Amid controversy over a gay woman in the US state of Maryland being denied Communion because of her relationship, a priest who writes on faith and culture emphasised the need to balance respect for the Eucharist with pastoral sensitivity, reports the Catholic News Agency.
"These are delicate matters," said Monsignor Charles Pope, who blogs about culture and current events for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.
It "requires some judgment on the part of the priest" to apply Church teaching on when to deny Communion to an individual, he said.
On February 28, the Washington Post reported that Barbara Johnson was denied Communion at her mother's funeral after introducing her lesbian partner to the priest before Mass.
In the incident that took place on February 25 at St John Neumann Catholic Church, priest Fr Marcel Guarnizo covered the host and told her that by living in a lesbian relationship, she was sinning in the eyes of the Church.
Canon 915 of the Catholic Church's Code of Canon Law instructs that those who obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin should not be admitted to Holy Communion.
Monsignor Pope explained that this means the priest must know that the person's sin is grave, that it is manifest – or well-known – and that the individual in question is obstinate in his or her sin before denying the sacrament.
That generally means that the priest "would need to meet with them privately," he said.
Priest says denial of Communion requires discretion (Catholic News Agency)
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