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(Note: This is in Holland) A Catholic Charismatic woman desired to have her baptism blessed by immersion in water (she had been baptized as a child in the Catholic church). She presumed that it was not possible for the blessing of her baptism by immersion by the Catholic Church. (This is not the problem)

Problem: So she went to a Evangelical church and they did baptized her by immersion; she not being aware of the consequences of her actions. (Happens allot) When the local Catholic priest found out about her action, he told her, in front of the whole congregation, that she was not allowed to receive Communion anymore. She, being a daily communicant, was of course devastated to tears.

Is this a correct answer? As far as I have researched: She, having no knowledge of the law and of the penalty means that she did not defy the authority of the Church. Through the sacrament of confession, if she repents for not knowing the penalty of her action, then she would be welcomed back to full communion in the Church and can receive Communion again. It is best to do this with the priest who first gave her the restriction. Is this a god response to send the woman? c code 1312, 1358 Is this a correct opinion? In my opinion, the priest should also ask her forgiveness for his public tactlessness baptismfor forbidding her to receive Communion during the Liturgy. He should have first talked to her in private.

  • When you sati she wanted to have her baptism blessed by immersion, do you mean that she had already been baptized? – Matt Gutting Jun 19 '17 at 21:15
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    You should add these details to your original question rather than asking a new one. – curiousdannii Jun 20 '17 at 0:25
  • Has she tried to partake of the sacrament of penance and reconciliation, and so make remedy for what appears to have been ruled a grave sin by ecclesial authority? This question is incomplete. Also, are you familiar with the Nicene Creed? "We believe in one baptism for the forgiveness of sins" – KorvinStarmast Jun 20 '17 at 14:56
  • "A Catholic Charismatic woman desired to have her baptism blessed by immersion in water" I think I've found a problem: 1) 'Charistmatic' Catholic. What does that qualification mean? 2) baptism cannot be 'blessed' by anything so I wonder what you mean. 3) Disobedience: doing what you couldn't get in the Church and instead of seeking the correction of either yourself or of the abuse of whatever it is you are entitled to being withheld from you, going outside the Church to get something only entrusted to the Church. Please clarify. – Sola Gratia Jun 21 '17 at 20:03
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Given that the woman had already been baptized in the Catholic Church, there was no need for her to "bless" her baptism in any sense. Deliberately participating in the rites of another ecclesial community likely constitutes what canon 1365 of the Code of Canon Law calls "prohibited participation in sacred rites". According to the canon, this is to be punished with "a just penalty".

What constitutes a just penalty, then, and how is it imposed, and who has the authority to impose it? First of all, a "just penalty" is one that matches the severity of the crime—so it would have to be determined by the judge (i.e. the one imposing the penalty) that it is a reasonable response to the crime; neither too harsh nor too lax. Forbidding someone from receiving communion is rather harsh, but has been imposed by some bishops (for example, on politicians who vote in favor of bills supporting freer availability of abortion).

This brings us to the last question: Who has the authority to impose such a penalty? It is, in fact, only the ordinary who has authority to do this. It is certainly possible that the ordinary has issued a letter to each parish stating that exclusion from Communion is the standard response for deliberately participating in the sacred rites of another ecclesial community. Absent such a general rule, though, the priest has no authority to do this on his own.

If the bishop did not impose such a general penalty for the diocese, then (given that the priest had no authority to impose it in her case specifically) is the woman excluded from Communion? ABSOLUTELY AND CERTAINLY NOT. Canon law is very clear about this. If the woman is not under any sort of censure or penalty, she must be allowed Communion at a reasonable time.

Sacred ministers cannot deny the sacraments to those who seek them at appropriate times, are properly disposed, and are not prohibited by law from receiving them.

Canon 843, Section 1

As far as telling her this in front of the whole congregation: There's nothing in Church law prohibiting the priest from doing this, but it certainly seems out of keeping with his pastoral responsibilities. Even the ordinary, apparently, is obliged to warn the person before imposing a penalty (Canon 1347 section 1).

Thus:

  • It is not clear whether the bishop had created a general penalty of this sort. This can be discovered by inquiring at the chancery (the administrative office of the diocese).
  • If he had not, the priest had no authority to forbid the woman to receive Communion, and she is not in fact forbidden. One ought to report the priest's action to the bishop or his representative.
  • The priest was tactless in his treatment of the woman, regardless; if there is a concern over this it should be taken to the pastor of the parish (if the priest is not the pastor) or to the bishop.
  • She did, however, commit wrongdoing, and should go to confession. Whether this is with the priest involved or not makes no difference.
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    It is also possible that the Priest only meant her not to receive until she had been to confession. – Belinda Jun 20 '17 at 14:47
  • @Belinda it's possible, but doesn't fit well with the description "he told her ... she was not allowed to receive Communion anymore". – Matt Gutting Jun 20 '17 at 14:52
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    @Belinda I'd like to hear the priest's side of the story. As with most SE questions, we get one side of the story. – KorvinStarmast Jun 20 '17 at 14:59
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    @MattGutting Agreed, but we are hearing it third hand. It is possible for statements to be misinterpreted. Unless the excusing circumstances outlined in canons 1321-1330[5] exist, the Code of Canon Law imposes latae sententiae excommunication on the following: an apostate from the faith, a heretic, or a schismatic;[6] may also have been his concern. Being baptised in another Church could be seen as heresy or schism. Either way, I agree with your answer. Even if an excommunication occured it can be lifted. – Belinda Jun 20 '17 at 14:59
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    @Belinda Your last sentence is true and sadly misunderstood by many both within and without the Roman Catholic Church. – KorvinStarmast Jun 20 '17 at 23:44

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