18

Can Laity Interrupt Mass If Priest Publicly Proclaims Heresy ?

Please provide any comment or advice you may have regarding this scenario [which, so far, for our age, to your present author,  is purely hypothetical]:

Priest Proclaims Heresy; Laity Response?

A validly ordained priest is saying Mass on a Sunday at a parish, many hundreds of the faithful present, and during the homily he says, clearly and emphatically:

I believe Jesus Christ was a man, nothing more. Jesus was just a man, and nothing more. He was not God, he was not divine. He never rose from the dead. All that you are about to say about this in the Creed, you do not have to believe to be a good Catholic.

Is it OK to stand up and say, to the priest and so that all present in the church can hear: “You are a heretic and you have just proclaimed heresy.”

One could go on and say that, therefore, under Canon Law, with no further ecclesial action, the priest had excommunicated himself and now no longer had the faculties to finish the Mass. One could go on and add many things; but for this discussion, limit this to a lay person announcing you are a heretic and you have proclaimed heresy.

Your author is inclined to stand up and publicly accuse the priest of heresy so all can hear. Would this be a sin? Contrary to Canon Law?

FYI:

Canon Law

The Code Of Canon Law , 1983, deals with the strict limitation of the homily to the ordained:

“Can. 767 §1. Among the forms of preaching, the homily, which is part of the liturgy itself and is reserved to a priest or deacon, is preeminent; in the homily the mysteries of faith and the norms of Christian life are to be explained from the sacred text during the course of the liturgical year.4. It is for the pastor or rector of a church to take care that these prescripts are observed conscientiously.”

Vatican Instruction

In 1997 the Vatican issued a pertinent  instruction:

ON CERTAIN QUESTIONS REGARDING  THE COLLABORATION OF THE NON-ORDAINED FAITHFUL IN THE SACRED MINISTRY OF PRIEST

LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA;  VATICAN CITY 1997

The Homily § 1. The homily, being an eminent form of preaching,  . . . also forms part of the liturgy.”

The homily, therefore, during the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, must be reserved to the sacred minister, Priest or Deacon(69) to the exclusion of the non-ordained faithful, even if these should have responsibilities as “pastoral assistants” or catechists in whatever type of community or group. This exclusion is not based on the preaching ability of sacred ministers nor their theological preparation, but on that function which is reserved to them in virtue of having received the Sacrament of Holy Orders. For the same reason the diocesan Bishop cannot validly dispense from the canonical norm(70) since this is not merely a disciplinary law but one which touches upon the closely connected functions of teaching and sanctifying.

For the same reason, the practice, on some occasions, of entrusting the preaching of the homily to seminarians or theology students who are not clerics . . .  is not permitted. Indeed, the homily should not be regarded as a training for some future ministry.

All previous norms which may have admitted the non-ordained faithful to preaching the homily during the Holy Eucharist are to be considered abrogated by canon 767, § 1.(72)

Share With Friends
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Guy McClung

18 Comments

  1. The young boy took the Eucharist and put it in his pocket. I hollered NO. The boy consumed the Host. The priest was not happy. I reacted. I would do so.before any person is scandalized or worse, lost.
    and then have the priest removed.
    Many years ago a priest came and preached on how people must accept homosexual behavior. He was moved in two weeks; and moved again and again and again.
    The wolves in sheep’s clothing are out there en masse. (no pun intended)

  2. 1. Read out loud any pertinent verse or passage from the readings and psalm for the day (some homilies are in direct contradiction to what has just been read). 2. Stand and recite the Creed. 3. Walk out. 4. Hurl rosaries, bulletins, hand-outs. 5. Stand and turn your back. 6. Escort the priest out of the building. 7. Laugh. 8. Heckle. 9. Sit in silence and do not respond to anything. 10…..??? Come on. Dream. Let’s rock for the Rock.

  3. “One could go on and say that, therefore, under Canon Law, with no further ecclesial action, the priest had excommunicated himself and now no longer had the faculties to finish the Mass.”

    No, that is not the case. According to Canon 1331 (2), it is only if the excommunication is “imposed or declared” that the faculties would be lost.

    This rule goes back to the law Ad Evitenda Scandala, enacted by Martin V att he Council of Constance. “”To avoid scandal and numerous dangers”, says Martin V, “and to relieve timorous consciences, we hereby mercifully grant to all the faithful that henceforth no one need refrain from communicating with another in the reception or administration of the sacraments, or in other matters Divine or profane, under pretext of any ecclesiastical sentence or censure, whether promulgated in general form by law or by a judge, nor avoid anyone whomsoever, nor observe an ecclesiastical interdict, except when this sentence or censure shall have been published or made known by the judge in special and express form, against some certain, specified person…”

    In other words, automatic excommunication (latae sententiae) has no effect in the external forum until a declarator has been pronounced by the ecclesiastical judge. Until then, it merely affects the conscience of the offender.

