The Communion Controversy Continues and the Passing of a Giant

Some mornings are like that. You know, you get up. You say some prayers. Kiss the wife. Do a little execrise and get your bowl of cereal. Then you discover a treasury of early morning reading, either in the newspaper delivered to your door, or, increasingly more likely, online.

This morning there is a superb essay, by my old friend Ed Peters, on who should and who shouldn’t be given Holy Communion. It’s a topic Dr Peters has been writing on for some time. In a First Things essay he lays out, yet again, the distinction between canons 915 and 916, confusion about which seems both hard to understand and yet often overwhelmingly thick. Like the now-regular October surprises, discussion of denying Holy Communion to Catholic politicians who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin has become a standard feature of our fall, election-year conversation.

As Dr Peters points out, we have to distinguish between the obligation of the individual Catholic not to approach the Sacrament if he is conscious of unconfessed graved sin (canon 916) and the obligation of the minister of Holy Communion to withhold the Sacrament when the would-be recipient is one who obstinately persists in manifest grave sin (canon 915). And, as Dr Peters also points out, canon 916 is not an optional, pastoral suggestion.

On top of Dr Peters’ article, there are several stories about the passing of Jacques Barzun, a profoundly important philosopher of education and culture. If there are many more thinkers like Barzun out there, they certainly aren’t as visible as he was. Here is the New York Times obit. Here is the Washington Post obit. Max Weismann of the Center for the Study of the Great Ideas has this appreciation by the late Mortimer Adler. Meanwhile First Things has another Barzun appreciation.

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About Mark Brumley 66 Articles
Mark Brumley is president and CEO of Ignatius Press.