering soul if you bash them with just how evil they are? Would this homily help or hinder someone recovering from the destructive powers of abortion?

As I left the church I shook the preacher’s hand. I looked him right in the eye and said, quite calmly, “Father, I am a Protestant Christian and you called me evil today.” A brief second went by, and a few eye-blinks. He was clearly taken aback. He stuttered for a moment and began to back pedal. “Well,” he said “I wasn’t saying Protestants were evil, I was talking to people within the Catholic church, those who should know better.” I responded “Please be aware of what you are saying and how it might harm the unity we all hope for.” He came back with a weak apology “That’s certainly not what I meant. I’ve been a priest for 23 years and have never called Protestants evil.”

He patted me on my shoulder as I left and a woman behind me in line shook the priest’s hand. I overheard her say “bravo on such a wonderful homily.”

Be sure to read the followup!


20 Comments so far ↓

  1. Jason Weirich says:


    The last line of your blog…where the lady congratulated the priest on a “great homily”. I am disgusted after hearing that because I encountered that a few months ago but on the reverse side of it.

    I am Protestant like you and Steph (my wife) is Catholic. During the Easter Sunday sermon, my pastor (where I worked) totally avoiding preaching or celebrating the Resurrection. This shocked me and especially my wife as we just came back from an awesome Easter Mass.

    My wife briefly questioned my pastor (my boss too!) after the service about not celebrating the Resurrection. The next week, I got scolded in staff meeting because our church “does not do traditions just to do them” and I should talk to Steph and “work things out” before we get married.

    Needless to say, my boss heard from a lot of people that week about not celebrating Easter. The next Sunday, he was preaching about the Church and then went off on track and bashed being traditions-led, should be spirit-led.

    My wife’s view of my boss never got better after that. My boss never really accepted my wife into the life of the Church because of her being Catholic. Difficult place to be in. Due to various circumstances, I no longer work there as of last Tuesday.

    Ecumenism is an interesting topic here in southcentral Pennsylvania. Some people grasp it and some people are intimidated by other churches, Christian denominations.

  2. Agellius says:

    Do you disagree that we ought to judge the sin but not the sinner? I see nothing in what you quoted this priest as saying, which violates that precept.

    He said “this dissent is evil”. Not “these dissenters are evil”. In equating Protestants with Catholic dissenters, this would mean that the Protestant Reformation was evil (which in the eyes of the Church it certainly was), but doesn’t necessarily mean that individual Protestants are. And since he told you expressly that he didn’t mean that individual Protestants are evil, I should think he made himself perfectly clear on that point. For you to continue insisting that he called *you* personally evil is to defy the evidence. Furthermore, it seems uncharitable on your part, since charity dictates that we put the best possible construction on the remarks of others, not the worst.

    As far as abortion, there is simply no question that the Catholic Church considers it to be intrinsically and objectively, always and everywhere evil. I realize you’re concerned that someone who has been “affected by abortion” — by the way, what does it mean to be “affected by abortion”? Are you talking about someone who has deliberately procured an abortion? Because to call the deliberate procuring of an abortion being “affected by abortion” is euphemistic to the extreme — Anyway, I realize you’re concerned that someone who has had her baby killed might be upset by hearing a priest call that act evil. But by the same token, how do you persuade people to avoid committing evil acts if you can’t even describe them as evil?

    Saying that a homilist should not call abortion evil, since someone who has aborted her baby might hear him and feel bad, is like saying we shouldn’t call bank robbery evil, because there might be among the congregation a bank robber who might be offended.

    I understand that Protestants and mothers who have had abortions might not find it pleasant to find themselves criticized, however indirectly. But I submit that it’s a greater evil to refrain from preaching the moral teaching of the Catholic Church to Catholics at Catholic masses. If we may not learn morals from our own priests at our own masses, where may we learn it?

    Again, it would be kind in you to interpret the priest’s remarks in the best possible way rather than the worst possible way.

