Monday, March 31, 2008

Holy Communion by Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz



Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop's Residence, 2400 Dagupan City


"Do not give what is holy to dogs, neither throw your pearls in front of pigs." (Matthew 7:6). Painful words. Strong injunction. But understandable admonition. Realistic situation. This is why in principle, the combined conclusion of moral and sacramental theology of solid and long standings is that Holy Communion may not be given to public sinners.

Thus, as consistently taught by the Catholic Church pursuant to the binding articles of Faith she professes and the standing norms of morals she adheres to, Holy Communion affirms and adheres to the following truths: First, it means nothing less than receiving the Most Sacred Body and Blood of Christ Himself. Second, the recipient wherefore cannot but be in the state of sanctifying grace to worthily have Holy Communion. Third, someone therefore in the publicly known state of grave or mortal sins—such as precisely public sinners—should not be given Holy Communion lest the he or she becomes even a bigger sinner by the offense of downright sacrilege.

It is the responsibility and accountability of the Minister of Holy Communion to decide whom to give Holy Communion due to presumption of the worthiness of the recipient, and whom to deny it on account of sound conviction of unworthiness by reason of publicly known serious objective moral offenses—particularly those with wide and intensive adverse social impacts. When the Minister gives Holy Communion to anybody who does not have the strong presumption of worthiness akin to moral certitude—a triple sacrilege is committed, viz., one, the profanation of the Most Sacred Body and Blood of Christ; two, the desecration of the Ministry of Holy Eucharist, and three, the blasphemy by the recipient.

This is why as a matter of doctrinal principle and moral norm, someone known to the public as reasonably perceived or actually known guilty not simply of one, neither only three nor merely five but more grave or mortal sins of such as gross stealing, flagrant graft and corrupt practices, and other glaring big moral misdeeds with extensive and intensive adverse effects to society, fits the reality of a public sinner. To conclude otherwise, i.e., that the person concerned is holy or saintly, is not only irrational but also futile. And to give the Most Sacred Body and Blood of Christ to the same, is not simply highly offensive to the sensitivity of the simple Christian faithful in general but also—and primarily so—means a big contempt of inherent divinity and intrinsic sanctity of Christ Himself. That is why giving Holy Communion in public to a public sinner is a public scandal.


Jego said...

If I remember my Religion classes in Catholic school, I see nothing wrong with what the bishop wrote from a Catholic point of view. Our Religion teachers told us that it is wrong to go to communion with sin still in you. Therefore we were encouraged to go to confession first. It would therefore be wrong for a priest to give communion to a public sinner without first counseling him or her to seek the sacrament of Penance first.

blackshama said...

I was not raised as a Catholic but decided to be received into the Catholic Church at age 21. I agree 100% with Jego. My only Religion "class" is when the Bishop who received me asked me to seriously study the Catechism of the Catholic Church book approved by Pope JP II. I have taken the lessons at heart.

Holy Communion can only be given to a person in a state of grace. In the person who receives it is not in that state then that is like watering a dead plant!

Catholic moral theology teaches that ALL SIN whether private or public affects the whole people of God(it has a social dimension). That's why confession is primarily a way of reparation to the whole Church not to the priest even if today the norm for confession is privately to the priest. Only validly ordained ministers can pronounce absolution which comes from Christ.

Things become dicey when the priest is asked to give communion to public personalities. If the priest in his prudent judgement has personal knowledge that the person has indeed committed a mortal sin, then he may not give communion.

This is the same reason why Protestants and other non-Catholics cannot receive communion in a Catholic Church. Separation from the Catholic Church is a grievous sin in itself although cradle Protestants may not be personally guilty of that sin.

But most Protestants are not in the same league of public sinning as politicians and celebrities. Now if a priest has actual knowledge of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's mortal sins then he should deny her Communion. As Head of State her actions have a higher moral price. Not only she is accountable to her church but to the Filipino nation. Her reparation is to the nation and not to the church alone.

