Can A Priest Refuse Communion?

Dear Father Bloom,

What guidelines do priests observe in restricting receipt of the Eucharist to communicants? Our pastor here has said, "As a priest, I cannot refuse to give Holy Communion to anyone." If he means that priests don't judge the conscience of communicants as the approach the priest, then I understand. But surely if the priest KNEW with certainty that a communicant approaching him was a Satanic High Priest, divorced and living with his new 'trophy' girlfriend, etc., wouldn't that make a difference?

Anyhow, if you have a spare moment, I would welcome your thoughts. Thanks for the work you put into your website. It's terrific!

Warmest regards,

LTC John Ciesla
Fort Lewis


Dear John,

It would be an act of charity to warn someone who is living in objective sin not to receive communion. As St. Paul says they are bringing condemnation upon themselves by "profaning the body and blood of the Lord." (I Cor 11:27) And in the case you give, there is the matter of public scandal. The question I've asked my priest friends is, "What would you do if someone got in line with an Aryan Nation emblem on his shirt?" Assuming you and others in the congregation, including Filipinos, Hispanics, etc. knew just who he was.

Having said that, I do admit the only time I've actually stopped someone was a drunk who wanted to go to communion. I gave him a little blessing and asked the ushers to escort him to a less public zone. Even those who are divorced and remarried, I have chosen to deal with in a less embarrassing way by mentioning something very general in a sermon or bulletin announcement. And there are divorced & remarried who are living as brother-sister and who have a priest's permission to receive communion, so those cases are not always clear cut.

God bless,

Fr. Phil Bloom


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