    By the way, you didn’t receive communion did you? Because that would certainly be evil. : )

    • Joel says:

      What is the practical difference between saying “dissent is evil” and “those who dissent are evil”? I will argue that there is no difference. And this is not the Catholic teaching on the Protestant communions anyway. Protestants according to teaching are not evil dissenters nor is Protestantism evil dissent; we are separated brethren. In fact Ut Unum Sint claims fault is “on both sides.”

      I am in agreement with the evils of abortion, and as I look back I believe my greatest discomfort is how far this homily was removed from the Lectionary texts for the given Sunday. I believe (in my Protestant way) that the homily is, or well ought to be, an extension of the word of God. When a preacher strays from the word of God found in the reading of scripture it is an abuse of the power of the ambo.

      No, I did not receive, though I plan on approaching the priest with the question of Eucharistic hospitality in the near future. I do not appreciate your flippant remarks about the supposed “evil” of Eucharistic reception. Please try to understand how hurtful this situation is – not being welcomed to receive Eucharist with my wife – to name that evil but cover it with an smirk is down right disrespectful.

  3. Agellius says:

    You write, ‘What is the practical difference between saying “dissent is evil” and “those who dissent are evil”?’

    In that case you disagree with the precept “judge the sin, not the sinner”, since you draw no distinction between the two, correct? In which case, “hate the sin, love the sinner” is equally impossible. What follows, then, is that it is uncharitable to call any act evil, since in so doing you will automatically be insulting and hurting the feelings of everyone who is guilty of the act. Thus, the Catholic Church must ban the word “evil” from all homilies, and Catholic parents must refrain from teaching their children that any act that anyone might ever commit could be considered evil, since that would imply that the persons committing them are equally evil.

    Your mistake, however, is in failing to note the distinction between the objective sinfulness of an act, and the subjective culpability of an individual for committing that sin. You can judge the one but not the other. The priest, judging by his words which you quoted, apparently made that distinction.

    You write, “And this is not the Catholic teaching on the Protestant communions anyway. Protestants according to teaching are not evil dissenters nor is Protestantism evil dissent; we are separated brethren.”

    Have you not read the decrees of the Council of Trent (http://history.hanover.edu/texts/trent/trentall.html), wherein one Protestant doctrine after another is condemned, and those who hold them anathematized? (See in particular the Canons on Justification — to make it easier you can just search on the word “anathema”.)

    I agree that we are separated brethren, since the Catholic Church believes there is only one baptism. But do you suppose that the Church considers the “separated” part to be a good thing, or a bad thing? Do you forget that Martin Luther himself was excommunicated for refusing to submit his teachings to the authority of the Church? What was that refusal, if not dissent from the Church’s authority?

    As far as being unable to receive communion, I certainly do understand how hurtful it is. Very few things would hurt me more. But like Martin Luther, your separation from the Blessed Sacrament is your own doing. It can be undone by submitting to the Church’s teachings. As I’ve tried to explain before, what you are doing is demanding to be treated as a member of the Church, yet without joining the Church; you want to be united while remaining separated; you want to be Catholic while remaining Protestant. In short, you want to have your cake and eat it too. The solution to your separation from the Church and the Sacrament is to stop separating yourself.

    As far as “Eucharistic hospitality” is concerned, if you have read my comment under “A Welcoming Eucharist” (http://theprophetjoel.com/2009/04/a-welcoming-eucharist/#comments), you know the Church’s official position on the matter. I don’t think there is anything in the “Guidelines for Receiving Communion”, or the USCCB article “Can Non-Catholic Christians be admitted to sacramental communion in the Roman Catholic Church?”, that is unclear to a literate layman. If your local pastor decides to violate these norms he will be committing a grave sin and a sacrilege (objectively speaking), as will you.

    I’m sorry you find these facts hurtful, but I did not invent them, nor am I their cause.