Bishops and priests have to a have a higher standard in determining Gloria's spiritual state. Her confessor is the only one to know that presuming she goes to confession.

If a priest denies communion to a person in a state of grace, then that priest has committed a grievous sin.

Nonetheless it would be easier to deny communion to Manny Pacquiao or to Erap Estrada.

Unfortunately none of our bishops have to moral spittle to deny communion to any public sinner.

Bishop Oscar Cruz words mean much but actions mean more!

DJB Rizalist said...

If there is anything the Bishops are doing wrong, it is that they are not using Religion enough!

They've lost their true and natural voice by "going down to" the level of politics and the "real world."

They need to rekindle the magic power of morality, but they cannot do it at the level of Philippine Daily Innuendo or ABSCBN News.

What OVC is doing is genuine, in my mind, going by his record on the jueteng crusade. He is less "left ideological" than the other rad bishops too, which makes him less suspicious, agenda-wise.

But yes, they need to quote Matthew Mark Luke and John (and Nahum and Habbakuk too!) a lot more than say...Alan Peter Cayetano!

Equalizer said...

Gloria has cleverly bought her (political) salvation from the C.B.C.P. (a.k.a. Catholic Bishops & Cardinals for the Pidals) through PCSO/PAGCOR "donations" to the bishops' "pro-poor" programs.

blackshama said...

I would like to see one Pinoy bishop deny Holy Communion to any politician who has committed a grave sin.

This should be made when the blurbs are taking photos.

I would like to see a bishop finger wagging at Gloria Macapagal Arroyo like what John Paul II did to Father Ernesto Cardenal on the tarmac at Managua.

That would be so iconic and could signify that the Catholic Church in this country is not beholden to the State.This can signify the real separation of Church and State.

But I said NONE OF THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS IN THE PHILIPPINES have the same moral courage as John Paul II or evern Benedict XVI.

DJB Rizalist said...

OVC may be Cardinal Sin's successor. But it depends on how serious he is about morality. Sin was a politician.
We can't all be political bloggers and scientists and pundit only.
We need a prophet. We needc a Judge, who will see things the old way.

But such a person, cannot have his cake and eat it too. He must take the role and ride the tiger's back. No getting off and being uhmm schizophrenic.

such a person must not care what then happens to GMA or any particular ruler.

He must care more about "Holy communion" and the Church itself.

Otherwise, if the church does politics a la sin, it will indeed lead to to their being used for a fascist renaissance here.

ricelander said...

I have a distant relative who works in government. How loudly they laugh about their corrupt ways when they meet on occasions. She goes to church religiously. She's a Catholic. I've seen so many of such attributes.

DJB Rizalist said...

if you look at the Catholic faithful, they are a pitiful lot. the church is largely devoid of any true moral sense or compass. i think what i really appreciate about OVC is a plain and honest return to "that ole time Religion".

Nuthin' wrong with that! The Pinoy faithful need it now since democratic institutions are failing or falling left and right. The supreme court has done something that pushes even bloggers like me to the edge of my forebearance.

There is a limit to that, even among the men of Peace, as I want to believe that I am. But its twin brother, War, is to ever to me, a coordinate tool of Justice!

Inasmuch as the Court's actions are pure memes, mere words, we will go to war less as a conscious choice than a moral and intellectual compulsion.

Anonymous said...

Reception of the Holy Eucharist while in a state of mortal sin is a sacrilege. It further adds to the list of mortal sins.
What Bishop Cruz said is theologically sound.

domingoarong said...

Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz defines a “public sinner” as “someone known to the public as reasonably perceived or actually known guilty not simply of one, neither only three nor merely five but more grave or mortal sins of such as gross stealing, flagrant graft and corrupt practices, and other glaring big moral misdeeds with extensive and intensive adverse effects to society.”

But who is this “public” who “reasonably perceives” that there is this “someone” who already “fits the reality of a public sinner”?