  4. “”To avoid scandal and numerous dangers”, says Martin V, “and to relieve timorous consciences, we hereby mercifully grant to all the faithful that henceforth no one need refrain from communicating with another in the reception or administration of the sacraments, or in other matters Divine or profane, under pretext of any ecclesiastical sentence or censure, whether promulgated in general form by law or by a judge, nor avoid anyone whomsoever, nor observe an ecclesiastical interdict, except when this sentence or censure shall have been published or made known by the judge in special and express form, against some certain, specified person…”

    In other words, automatic excommunication (latae sententiae) has no effect in the external forum until a declarator has been pronounced by the ecclesiastical judge. Until then, it merely affects the conscience of the offender.”
    YES. Thank you Michael Peterson-Seymour
    This is taught by the Catholic Church ti this day.
    Even if one is innocent and the Catholic Church officially excommunicates that person, he must observe the restrictions of his excommunication even to being barred from the Sacraments. God provides for the innocent.

  5. MYLES
    1. Read out loud any pertinent verse or passage from the readings and psalm for the day (some homilies are in direct contradiction to what has just been read). 2. Stand and recite the Creed. 3. Walk out. 4. Hurl rosaries, bulletins, hand-outs. 5. Stand and turn your back. 6. Escort the priest out of the building. 7. Laugh. 8. Heckle. 9. Sit in silence and do not respond to anything. 10…..??? Come on. Dream. Let’s rock for the Rock.
    NO, Myles.
    I was devastated after I heard myself shout “NO”. People came to console me after Mass. (The priest was not happy)
    If a person acts out of order in the Mass (as the heretical priest is doing), he will be allowing the priest to be the victim in this instance. We must pray.
    Saint Teresa of Avila approached the Holy Eucharist to see giant diabolic horns surrounding the priest’s head to his hands. She says that she wanted to turn and run away. Jesus told her to stay and PRAY.
    It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that transubstantiation takes place. If the priest’s faculties are restricted, the priest’s Mass may be illicit. The priest’s Mass is still valid. It is precisely the man’s ordination that will bring the priest hell fire that even the devil tries to escape.

  6. Wait, Mary De VOE, this actually happened?!
    Dear God!
    I assume you have scheduled a meeting with the Bishop?

  7. ‘Answer pulling’ by the homilist seems also forbidden by the cited canon law. IOW the homilist must not toss out questions expecting members of the assembly to answer.

    Answer pulling is also counterproductive as a teaching technique.

  8. All, All comments mucho appreciated. MP Seymour, many thanks, you are making me research. T Aquinas, I think, agrees with you (see below). Still, I am not convinced to sit in silence, or get up immediately and walk out. . Guy

    ”Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

    “We’ve had enough exhortations to be silent. Cry out with a thousand tongues – I see the world is rotten because of silence.” St Catherine of Siena

    St. Thomas Aquinas:
    “Article 7. Whether heretics, schismatics, and excommunicated persons can consecrate?
    Objection 1. It seems that heretics, schismatics, and excommunicated persons are not able to consecrate the Eucharist. For Augustine says (Liber sentent. Prosperi xv) that “there is no such thing as a true sacrifice outside the Catholic Church”: and Pope Leo I says (Ep. lxxx; cf. Decretal i, q. 1): Elsewhere “(i.e. than in the Church which is Christ’s body) there is neither valid priesthood nor true sacrifice.” But heretics, schismatics, and excommunicated persons are severed from the Church. Therefore they are unable to offer a true sacrifice.

    Objection 2. Further (Decretal, caus. i, q. 1), Innocent I is quoted as saying: “Because we receive the laity of the Arians and other pestilential persons, if they seem to repent, it does not follow that their clergy have the dignity of the priesthood or of any other ministerial office, for we allow them to confer nothing save Baptism.” But none can consecrate the Eucharist, unless he have the dignity of the priesthood. Therefore heretics and the like cannot consecrate the Eucharist.

    Objection 3. Further, it does not seem feasible for one outside the Church to act on behalf of the Church. But when the priest consecrates the Eucharist, he does so in the person of the entire Church, as is evident from the fact of his putting up all prayers in the person of the Church. Therefore, it seems that those who are outside the Church, such as those who are heretics, schismatics, and excommunicate, are not able to consecrate the Eucharist.

    On the contrary, Augustine says (Contra Parmen. ii): “Just as Baptism remains in them,” i.e. in heretics, schismatics, and those who are excommunicate, “so do their orders remain intact.” Now, by the power of his ordination, a priest can consecrate the Eucharist. Therefore, it seems that heretics, schismatics, and those who are excommunicate, can consecrate the Eucharist, since their orders remain entire.

    I answer that, 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.