    • Joel says:

      Again you overly simplify these matters.

      Non-Catholics ARE admitted to communion by canon 844 subsections. Also see the Diocese of Saskatoon’s “Pastoral Directives for Sacramental Sharing.” A Roman Catholic diocese in full communion with Rome which allows reception of Eucharist by non-Catholic spouses.

      The separation is NOT one sided. It is completely unfair to blame the Protestants as if we “left.” There are Protestants that would argue that the Roman Catholic Church left the faith. There are parties on both sides to blame, and it is not a simple matter of deciding to “stop separating oneself.”

  4. Agellius says:

    I happened to come across this article, coincidentally, on a Mormon blog: http://summatheologica.wordpress.com/2007/08/27/what-would-jesus-say-to-a-mormon/

    The author quotes an evangelical speaker, and then expresses appreciation for the way the speaker expressed himself to his Mormon audience. Here is the quote from the evangelical:

    ‘[One] thing that I’m not going to do this morning, which maybe somebody wondered if a guest speaker would, is to preach some harsh or condemning message. I have often heard Christians, for example, turn to the Book of Galatians and read from the very first chapter where Paul is talking to that church in what today we would call central Turkey, and he writes “I’m astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different Gospel which is really no Gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the Gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a Gospel other than the one we preached to you, let that person be under God’s curse.”

    ‘There is a time and a place, as Paul illustrates, particularly in speaking to God’s people to warn them in strong language about what in a given place and time in the Church’s history is significant deviation from historic orthodox truth in those areas that are so central that someone’s salvation might be called into question.

    ‘But it strikes me, as I read the whole sweep of the New Testament, that the times Jesus and Paul and the other apostles speak like this, and speak most harshly, is when they are talking, we might say, ‘in house’–Jesus to the religious leaders of his community, particularly certain Pharisees and scribes; Paul, here, to a group of individuals that he goes on to call Judaizers who are requiring, even as they confess Christ, people to obey the Jewish law as a requirement for salvation. And he is not directly addressing them so much as he is trying to convince those in churches he personally planted and founded, not to be let astray. There is a time and a place for those kind of messages.

    ‘But when Jesus is speaking to the one outside his community, when Paul is trying to win those not in his churches to the faith, we find a very gentle, a very wooing spirit. We find Jesus criticized for intimate association with tax collectors and sinners. We see Paul saying in 1st Corinthians 9 that he tries to be “all things to all people, so that by all means, he might save some.” So in that spirit, I would like to hope, I don’t know if it’s true, that we might have some Latter-day Saint guests with us with us this morning. If we don’t, I have some friends that I’m imagining sitting in the audience from the LDS Church and I want to speak to them, in ways that I believe they would agree represent their convictions, and I simply invite the rest of you to listen in. (04:13 – 09:45)”

    The point being, that the biblical example is that we may speak harshly to those who are within our communion, by way of warning and admonition, to keep the flock from straying into error and sin; even while we try to be more tactful and courteous when speaking to those outside our communion.

    This is apropos of your experience with that priest (judging by your description of the event), because the priest was preaching to Catholics in a Catholic Church. Thus according to the biblical example he acted appropriately in admonishing them harshly to avoid dissent and not support abortion. You happened to be visiting our internal worship services and therefore were a witness to it, but it was not addressed to you. I think the priest made clear that he viewed the situation in this way, when he said, “I was talking to people within the Catholic church, those who should know better.”

  5. Agellius says:

    The only part of Canon 844 that would apply to you is Canon 844, §4: “If there is a danger of death or if, in the judgement of the diocesan Bishop or of the Episcopal Conference, there is some other grave and pressing need, catholic ministers may lawfully administer these same sacraments to other christians not in full communion with the catholic Church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who spontaneously ask for them, provided that they demonstrate the catholic faith in respect of these sacraments and are properly disposed.”