For if Archbishop Cruz were the confessor of this “public sinner,” his denial of the Sacrament of Holy Communion would no doubt betray the gravity of what the penitent disclosed to him in confidence while availing of the Sacrament of Confession.

So, absent any public confession, is there a need for the Christian to first summon to trial this “someone” who is “known to be guilty” by this “public” and to be judged as a “public sinner” by a tribunal competent to determine guilt?

Even Jesus of Nazareth, condemned to be crucified, was at least tried first before an ecclesiastical (Annas and Caiphas of the Sanhedrin) and then before a civil tribunal (Pilate and Herod).

In fact, since “God must summon Adam to judgment, then logic inexorably dictated that every defendant must be summoned to trial.”

“Innocent Until Proven Guilty: The Origins of a Legal Maxim” (2001) is the title of this timely and relevant article written by Kenneth Pennington (Kelly-Quinn Professor of Ecclesiastical and Legal History, The Columbus School of Law and The School of Religious Studies, The Catholic University of America and current President of the Society for Medieval Canon Law), and to quote the pertinent portion:

“This then is the ultimate irony of the story: rather than a sturdy Anglo-Saxon, a cardinal of the Roman church, a Frenchman, a canonist, Johannes Monachus was the first European jurist to recognize the inexorable logic of God's judgment of Adam: God could not condemn Adam without a trial because even God must presume that Adam was innocent until proven guilty. Other canonists played with the idea of defendants’ rights. They coined a proverb that God must even give the devil his day in court. Johannes' commentary on Rem non novam eventually became the Ordinary Gloss of a late medieval collection of canon law known as the Extravagantes communes. This collection and its gloss circulated in hundreds of manuscripts and scores of printed editions until the seventeenth century. So — the answer to our question, who first uttered the principle, Innocent until proven guilty — a perfect question for the legal edition of Trivial Pursuit — is the French canonist Johannes Monachus. Since his gloss was read by the jurists of the Ius commune to the time of Cesare Beccaria, it was a primary vehicle for transmitting the principle to later generations of jurists.

“Roman law, canon law, the Ius commune: from these sources spring that great Anglo-Saxon principle: A person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.”

Having only recently renewed last Good Saturday my baptismal vows as a Roman Catholic for 65 years now, who do I believe: Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz or Cardinal Johannes Monachus (d. 1313)?

blackshama said...


If Archbishop Cruz was the confessor of the public sinner and he has personal knowledge of the sin through the confessional and he pronounced absolution, then he can't deny him/her the Eucharist.

As for the "public" you ask, this is nothing but all baptized members of the Church.

In the Catholic tradition the priest has the power to set free (absolve) from sin. Being alter Christus, he can judge a person's spiritual state presuming he has enough knowledge about it.

This answers your question of who or what the tribunal is.

That's why we can't question the power of the Archbishop to deny the sacraments to anyone who is in a state of grievous sin.

DJB Rizalist said...


Thank you for a thoughtful and I believe sincere comment. Welcome to PHilippine Commentary.

Regarding the Catholic Church, I personally do not recognize any claims it might make over the Law, because I am forced by loyalty to the Philippine Constitution to defend freedom of religion, which I do not think has very much to do with a very technical thing called "the Public's Right to Know".

This latter is what I consider the information that falls into the public domain as a result of Court cases being decided, laws being passed, and other official govt issuances.

The Catholic Church and its internal laws and theology have nothing to do with this Public Right to Know, no matter what Monachus avers, because so much of what it teaches CANNOT reasonably be considered TRUE by those who are not Catholics. Take Holy Communion for example and the dead serious claims that Catholics make for it.

We cannot impose things like "a person is innocent until proven guilty" upon the Catholic Church and its ministers, otherwise what right do they have to call contraception a "sin", "a crime against humanity" etc.

Yet I will defend their right to believe such things with my own life.

To force Catholic archbishops to take on the ethics of justices in the courts of law would violate the principle of separation of church and state.