    Reply to Objection 1. Such and similar authorities are to be understood in this sense, that the sacrifice is offered wrongly outside the Church. Hence outside the Church there can be no spiritual sacrifice that is a true sacrifice with the truth of its fruit, although it be a true sacrifice with the truth of the sacrament; thus it was stated above (III:80:3), that the sinner receives Christ’s body sacramentally, but not spiritually.

    Reply to Objection 2. Baptism alone is allowed to be conferred by heretics, and schismatics, because they can lawfully baptize in case of necessity; but in no case can they lawfully consecrate the Eucharist, or confer the other sacraments.

    Reply to Objection 3. The priest, in reciting the prayers of the mass, speaks instead of the Church, in whose unity he remains; but in consecrating the sacrament he speaks as in the person of Christ, Whose place he holds by the power of his orders. Consequently, if a priest severed from the unity of the Church celebrates mass, not having lost the power of order, he consecrates Christ’s true body and blood; but because he is severed from the unity of the Church, his prayers have no efficacy.”

  9. DAVID SPAULDING
    Wait, Mary De VOE, this actually happened?!
    Dear God!
    I assume you have scheduled a meeting with the Bishop?”
    It happened. The boy took the Host out of his pocket and consumed it.
    What need do you see?

  10. Dealing with situations like this requires some precision — more precision than is possible from someone who fails to distinguish between what CAN be done and what MAY be done. There is a real difference in meaning; this is not some genteel affectation. The hypothetical priest has already taken advantage of the fact that he CAN preach heresy; Church law only says he MAY not.

  11. Not long ago, when the name of the priest for the Sunday Mass was announced, and he was someone I knew who held heretical positions, as soon as he had processed in and he was facing us from behind the altar, I and my family very visibly left our pew and exited the church. I glanced at him and saw him watching us as we left. On another note, priests who preach heresy during their homilies face strange forces; if not in this life, then in the next. Decades ago, in this country (not the US), a young newly ordained priest gave his first Sunday Mass at our parish. In his homily he said that he believed that “the resurrection of the dead” in the Creed simply means that people turn away from being uncaring to being socially concerned. A group of nuns in their white habits were sitting in a pew near the front and seemed to be listening intently. Next Sunday the young man was in civilian clothes, in the pews, and I never saw him say a Mass ever again. Recently, an older priest said in his Sunday homily that our Church is behind the times, and that we must be ordaining women priests. These days nuns would probably have approved, but there were no nuns in church that day. However, the lights in the church immediately blew out, the sound system died, and it became impossible to hear the rest of the homily, and the rest of the Mass for that matter, but for a barely audible mutter. I and my family did not go for communion.

  12. A one time pastor of mine took a literal view of the limitations of lay preaching as you note in canon law. He frequently had non-ordained (lay and religious) preach at Vespers, Liturgy of the Word, Good Friday and non-Eucharist Ash Wednesday services as well as occasionally omit the homily at weekday Masses (as it is not required) and have a “theological reflection” by a lay person immediately after Mass, delivered from the pulpit.

  13. When he was still a lay lawyer/rhetor of Constantinople, Eusebius of Dorylaeum called out from the congregation when Nestorius was preaching that Mary was not to be called the God-bearer. “The eternal Word submitted to be born a second time!” he cried. Then he encouraged the applause that broke out, sustaining it so that Nestorius could not be heard. Later, as Bishop of Doryleum, he would several times privately confront Eutyches on his error that Our Lord’s flesh was “heavenly,” something other than ours, and then fiercely oppose that error publicly. He should be enrolled in the calendar of saints alongside St. Flavian on February 18.

  14. A very similar instance to that described by Mary DeVoe happened at a funeral Mass at which I attended a few months ago.

    The deceased who occasioned the funeral Mass, and her surviving spouse, were/are outstanding Catholics and people, but the children and now-adult grandchildren, eeeehhh. Just by demeanor, up until Communion, you could see and “feel” something out of kilter, watching this crowd (we were forced to do so, since this was a “theatre-in-the-round” church, which I hate so much). No sense of gravity for the occasion, nor respect for the great woman who had passed away.

    So, I must hand it to the alert eucharistic ministers, two very devout lay women, that they spotted one of the teen girls from Nineveh grab the host and walk off with it, proceed to her pew, where she was laughing and showing it to others in the pew, and then put it in her pocket. Lay minister #1 saw all this andstared at her and beckoned her to return. She refused and avoided eye contact. Finally, Communion having ended, Lay minister #1 took to the podium and insisted, “Anyone who has come to receive Communion and has not consumed it must do so NOW, or must return it to me at once.” She glared a laser beam at the young female; who, sadly (I say, based on Aquinas’ Lauda Sion, about receiving unworthily), finally swallowed the host in front of about ten pews of people–nay, how bout the whole church— staring at her.

    I commended the ladies afterwards for their courage and alertness: and they said this happens more often now. ..

    …I guess one shouldnt be surprised since we are in what S. Pius X used to say (Pascendi, 1907), “in these last days” of the earth.

Comments are closed.