    The document you cite, issued by the bishop of the Diocese of Saskatoon, implements Canon 844 §4 by specifying that “grave and pressing need” includes major life events such as baptisms, weddings, funerals, etc. (Naming these as occasions of “grave and pressing need” along the same lines as “a danger of death” seems dubious to me, but hey, he’s the bishop.)

    I have read the “Pastoral Notes for Sacramental Sharing with other Christians in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon” ( http://ecumenism.net/archive/stoon_sacramental_sharing_notes_2008.doc ) which was written as guidance for those implementing the Pastoral Directives.

    The first thing to note, of course, is that it applies only to the Diocese of Saskatoon. Is that where you live? If not, then it’s irrelevant to your situation, since as the Catechism states (and Canon 844 as well), it’s up to the local bishop to decide when a situation presents a “grave necessity” such that exceptions to the norms are justified [CCC Section 1401].

    If you do live in Saskatoon, the bishop there allows for reception of communion by non-Catholics on significant life occasions such as baptisms, weddings, funerals, etc. — not ordinary Sundays, not even Christmas and Easter. However, such reception may only occur if the Protestant lacks access to communion from a minister of his own tradition. Further, it may only occur if the Protestant believes what the Catholic Church believes concerning the Eucharist, specifically that it is the actual Body and Blood of Jesus Christ and not a mere symbol (as also required by Canon 844). (See conditions 1 through 5 set forth on pages 6-8 of the Pastoral Notes.)

    Do you believe what the Catholic Church teaches concerning the Eucharist, specifically that it is the actual Body and Blood of Jesus Christ and not merely a symbol of those things? Do you lack access to communion from a minister of your own tradition? (*Are* you a minister of your own tradition? If so, then you can hardly be said to lack access to its communion.)

    If so, and if you live in the Diocese of Saskatoon, then you’re all set: All you have to do is wait for the next major life occasion which is marked by a celebration of mass (at which you “gravely need” to receive communion).

    If you don’t live in Saksatoon, then unless your diocese has its own set of “pastoral guidelines” on the matter, you and your pastor will need to get permission from your local bishop, which according to Canon 844 requires a showing of “grave necessity”, in addition to the conditions set forth above (lack of access to your own ministers and belief in the Catholic doctrines concerning the Eucharist). If your pastor agrees to give you communion, and you receive it, without meeting these requirements, you are in violation of Church law.

    As far as the separation between Protestants and Catholics, I agree with you that “it’s not one-sided”, and I don’t think I said it was. However while the Church may have admitted that there was fault on both sides, what it has *not* said is that it was good and right and correct of the Reformers to refuse submission to the Church’s teachings, and to found separate and rival communions in competition with the Church, rather than work for reform within the Church. Further, the Church has never admitted any doctrinal error on its own part — thus in the Church’s eyes, divisions over doctrinal matters cannot be the fault of the Church.

    But regardless who is to blame on either side, your inability to receive communion at Catholic masses is a direct result of your refusal, like Martin Luther, to submit to the Church’s authority and become Catholic. I would have a lot more sympathy for your plight if it were out of your hands, such that there was nothing you could do about it. But in fact the only obstacle is your own refusal to submit. Submit, receive communion; refuse submission, be denied communion.

    It seems to me you’ve got a three-way conflict: Between your own faith, the faith of your wife, and the teaching and practice of the Church. There are three ways the conflict could be resolved: (1) you accommodate yourself to your wife by becoming Catholic, thus removing the separation between you; (2) your wife accommodates herself to you by becoming Protestant, thus removing the separation between you; (3) have the Church accommodate itself to you and your wife by allowing you to receive communion, thus removing any need for anyone to convert.

    I can’t help it, it just strikes me as presumptuous (I don’t want to say arrogant), that of the three options the only one acceptable to you is the third: You and your wife should stay exactly as you are, while the Church should change. In fact of the three parties involved, the only one towards whom you have expressed any blame for its refusal to change, is the Church. Is no blame due to yourself or your wife?

