Sally Quinn: A tribute too far? – UPDATE

Of all the tribute written by journalists about their friend, Tim Russert, a few have been standouts; Jon Meacham’s piece in Newsweek was onesuch.

In her column, “On Faith” Sally Quinn writes another excellent, heartfelt tribute about the fullness of the man, Tim Russert, and how his faith, joyfully confessed throughout his being, completed that fullness. Russert was, by all accounts, a man who was not defined by his faith; rather he – by the way he lived his life – helped define the faith to others.

That is a peculiar and, I think, rare grace; too many of us Catholics – myself included – manage to identify as passionately Catholic (as in, “she’s a Catholic, and she’s alright when she’s not being a pain in the ass about it”) while rather too few of us can inspire folks to say, as Russert apparently did, “he was a Catholic, and what I saw in him made me more appreciative of Catholicsm.”

Writes Quinn:

…I’ve been trying to analyze it and what I think is this: Tim was a truly good person. He was authentic. He was kind and generous and thoughtful and caring. He was optimistic and funny. He was deeply religious. He was the most enthusiastic person I have ever known.

The word “enthusiastic” comes from the Greek words “en theos”, meaning “in God.”
Tim talked bout Kennedy’s inauguration speech….what struck Tim was when Kennedy said: “Let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking his blessing and his help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.” It “was so consistent with what I had been taught: that there is a higher meaning, a deeper purpose to life than just getting a job and making money; that there is something much more to our core as a person and a son or daughter of God.”

All of Russert’s colleagues have mentioned his faith, and how it touched them, how quick he was to offer prayers (and to mean it) how comforted even the atheists felt when he said he was praying for them. Some have criticized the media for seeming – in their grief – to confer sainthood upon Russert. I am thinking that for the folks in his industry, who don’t know many believers and whose coverage of church and preacher scandals and scams has made them cynical about faith, Russert was, in fact, the closest thing they have ever come to meeting and knowing a “real” saint, for he was certainly a “saint” in the biblical sense (we’ll have to wait on the canonical.)

As Mother Angelica liked to say, before she lost her power of speech, “you might be the only Christ your neighbor ever sees.” I think Tim Russert had become for Quinn, and for many of his colleagues, the very face of Christ – the only Christ they had ever seen. And now all they knew of Christ has been taken from them.

As we know from scripture, losing access to Christ is no small thing.

I suspect that it was Quinn’s missing both Russert and his means of displaying Christ to her that inspired her – a non-Catholic – to partake of Holy Communion at his funeral.

Which, strictly speaking, no, she ought not to have done.

She mentions it only in passing in her column:

…at Tim’s funeral mass…communion was offered. I had only taken communion once in my life, at an evangelical church. It was soon after I had started “On Faith” and I wanted to see what it was like. Oddly I had a slightly nauseated sensation after I took it, knowing that in some way it represented the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Last Wednesday I was determined to take it for Tim, transubstantiation notwithstanding. I’m so glad I did. It made me feel closer to him. And it was worth it just to imagine how he would have loved it.

Hoo, boy. For someone who got so much of it right earlier in her column, she got an awful lot wrong in that paragraph, and Bill Donoghue of the Catholic League was quick to let her know it:

Just reading what Sally Quinn said is enough to give any Christian, especially Catholics, more than a ‘slightly nauseating sensation.’ In her privileged world, life is all about experiences and feelings. Moreover, Quinn’s statement not only reeks of narcissism, it shows a profound disrespect for Catholics and the beliefs they hold dear. If she really wanted to get close to Tim Russert, she should have found a way to do so without trampling on Catholic sensibilities.

Well…but perhaps there might have been a better way to teach her how to do that.

The New Republic called Quinn to get her reaction to Donoghue, and hers was not a conciliatory response:

“I’m baffled by the reaction, and completely blindsided,” Quinn said. “I’m very pluralistic about religion, and I feel that everyone should respect everyone else’s.” [...]

I was really close to [Russert], and I was grieving. And I thought me taking the Eucharist would be a thing that he would really enjoy. And all these things are what religion should be about. … There’s no sign out there that says you’re not allowed to take Communion. [The Catholic Church is] like, “Everyone is welcome. This is God’s house.” God doesn’t turn people away, supposedly.

I think it’s really an important issue. The Pope doesn’t want people who are pro-choice to take it. John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, Chris Dodd, even the mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, and others were not allowed. … Frankly, none of that was going through my mind. I was feeling absolutely destroyed. It felt right to do it as a tribute to him. I wasn’t thinking politically at all.

I’ve become a champion of pluralism and a spirit of inclusiveness. Any religious people who purport to be Christians, or whatever faith you might be, would do everything they could to welcome others–in the case of Catholics, to welcome others the way Christ would welcome others. This is a perfect example of WWJD. Would Jesus have said, “No you don’t, Sally Quinn. You’re not going to get away with this one!”

There are many, many inaccuracies (and yes, a lot of “I’s” and “me’s”) in that quote – none of the public and political Catholics she mentioned were denied communion, even at the recent papal masses (a fact that troubles many Catholics) – and it must be said that Quinn preens a bit too pink as owning the virtues of “inclusiveness,” “pluralism” “tolerance,” “welcome” etc, while managing to display how empty those words can be when they’re not backed up by respect, understanding and yes, “tolerance,” a word I have grown to loathe.

“Tolerance,” must be a two-way street or it is nothing.

Quinn would likely never think to walk into a mosque with high heels and an uncovered head, or go into those parts of a Hindu temple reserved only for the devout, but she sees no problem with availing herself of the Holy Eucharist in a Catholic Church without considering that, for Catholics receiving the Eucharist is a sacrament, just like Baptism.

