Sandro Magister’s article on Père Michel-Marie is resounding through the blogosphere and Twitterverse. (What’s the Facebook equivalent called?)
It’s nice to know it has captured more imaginations than just my own. There’s nothing in the article I didn’t find compelling. After reading it, I took the natural step of searching for YouTube footage of the Curé of Canabière.
In his previous life you will recall, Père Michel-Marie was a bar-lounge singer, which explains the mildly intrusive soundtrack. I presume it’s the good Father himself singing. But I’m more interested in the visuals.
It’s all there. His “street apostolate,” his rosary, and above all (simply because it lends itself to the YouTube medium), his liturgical piety.
But if one Sunday you enter his packed church and listen to how he speaks of Christ with simple everyday words, and if you observe the religious slowness of the elevation of the host, in an absolute silence, you ask yourself who this priest is, and what it is in him that draws people, bringing back those who are far away. . .
. . the Mass is stark and beautiful. The affable priest of Canabière is a rigorous priest. Why take so much care with the liturgy? “I want everything to be splendid around the Eucharist. I want that at the elevation, the people should understand that He is here, truly. It is not theater, it is not superfluous pomp: it is inhabiting the Mystery. The heart too needs to feel.”
I almost feel like becoming a priest after watching that…
In fact, if he walked by me, stopped, and asked me to ‘come, follow me’, I would! lol
Having said that though:
“”Even the prostitutes. I give them communion.”
Does that mean they are baptised prostitutes, who have made their first holy communion? I mean, a priest just can’t give communion to anyone who lobs up, can he?
In one sense, a priest is obliged to give communion to anyone who lobs up. He may withhold communion only in very narrow circumstances, wherein communion may cause scandal.
A famous example: Jeff Kennett, the Premier of Victoria, had been known to present himself for communion when he attended state funerals at St Patrick’s Cathedral. When George Pell became Archbishop of Melbourne, he wrote to the Premier, informing him that since he was non-Catholic, he may not receive communion. If the Premier did present himself for communion, he would be refused. The Premier took it to the press, and called Pell’s action “petty.” (That Kennett thought the matter of communion petty and unimportant only vindicates the Archbishop’s action!)
Another famous example: rainbow sash protesters are frequently denied communion.
In both cases, giving communion would cause public scandal among the faithful.
Giving a local prostitute communion? Things get murkier. The mere fact that they are attending their local parish mass and presenting themselves for communion is grounds enough for Fr Michel-Marie to assume they are baptised Catholics. It’s true that a person may not be confirmed or married or ordained without proof of their baptism. But for the frequent sacraments – communion, confession, anointing – a person’s “Catholicity” is simply presumed.
So the issue is really related to the prostitutes’ profession, not their Catholicity. How does Fr Michel-Marie know they are prostitutes? Because he is a good shepherd who knows his flock. He has probably spoken to these women in his street apostolate. Most of his parishioners, however, would not know these communicants are prostitutes, so the “public scandal” thing is mitigated.
So then the issue boils down to one of conscience. Maybe these women made a good confession with some other priest, and are presenting themselves for communion in good faith, and in a state of grace. Fr Michel-Marie can’t know this, but he must presume it. Except in cases of public scandal, a priest may never refuse a person communion. This is a matter of personal conscience; a matter between the communicant and God.
Of course, it is a priest’s duty to form his people’s consciences. But that’s not something that happens in the middle of the communion procession. In happens in preaching, in the confessional, and in courses and talks outside the liturgy.
Thank you Fr John for this article and Yutube. as I watched it (even with th distraction of the singing) tears rolled down my face unbidden. this is priesthood. assailed from all sides, we need priests to be proud to be priests. to be visible as priests and not be afraid of being called out to in a derogatory manner. I know it’s hard but we must remember that Jesus was also verbally abused by the crowd while carrying the cross. His “Bride” is at this moment laboring under the weight of the cross (abuse) but more is the reason for priests and laity to be visibly in love with the church. I am also mindful of the abusing priests and their utter loneliness, fear, shame, guilt, and remember that Jesus said that it’s for the sinners and those not well that he came for and not those who are well. Those who are well have no need of Him.
I would like to believe that I can pray strongly for the abusive priests and victims of course but the priests would be “alone”
Anyway thank you again for this it lifts the spirit.
So true, Anne. I also believe this is the time for the laity to be out, loud and proud as Catholics and to evangelise our faith – to which every one is invited to share.
When people sneer to me about ‘paedophile priests’, I say, “Yes, it’s dreadful that these men who were mostly homosexual, got into the Church and preyed on young guys.” That usually shuts them up. It’s PI to criticise sodomites.
Mu Mu we usually agree on all things but this time I want to stray a little. You see from my study of sexual abuse, the abuser has usually psychosexual developmental problems which means that something terribly wrong happened and their “normal” is not what we would call “normal” I am not justifying but I am saying that there is more to the sexual abuse than meet the eye, You see a “sodomite” or “abuser” is not born such, if so then God makes terrible mistakes. So if God doesnt make mistakes then something happened from the time the abuser was an innocent little boy/girl to later become an abuser and until we find out what that “something” isno commissions, or anything else will bring an end to abuse of children.
Rememer Mu Mu the largest percentage of sexual abuse of children happens in homes even in the best of homes and sometimes in homes which appear “holy” and the child has no where to go.
Anyway dont yell at me please I have been studying this issue for some years now and at times written about it and spoken about it.
night for now when I come back to computer tomorrow I want to see hearts and not brickbats thank you.