Today’s post explores why it is not permissible to give an unbaptized person Communion. Or one who does not believe what Catholics believe about the Eucharist:
38. Ecclesial communion, as I have said, is likewise visible, and finds expression in the series of “bonds” listed by the Council when it teaches: “They are fully incorporated into the society of the Church who, possessing the Spirit of Christ, accept her whole structure and all the means of salvation established within her, and within her visible framework are united to Christ, who governs her through the Supreme Pontiff and the Bishops, by the bonds of profession of faith, the sacraments, ecclesiastical government and communion”.(Lumen Gentium 14)
The Eucharist, as the supreme sacramental manifestation of communion in the Church, demands to be celebrated in a context where the outward bonds of communion are also intact. In a special way, since the Eucharist is “as it were the summit of the spiritual life and the goal of all the sacraments”, (Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, III, q. 73, a. 3c.) it requires that the bonds of communion in the sacraments, particularly in Baptism and in priestly Orders, be real. It is not possible to give communion to a person who is not baptized or to one who rejects the full truth of the faith regarding the Eucharistic mystery. Christ is the truth and he bears witness to the truth (cf. Jn 14:6; 18:37); the sacrament of his body and blood does not permit duplicity.
I have known people who just didn’t know. My own First Communion was such a time. “Duplicity” is too narrow a description for a broad range of possible circumstances. That said, I’m still not convinced there’s ever a need for an unbaptized person to be given the Eucharist. If it’s a matter of faith found at the moment, there’s always the possibility of baptizing then and there, just as we read in Acts.