If someone is banned from receiving the sacraments through interdict or excommunication but does so anyway (perhaps they go to a different parish where their status is not known) does the sacrament still take effect? Specifically, if someone is barred from receiving the Eucharist, does transubstantiation still occur?

It's my understanding (and agreed with in this question) that the transubstantiation occurs when the priest says the words of instantiation – that is, before they are received by the potential excommunicatee.

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    Transubstantiation is independent of what happens to the Blessed Sacrament afterward. Even if It is received by someone who ought not to receive It, because of excommunication or unconfessed mortal sin or any other reason, It is still Jesus Christ. Christ's willingness to accept the risk of such sacrilege is one aspect of His humility and His effort to do everything possible for our salvation. Mar 25, 2016 at 23:26
  • The Eucharist is received, not taken, in Catholic practice. I edited your title to reflect that. Oct 17, 2016 at 13:17

2 Answers 2


The Bible itself implies that the occurrence of the act of transubstantion is independent of the worthiness of the recipient.

In 1 Cor. 11:27, it is written,

27 Wherefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.

ΚΖʹ ὥστε ὃς ἂν ἐσθίῃ τὸν ἄρτον ἢ πίνῃ τὸ ποτήριον τοῦ κυρίου ἀναξίως ἔνοχος ἔσται τοῦ σώματος καὶ τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ κυρίου NA28

If a man was unworthy, then why would he be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord if transubstantiation did not occur on account of his unworthiness? Yet, he is guilty for the very fact that what he consumed and drank was the very body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ despite unworthily receiving it.

Furthermore, if he only consumed mere bread and wine, why would he be guilty of anything? Unworthy individuals eat bread and drink wine all the time, e.g. unbelieving Jews. Did the apostle Paul really intend to say that all unbelieving Jews are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord for eating bread and drinking wine on, say, the Sabbath? I hardly think that was his point. He was directing his comments to those that participated in the Lord's Supper/Eucharist/Communion because that bread and that wine that is received during the Eucharist becomes the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, unlike common bread and wine that is received by others, elsewhere.


The heresy called Donatism said that the validity of a consecration is dependent upon the priest's holiness. This is not the Catholic view. Even excommunicated and schismatic priests (assuming they were validly ordained priests in the first place) can validly consecrate (perform transubstantiation).

St. Thomas Aquinas answers the question "Whether heretics, schismatics, and excommunicated persons can consecrate?" (Summa Theologica III q. 82 a. 7 c.), saying:

Some have contended that heretics, schismatics, and the excommunicate, who are outside the pale of the Church, cannot perform this sacrament. But herein they are deceived, because, as Augustine says (Contra Parmen. ii), "it is one thing to lack something utterly, and another to have it improperly"; and in like fashion, "it is one thing not to bestow, and quite another to bestow, but not rightly." Accordingly, such as, being within the Church, received the power of consecrating the Eucharist through being ordained to the priesthood, have such power rightly indeed; but they use it improperly if afterwards they be separated from the Church by heresy, schism, or excommunication. But such as are ordained while separated from the Church, have neither the power rightly, nor do they use it rightly. But that in both cases they have the power, is clear from what Augustine says (Contra Parmen. ii), that when they return to the unity of the Church, they are not re-ordained, but are received in their orders. And since the consecration of the Eucharist is an act which follows the power of order, such persons as are separated from the Church by heresy, schism, or excommunication, can indeed consecrate the Eucharist, which on being consecrated by them contains Christ's true body and blood; but they act wrongly, and sin by doing so; and in consequence they do not receive the fruit of the sacrifice, which is a spiritual sacrifice.

In summary: Validly ordained heretical, schismatic, or excommunicated priests can validly consecrate, but they commit an act of profanation in so doing.


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