It’s even more interesting that the priest offered Anointing of the Sick instead of the Eucharist. Grandmother Irma Castro is also behind the times:
That is the anointing they give you before death. That was very offensive.
An accurate knowledge of sacramental theology isn’t a prerequisite for being a good Catholic. Or even being ordained, it would seem.
Still, it’s a tough situation.
Anointing of the Sick would have been called for when the lad was an infant. Like baptism, the faith of the parents is sufficient for requesting the grace of Christ through the sacraments. If he was in any danger of death, then not only baptism, but confirmation and Eucharist should have been a serious consideration.
The Orthodox, like Catholics, have entirely valid sacraments, and they distribute Communion to infants.
The US Bishops weighed in on this issue sixteen years ago; clergy do not interpret canon law on their own initiative, but consult widely to make a proper discernment:
(T)he criterion for reception of holy communion is the same for persons with developmental and mental disabilities as for all persons, namely, that the person be able to distinguish the Body of Christ from ordinary food, even if this recognition is evidenced through manner, gesture, or reverential silence rather than verbally. Pastors are encouraged to consult with parents, those who take the place of parents, diocesan personnel involved with disability issues, psychologists, religious educators, and other experts in making their judgment. If it is determined that a parishioner who is disabled is not ready to receive the sacrament, great care is to be taken in explaining the reasons for this decision. Cases of doubt should be resolved in favor of the right of the baptized person to receive the sacrament. The existence of a disability is not considered in and of itself as disqualifying a person from receiving the eucharist.
The Catholic blogozone doesn’t seem to be quite sure where to land on this one. Their biggest guru says no and dithers when he’s confronted with what the bishops say. People type, “I guess the priest must be right,” but the subtitle hangs with it, unwritten: but darned if I know why.
Any thoughts? Any actual experiences?