    It’s the Martin Luther attitude all over again: People should not submit to the Church, rather the Church should bend and adapt to people who don’t want to change themselves. But the Catholic attitude is the opposite: It’s we who submit to the Church, not vice versa — which is why Luther had to go. It’s this highly un-Catholic attitude of yours that makes me, personally, quite alarmed at the prospect of your receiving communion: In reality your attitude is emphatically not in communion with that of the Church.

    • Joel says:

      The directives in Saskatoon DO allow for reception on major feast days such as “Easter, Pentecost, and Christmas” See section 20, here subsection C under “Interchurch marriages.” This is all in consultation with the local pastor, not the bishop.

      I do not live in the Saskatoon diocese, but that does not mean my diocese cannot benefit from the wisdom of another diocese. The dioceses are in communion with one another, are they not? I do hope for a change in my diocese if these directives do not yet exist. Change is possible. For example there was a time when these pastoral considerations did not exist in the Diocese of Saskatoon, and now they do. I hope the same for my Diocese.

      I start with the presumption that “The Church” includes the Roman Catholic Church, but that it is larger than the Roman Catholic Church. Therefore, again from my perspective, it is not accurate to say Protestants left “The Church.” They left communion with a particular manifestation of the church and yet remained “The Church.” This is a matter upon which you and I simply disagree.

      This is what makes me Protestant (and I am okay with that): I believe the Roman Catholic Church is in grave error in the matter of a closed communion table and is outright disobedient of Paul’s exhortation to not permit divisions at the Eucharist (see 1 Cor 11). That is why in my tradition, and when I celebrate communion, I invite all baptized Christians – who have examined their worthiness to do so – to receive. Because the feast does not belong to a particular manifestation of the church (i.e. The Roman Catholic Church alone) but it belongs to the entire Body of Christ (i.e. including those not in communion with Rome).

      A further note on Canon 844.4 – a Protestant minister is not available to administer the sacrament while he or she is in a Catholic mass. Therefore, even though I am a Protestant minister, I am not available to myself to serve myself in the Catholic mass with my wife. So, the condition of “a minister of my own tradition” does not apply.

      The “grave need” which the Diocese of Saskatoon has recognized is the grave need of a husband and wife to feed their sacramental marriage with Eucharistic food. The absence of which I believe starves Christian inter-church marriages.

  6. Agellius says:

    I stand corrected in terms of the major feast days. Regarding consulting the pastor and not the bishop, yes that’s true, in Saskatoon it’s not necessary to consult the bishop since the bishop has already issued guidelines and given permission provided those guidelines are met. But if you don’t live in that diocese, and your diocese has not issued similar guidelines, then you do have to get permission from the bishop of your diocese, per Canon 844.

    You write, “The dioceses are in communion with one another, are they not?”

    The dioceses are in communion with one another to the extent that they are in communion with the bishop of Rome. But the rulings of the bishop of one diocese do not apply to other dioceses, for the simple reason that each bishop has jurisdiction over his own diocese and no other. The bishop of Rome is the obvious exception since his rulings apply to the universal Church — whereas the rulings of the bishop of Saskatoon do not. This is why Canon 844 § 4 says that permission to give communion is left to “the judgement of the diocesan Bishop”, not to the judgment of bishops outside the diocese.

    You write, “I start with the presumption that ‘The Church’ includes the Roman Catholic Church, but that it is larger than the Roman Catholic Church. Therefore, again from my perspective, it is not accurate to say Protestants left ‘The Church.’ . . . This is a matter upon which you and I simply disagree.”

    I agree that we disagree on this. But this is irrelevant to your inability to receive communion in the Catholic Church. You are disallowed from receiving communion (extraordinary circumstances excepted) in the Catholic Church because you consciously and deliberately decline to submit to and fully join the Catholic Church *as it defines itself*. You may disagree with its self-definition but your disagreement has no practical bearing on the issue.

