Intercommunion Aftermath

The Anchoress muses on the incident of a Presbyterian minister taking a leadership role with a priest at a Catholic Mass.

I think Ms Scalia sidesteps the real matter: union with Rome. She and some of her commenters wonder about the state of grace of Rev Steve Whitney, or assume because he is a non-Catholic, he does not share our understanding of the Eucharist. Clearly, many self-styled orthodox Catholics need a deeper understanding of the real problems of ecumenism.

The offending priest has been suspended from duty, has issued an apology, and it seems a few Catholics believe enough is enough:

Some of us in the Catholic community may have the desire to metaphorically pump our fists, maybe a few will even have the urge to do this literally. While I’m pleased Bishop Brown took swift and decisive action to correct this situation, I have a heavy heart. Fr. Agustin made a terrible mistake, but I do not believe he is a terrible person or a terrible priest. He needs our prayers, our understanding, and most importantly he needs our forgiveness.

Some Catholics are still looking for a scalp on this. For them, the notion of scandal doesn’t really apply. It’s more about finding something to get angry about, churn up the bile, and round up a lynch mob.

Christians do important things aside from Sunday worship. I’m not sure why more churches don’t do more in areas outside of worship. At our parish, one of our students frequently organizes dialogue meetings: Catholic/Lutheran, Catholic/Mormon, Catholic/Muslim, etc.. He’s worked harder for ecumenism and understanding than anyone I know, including the pope. More Christians could be doing more along these lines. That would be a better avenue for Fr Escobar to explore with his colleague: dialogue, service, non-sacramental prayer, and study. We all realize that intercommunion is beyond most all of us at this time. We should be appropriately sorry for that, pray for its resolution, and cultivate a proper and public contrition. Then labor in the areas we can work in.

A good thing Bishop Brown can do is put the priest in charge of ecumenical affairs in his diocese. Tell him to study up on ecclesiology, too.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in ecumenism. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Intercommunion Aftermath

  1. FrMichael says:

    “A good thing Bishop Brown can do is put the priest in charge of ecumenical affairs in his diocese. Tell him to study up on ecclesiology, too.”

    The worst thing Bishop Brown could do (besides not disciplining the priest) is putting this priest in charge of ecumenical affairs. His ignorance or disregard for ecclesiology and sacramental theology isn’t something that should be corrected by on-the-job training. Hopefully Fr. Escobar’s suspension will be filled with some theological instruction, and then heart-filled acceptance, in those areas where he has proved weak.

  2. Todd says:

    Clearly, the man’s passion overran his seminary training. But I can think of few better consequences for his error than to put him to work repairing Christian divisions. A good lay theologian can keep him on the straight and narrow. I say let him make amends in a constructive way, not limited to shoring up his rational side.

  3. FrMichael says:

    Todd, I don’t think you realize the gravity of the situation.

    This priest committed a public mortal sin at Mass, and then told off concerned parishioners afterwards to compound the original sin and the original scandal.

    This isn’t a matter of “the man’s passions overran his seminary training.” This is a matter of this priest willfully and with full knowledge desecrating the Most Holy Eucharist as well as publicly dissenting from the dogmatic teaching on Holy Orders. And he made matters even worse by using the Mass as his vehicle.

  4. Todd says:

    “This priest committed a public mortal sin at Mass …”

    I don’t see that. He committed a significant breach of liturgical protocol, plus he seems to have had a severe intellectual ignorance about it. For this to be a mortal sin, he would have had a particular malicious intent. Maybe it’s there. But I didn’t see it in his statement of contrition. He didn’t know enough about ecclesiology to have committed any of the crimes you’ve listed.

    I find it particularly helpful to give contrite people a chance to do something right, rather than attempt a more self-satisfactory course like banishment, spanking, etc.. This priest, especially if he’s put in charge of ecumenism, will toe the line very, very carefully.

  5. Jimmy Mac says:

    I think he should be defrocked, his head shaven, put in stocks for 30 days, and then spend the rest of his life cleaning house for Mother Angelica!

  6. FrMichael says:

    Todd, unless this priest lacked theological education to an extent I have never observed in the priesthood– and I have met plenty of knuckleheads– this is a manifest grave sin. The elements for mortal sin:

    Grave matter: obvious, but will be enumerated below.

    Full consent: Fr. Escobar waited until his pastor was out of town and then brought in the Presbyterian minister from 400 miles away. This was hardly a spur-of-the-moment decision.

    Full knowledge: Once again, is it possible that a priest could be completely ignorant of the severe Church sanctions against, in no particular order–

    1) giving Communion to a non-Catholic in a situation far from those limited ones in which Protestants can receive Communion.

    2) giving Communion to a Christian in a denomination that does not share Catholic belief in the True, Real, and Substantial Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.

    3) “Concelebrating” a Eucharist with a minister from a denomination that denies the existence of a sacrament of Orders and the Catholic understanding of Apostolic Succession.

    3) violating the Dallas sexual abuse protocol requiring that all clerics present letters of suitability from their Ordinary prior to ministering outside their diocese. Unless you somehow think that Bishop Soto, the Bishop of Sacramento, decided to write such a letter for a Protestant minister.

    4) not verifying the minister’s celebret– which he wouldn’t have, given his non-Catholic and lay status.

    5) castigating his parishioners who brought the grave misconduct to his attention.

    6) allowing the Presbyterian minister (a layman) to simulate the performance of a sacrament by “concelebrating” a Mass.

    I’m sure more crackerjack canonists could dig up a few more, but any of these would call for the priest’s suspension. That he was invincibly ignorant on all of them beggers belief.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s