Within the NGO called the Catholic Church, they can do whatever they want that does not by itself transgress on the rights of their members not explicitly surrendered by them.

I am sure OVC will get it from his confreres, but then I have a separate opinion about them.

I like him speaking to the flock as an archbishop more than as some petty politician. He should do more of it,.

Brian Brotarlo said...

"But such a person, cannot have his cake and eat it too. He must take the role and ride the tiger's back. No getting off and being uhmm schizophrenic.

such a person must not care what then happens to GMA or any particular ruler."


The church is suffering from the "maternal conceit" that they can take care of everyone by manipulating everything. My mother sure does a lot of manipulation while raising me, including telling me "white lies," a lot of white lies. This is happening to the church. They want to make peace with everyone and everyone making peace to everyone. They make all sorts of compromises thinking in the end they will have everything under control.

Amadeo said...

I suppose I would first need elucidation as to who are those public personages with their very public sins that gave the bishop cause to issue this proclamation regarding the reception of Holy Communion, which proclamation is based on what Catholics are taught about the sanctity of this sacrament.

But one can easily imagine the possible catastrophic disaster this can lead to if the Church hierarchy decides to implement this stricture to the letter and indiscriminately based on its own judgment, in strict compliance with its churchly duties.

Take the specific case of legal abortion here in the US. Most, if not all, Democrats favor it, publicly declare it, and actively participated in making it legal. Thus the Church has a specific target of public Catholics and with very public sins. Does it take action?

US Presidential candidates when asked to take stands on religious issues against their faith will justify that yes, the laws will be followed regardless of their faith’s stand on them because religion has no place in government. Now, isn’t that much like Pontius Pilate washing his hands?

For me personally, for both Churchman and devotee, I would still cling to the idea that the best path is to find out what Christ would do if confronted with that situation. And this we know enough, that he would be more subdued and circumspect in dealing with thorny issues like this, and less judgmental or holier than thou.

Jego said...

And this we know enough, that [Jesus] would be more subdued and circumspect in dealing with thorny issues like this, and less judgmental or holier than thou.

OR... he would mince no words and be true to his nature. He has the credentials to do so. Notice that when he confronted the Pharisees, he did so publicly, calling them out in public -- "You brood of vipers!," he said. In public. Not the words of someone subdued and circumspect. The bishops has to call them as they see them. And he has the authority to refuse the sacrament to those unnamed public sinners and counsel them to seek Penance first. Gently perhaps, and with love.

(For the record, Im not Catholic.)

Amadeo said...

To put in present context, the Pharisees and Sadducees could be categorized more appropriately as part of Church hierarchy rather than as your ordinary Catholic believer. Thus, more on the same category as the bishop who issued the proclamation. And since Christ found them misleading people with their errant doctrines and practices and of course, their hypocrisy, understandably Christ was quite harsh in his judgment, with scandal being considered very abominable for Him.

But with ordinary sinners and believers, we find Christ in the Gospels to definitely be more tolerant and circumspect, and forgiving. Like a Mary Magdalene? Or the Samaritan woman?

Now, should Christ find the actions and proclamations of His bishops or the rest of His clergy to be worthy of censure, then the likelihood will be that He will be harsh and straightforward in his anger and condemnation. Like maybe their hypocrisy, too many cases of pedophile priests, or Cardinals living high on the hog funded by precious contributions of the faithful?

Jego said...

To put in present context, the Pharisees and Sadducees could be categorized more appropriately as part of Church hierarchy rather than as your ordinary Catholic believer.

I look at it this way: The Pharisees and the Sadducees, being the dominant parties in the Sanhedrin, could be categorized more appropriately as politicians, public figures whose views and policies affect the people. The Sanhedrin was the legislature and the judiciary at that time. Bishop Cruz's pronouncements would be appropos therefore. (But he did fall short of calling them a brood of vipers. After all, he isnt the Lord.)

DJB Rizalist said...

a brood of vipers? boy that's got a nice ring to it...must work that into a post title one of these days, thanks!