    You write, “A further note on Canon 844.4 – a Protestant minister is not available to administer the sacrament while he or she is in a Catholic mass. Therefore, even though I am a Protestant minister, I am not available to myself to serve myself in the Catholic mass with my wife. So, the condition of ‘a minister of my own tradition’ does not apply.”

    If that were the meaning of the clause then it would have been pointless to include it, since the entire document deals with Protestants receiving communion in the context of a Catholic mass (interfaith Eucaristic services are specifically excluded). Therefore it’s obvious that the meaning of the clause is that you have no other source within a reasonable distance from which you may receive communion in your tradition.

    In fact the explanation given directly underneath condition “2″ makes clear that this is its intent:

    “2. The person with a spiritual need must be unable to have recourse to a minister of his/her own Tradition

    “The Church in Saskatchewan is affected by the declining rural population and reduced services in many areas. Many congregations of various Christian denominations do not have regular worship services and their members have to travel great distances to celebrate the sacraments. In larger centers, transportation hardships may make one unable to participate in one’s own tradition. In many cases the situation is that the spouse belonging to another Christian denomination simply and always accompanies the Catholic partner to Sunday Mass. In these cases, they are unable to access to their own minister.”

    You write, “The ‘grave need’ which the Diocese of Saskatoon has recognized is the grave need of a husband and wife to feed their sacramental marriage with Eucharistic food. The absence of which I believe starves Christian inter-church marriages.”

    If the bishop of Saskatoon meant that mixed marriages are in grave need of feeding with the Eucharist lest they starve (and die?), it strikes me as very odd, indeed cruel, that he would limit the feeding of such marriages to special occasions only.

    In any event, I note that you left my question unanswered: Do you believe what the Catholic Church believes concerning the Eucharist, specifically that it is the actual Body and Blood of Christ and not a symbol?

  7. Agellius says:

    It occurs to me that there is a major logical inconsistency which undermines your position.

    According to the Catholic understanding of the Eucharist (to which you must subscribe before you may receive it licitly), the Eucharist is one and the same throughout the world. If a husband receives it in one place, and his wife in another, both have communed with Christ — totally, really and entirely, not in a merely symbolic manner — and therefore with one another. There is no logical reason why they must receive it in the same building, or within minutes of each other, in order to experience that objective communion with Christ and one another.

    This is the main basis of the unity of the Church throughout the world: Even though I receive communion in the United States, and someone else receives it in Argentina, and someone else in Mongolia, we are all united and nourished in Christ by receiving one and the same Eucharist. True Eucharistic communion is not affected by physical proximity in time and space.

    If you believe communion in your own Protestant church is the same as communion in a Catholic Church, then you have no logical basis whatsoever upon which to assert that you are being prevented from nourishing your marriage by communing with your wife in Christ. If you do believe you are being prevented from nourishing your marriage Eucharistically, then you must believe that the communion offered in your own tradition is *not* the same as that offered in the Catholic tradition.

  8. Agellius says:

    Indeed, you must believe that communion in your own tradition is somehow defective.

    • Joel says:

      You raise a number of questions in your last series of comments, but allow me to answer two of those right now.

      1) An inter-church (not “mixed”) family’s need to commune together is indeed linked to a particular space and time. You would not say a husband and wife had dinner together if one ate at a restaurant and the other ate at home. Shared time and space is absolutely essential to the communion of the domestic church, that is family.

      2) My Eucharistic theology: I believe it is a both/and not an either/or when it comes to transubstantiation versus symbol. The thing itself is also a symbol of itself. For example a hospital is both a place where healing is found and a symbol of that healing. The Eucharistic bread is both the real body and blood of Jesus Christ and at the same time a multi-layered symbol. To flatten it to mean only one thing is to miss the point. It is a memorial of Christ’s death and resurrection, a symbol of our communion with one another, a thanksgiving, and on and on. It is so rich and deep of very real meaning that to force it to only point to the carnal/physical aspect of flesh misses the point entirely of Eucharist.

