It reportedly happened last weekend, in California.
Some parishioners at St. Norbert’s Church in Orange describe themselves as “shocked and appalled” after a priest there allowed a Presbyterian minister to concelebrate a Mass and receive Holy Communion on Sunday, Feb. 13.
Sources from the parish told California Catholic Daily that Fr. Agustin Escobar (shown in the picture) introduced Pastor Steve Whitney of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Sacramento at St. Norbert’s 9 a.m. Sunday Mass. The sources said Rev. Whitney concelebrated the Mass with Fr. Escobar, took Communion, and was allowed to distribute Communion to parishioners.
The parish’s pastor, Fr. Pat Rudolph, was away at the time and did not participate. Parishioners who tried to contact him about the situation were told he would not be back at St. Norbert’s until March. But, said sources at the parish, Fr. Escobar admitted he did not have the pastor’s permission to invite the Protestant minister to concelebrate Mass and receive Communion.
One parishioner fired off an angry email to Bishop Brown and other high-ranking diocesan officials, calling the occurrence at St. Norbert’s “a travesty.”
“Shocked and appalled,” said the email to the bishop. “That was how I felt, and continue to feel…” The writer said Fr. Escobar is “unrepentant,” and yelled at his wife when she spoke to him about what had happened after Mass. Fr. Escobar, said the parishioner, told his wife “she isn’t a true Christian because Jesus would love everyone.”
“Our missals even have the admonition inside the front cover welcoming non-Catholics to our parish and the Mass, but informing them in no uncertain terms that they are not allowed to receive the Eucharist,” the email to Bishop Brown pointed out.
“Canonical law is clear,” said the parishioner’s email to the bishop. “Can. 908: Catholic priests are forbidden to concelebrate the Eucharist with priests or ministers of Churches or ecclesial communities which do not have full communion with the Catholic Church.”
“Fr. Agustin should be censured — strongly — and our parish should be taught that what he did is wrong,” said the parishioner’s email to the bishop. “Fr. Agustin should also apologize to the parish for breaking faith with us, and trampling the Church’s rules.”
There’s more, too, over at GetReligion, where Terry Mattingly is frankly amazed that this hasn’t gotten more ink.