Monday, August 11, 2008

The Pope and Communion for Children

It has been suggested someplace that the Pope's recent counsel concerning admission of children to Holy Communion betrays a doctrinal wobbliness that is inconsistent with the Church's claims to dogmatic certainty:
Why does someone need a Pope for simply good advice?
But I am still surprised that a consensus of certainty still hasn't been obtained after 2000 years. Especially, as I said, since the sacramental economy is the cornerstone of RC salvation.

Once again those who pretend to understand the Church demonstrate that they really don't.

Admission to Communion is not a question of dogma. It is a question of practice. Because it is a question of practice, it is a question of prudence - of right reason applied to action. And the Church has regulated this prudence in Canon Law. And anyone who bothers to look will see that what the Pope has said is consistent with Canon Law. See canons 912-914:
Can. 912 Any baptized person not prohibited by law can and must be admitted to holy communion.

Can. 913 §1. The administration of the Most Holy Eucharist to children requires that they have sufficient knowledge and careful preparation so that they understand the mystery of Christ according to their capacity and are able to receive the body of Christ with faith and devotion.

§2. The Most Holy Eucharist, however, can be administered to children in danger of death if they can distinguish the body of Christ from ordinary food and receive communion reverently.

Can. 914 It is primarily the duty of parents and those who take the place of parents, as well as the duty of pastors, to take care that children who have reached the use of reason are prepared properly and, after they have made sacramental confession, are refreshed with this divine food as soon as possible. It is for the pastor to exercise vigilance so that children who have not attained the use of reason or whom he judges are not sufficiently disposed do not approach holy communion.
So we see that there is no rigid standard here, but rather that it is a standard informed by a large measure of prudential judgment - which is precisely what the Holy Father was offering.

Why should we take such uninformed criticisms seriously? If the critic is so flippant as to not even bother to investigate before lobbing the latest grenade, does he deserve a serious response? Probably not. But now I've given one, so it's too late :-)


Anonymous said...

Silly Catholic. Don't you know there's only one answer to each question? One size fits all you know. Now if you and I were only as rock solid in our sola scriptura as our Protestant friends then we would know exactly what to do in these situations.

Split into separate denominations.


Reginald de Piperno said...


That was funny, but perhaps you didn't know that there are Protestants who think that you can get *all* the information you need for childrearing out of the Bible. Not just general principles, mind you - of course those are there. But really specific stuff.

My Protestant pastor was cut from different cloth, fortunately: he said that we're all just "faking it" :-)

Unfortunately that's not good enough for certain breeds of fundamentalist.