  9. Agellius says:

    You write, “An inter-church (not “mixed”) family’s need to commune together is indeed linked to a particular space and time. You would not say a husband and wife had dinner together if one ate at a restaurant and the other ate at home. Shared time and space is absolutely essential to the communion of the domestic church, that is family.”

    Regarding your insistence on the term “inter-church (not ‘mixed’) family”: From the Catholic standpoint (which is the pertinent one since your main complaint is being disallowed from receiving Catholic communion), the word “church” may not be properly applied to Protestant “traditions” or “communities”. (See Dominus iesus, ¶ 17, http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20000806_dominus-iesus_en.html ; see also http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070629_responsa-quaestiones_en.html )

    Regarding whether it’s “absolutely essential” for husband and wife to receive communion at the same time and place: It may be be important to *you*, but it is not essential in Catholic Eucharistic theology. Nothing essentially different occurs when husband and wife receive communion in each other’s presence, compared with when they receive it apart from one another.

    As I noted before, “communion” among Catholics follows from the communion of each Catholic with Christ: We are united with each other to the extent we are united with Christ. To say a husband and wife cannot achieve communion with each other outside one another’s presence, is to say that each of them is prevented from communing with Christ outside each other’s presence. This is flatly opposed to Catholic teaching.

    You write, “[The Eucharist] is a memorial of Christ’s death and resurrection, a symbol of our communion with one another, a thanksgiving, and on and on. It is so rich and deep of very real meaning that to force it to only point to the carnal/physical aspect of flesh misses the point entirely of Eucharist.”

    It strikes a Catholic as strange that in listing the various meanings of the Eucharist, you omit the word “sacrifice”. Without subscribing to that aspect of it, you cannot be said to believe what the Catholic Church believes concerning the Eucharist.

    Also I did not “flatten it to mean only one thing”. I mentioned that specific aspect because that was the one specifically mentioned by the Pastoral Directives document as being necessary of belief by anyone desiring to receive communion. Naturally there are other aspects, primary among them that of sacrifice.

  10. Jessica says:

    So sorry to intrude on this conversation. I was not aware of this blog until today, reading one of Joel’s statements on Twitter regarding 8 Concerns about the DOC. I looked at this entry because I was curious about how one can inadvertently be called “evil.”

    I confess I have not studied the roles of the clergy as you obviously have, Agellius, however I am shocked that you don’t seem to realize that when a woman has an abortion it affects not only herself, but those who love her. Now I am not trying to argue whether or not abortion is evil. I am not trying to say that in certain cases it is right even, but you did ask “by the way, what does it mean to be ‘affected by abortion’?” I found that comment to be very ignorant.

    Let us say my (non-existent) younger sister is married and is advised by a doctor that she should have an abortion because the quality of the child’s life will be compromised due to her former drug use. My sister complies with the doctor’s suggestion, and I am the one to drive her to and from the clinic because her husband cannot bear to do it. I am the one who witnesses her fear, fumbles with her questions and doubts, holds her hand as she stands in line, hugs her tightly when she comes back through the door sobbing.

    No, she is not the only one “affected by abortion.” I assure you, watching the pain that she went through because she thought she was doing the right thing is excruciating. And what of her husband? He couldn’t even take her himself because he was so distraught. Has he not been affected? (And this scenario is not one to say “She was a sinner.” We all are, or we would not have needed to be saved.)

    The story is the same whether the woman is married or not, was told to abort by a doctor, or does it because she can’t afford to have a child. The act affects everyone around her because they care about this person.

    Yes, I know people who have procured abortions, I also know people who wanted abortions but were told they could not have them because of this reason or that. It is unbearable to hear discussions regarding the right to life or choice based on my experiences with others. No doubt that the destruction of a child in any stage is a terrible event, but for those of us who have experienced an abortion second-hand, I can honestly say that the last thing we want to hear is condemnation of someone we love…especially when it appears to be out of context. Personally I avoid the discussion whenever possible, and am given to tears when I cannot escape. I only respond to this because you, Agellius, appear ignorant and unsympathetic regarding Joel’s comment.

    I realize that your point was “condemn the sin, love the sinner.” How easy is it to feel love when you feel that you have been singled out?

    Back to the subject of the priest “calling Protestants evil,” I believe if the priest had really intended to do so, he would not have been taken aback by your comment, Joel. Would he not have defended his point? I do not believe that he realized the affect his homily would have on non-parishioners. Truly, I think he believed that anyone who was attending mass that day at that time was a member, and no one else had any business being there. You certainly handled the situation well; you opened his eyes to the possibility that he might be preaching to more than “the regulars” so to speak. Chalk it up as you schooling a visiting priest! :)

    • Joel says:

      You are certainly welcome here Jessica. Than you for your contributions to the discussion; challenging us to understand the many dynamics of abortion and its effect.

      I really didn’t mean to go down that road in the discussion on this blog, I included it only to give better context to priest’s homily. My main point was that he was preaching outside the scope of the scripture for the day (it had nothing to do with abortion).

      You are right, I do not believe there was any malice intended by the priest’s words. It was simple poor word choice. I hope God used me that day to help assert the Christian-ness of Protestants. He was gracious and received it well, and certainly apologized on the spot.

  11. Jessica says:

    **sheepish** Well, my point wasn’t really to make you understand about abortions. Rather, I have always thought of the clergy in more of a counseling role than a teaching role: being sensitive rather than judgmental. Perhaps this is due to my DOC upbringing…so when I noticed that Agellius wasn’t taking into account how others may feel, well I was a little shocked. The best way that I could think to explain my point was through a hypothetical story, so I apologize if it seems like I was hung up on the topic of abortion.

    I believe you are a fine representative of us Protestants. I look forward to your future as a man of the cloth, whether you stick with the DOC or not. :)

  12. Agellius says:

    I realize this is not a subject Joel wants to pursue in depth, but since Jessica raised certain questions, and in particular called me ignorant, I hope I might just answer her and then we can drop the subject. Or we could continue by e-mail if desired.

    Jessica, all I did was ask Joel what he meant by “affected by abortion”. I wasn’t sure if he meant someone who had an abortion herself, or just someone who knew someone who had one. (Which, actually, he never did answer.)

    I agree with you that killing an unborn baby is a terrible thing. But if you are saying we should never condemn sin because it will hurt the feelings of the sinner, I must disagree. The guilt that results from committing sin is one of the strongest incentives to avoid sin.

    I have been guilty of various kinds of sin myself, but I do not get upset when I hear priests or others condemning the sins I have committed. I am glad such sins are being condemned, because I don’t want others to fall into the same sins that I fell into. If you know that a road leads to a deep pit filled with snakes, obviously you want to warn others not to travel down that road, and you want to make clear how horrible and dangerous the pit is. You can’t warn people to avoid sin without telling them how bad it is.

  13. Jessica says:


    No we won’t drag this on.

    I didn’t find your statement itself clear apparently. I felt you focused more on assuming that he was talking about the actual sinner being offended by the homily. (ie your bank robber analogy and the similar continued references)

    I did not straight out call you ignorant, because I know that is not the case. If I have offended you, I apologize, but realizing that I am new to this blog, your phrasing was very unclear. I stated that your comment was ignorant, which it appeared to be since I did not know your intentions.

    No, I am not saying that sins should not be condemned. No one wants to hear that they’ve sinned. It may be necessary, but there’s a time and a place for certain things, and Joel feels that this wasn’t the time. That’s what I was getting at.

  14. Agellius says:


    No offense taken, thanks. I will just say that IMHO, if a sermon at mass is not the time to condemn sin, I don’t know what is.

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