Non-Catholics are very welcome to attend Mass, and they are even welcome to participate in the Communion Rite, up to a point, and it is a well-defined and simple point that even the “idiot George Bush” manages to comprehend, as we’ve noted here.

We Catholics believe that the Eucharist is the Real Presence of Christ, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, and as such it is to be received reverently and faithfully, by Catholics and those Orthodox Christians who are in communion with Rome, and not out of curiosity or as part of a spiritual “field trip”. One must – at the very least – believe that Christ is there, Present in the Eucharist.

Tim Russert was a devout Catholic
; it is up for debate whether he would have, as Quinn seems to think, “loved” her taking Communion. He might have. Or he might have shrugged and thought, “well, let Jesus sort that out, since he’s there, now, inside her,” or he may have wished that she had not done so.

But, it’s a curious thing. See what Quinn has written here:

…I was determined to take it for Tim, transubstantiation notwithstanding. I’m so glad I did. It made me feel closer to him.

Sally Quinn was attempting to commune with Tim Russert – a man who, while on Earth, may have been to her “the only Christ” she had ever seen.

Her instinct, then, could be construed as “seeking Christ the only way she has known him, through the sacrament of Communion.”

She shouldn’t have done it. It would be lovely if non-Catholics would take the time, as President and Mrs. Bush did, to learn what we believe and to respect our ways as they might respect a million other multi-culti rituals. But on the other hand, Quinn may have brought a real innocence to her act, as well as some vincible ignorance. Christ is bigger than any slight that can be made against him, and the Holy Spirit has a way of using the most surprising people or circumstances for designs we cannot understand.

I like what Fr. James Martin writes here:

Ms. Quinn is quite correct in asking, “What would Jesus do?” It is an important question for all churches to ask themselves.

On the other hand [...] …[Quinn's] words “transubstantiation notwithstanding” are difficult to hear. If one knows enough about Catholicism to mention “transubstantiation” then one should also know that the word “notwithstanding” makes little sense in that context.

At the same time, the Catholic League need not attack Ms. Quinn ad hominem. Ms. Quinn, whatever her personal beliefs, seems to have approached the altar rail out of love for her Catholic friend, not hatred for the Catholic church. …

In short, may I offer some friendly advice to both parties?

To Ms. Quinn: Giving tribute to a friend may also mean respecting his religious traditions.

To the Catholic League: Giving people the benefit of the doubt is a good way to show respect, too.

Fr. Martin’s whole piece is worth reading, and I hope you will. And I hope Mr. Donoghue will consider that Ms. Quinn has had an encounter with Christ, fully Present, and that while neither her head nor her heart seemed to have been appropriately engaged to recognize him in that form, Christ may wish to work that encounter.

We Catholics certainly have a responsibility to Christ to insure that his Eucharistic Presence is correctly understood and reverenced, but when someone – Catholic or non-Catholic – gets it wrong, we have another responsibility: to correct the error in a way that is both firm but loving, so as not to get in the way of Christ and whatever he might have begun within that person.

Ms. Quinn might have looked back on her mistaken reception of the Eucharist and recalled the sense of peace she found there, and it might have spurred her on, perhaps, to look more deeply at what the Eucharist is. It might have brought future, more devout, encounters. Now, her memory of that moment will always be overshadowed by the finger-wagging, name-calling scolding she’s received.

At what point, in protecting and shielding Christ from insult, do we actually get in his way, and prevent him from doing what he wants? We can know the rules and rubrics back and forth, but we cannot know the mind of God, and sometimes we perhaps need to, in all humility, remember Mother Angelica’s words about being “the only Christ your neighbor ever sees” and simply pray “thy will be done.”

A lively discussion is going on about this over at Inside Catholic.

UPDATED: More bloggers writing on “Quinn-gate” over the weekend – see links below. Also either I am a very bad writer, or some folks are making a willful mental leap, for fun, and deciding that I have written here that Tim Russert is Jesus, which is not what I said. I said that for SOME of his colleagues, he is the only Jesus they’ve ever seen, as per Mother Angelica’s teaser. Really, I think it explains itself.

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  • Peregrine John

    For what it’s worth, my understanding of the taking of body and blood is that it has nothing at all to do with respect for or signals toward other Christians, but is a communing with the One Himself. Throughout Christendom it is both symbolic and spiritual (which are, as you have indirectly pointed out many times, not remotely the same thing), and for Catholics it is also considered literal. It is universal to Christianity. As such, it brings about at least 3 odd issues:

    First is the discussion of the whole thing in 1 Corinthians, in the last half of chapter 11, particularly verses 27-32. It sums up thusly: do it for the right reasons or don’t do it at all. This must come before, and influence, the other 2 issues.

    At the risk of giving support to the “feelings above all” crowd, we actually do have to consider who is around us when taking part of it. I attend 2 services each Sunday: first I sing for Sacred Heart’s choir, and then I go to a very modern church. As I say, I’m not Catholic, I just play one in the loft. When they bring the host up to us, I do not take part. I wait for the Protestant service to commune. Why? Because my fellow choirsters know I’m not Catholic. Paul covered the topic pretty clearly, and C.S. Lewis expounded on it better than I ever will (in Screwtape Proposes A Toast), so I leave it at this: I do not want to dilute the impact of it or lead astray my High Church brothers. Note that this is simple obedience and consideration, not one of those abominable cases I’ve seen too often of someone saying, “I’m weak, you must submit to me!”

    On the other hand, if I were in a situation where I was assumed to be Catholic, I absolutely would, and for the same reasons: it is required of me in the first place as any sort of Christian, and I would not want to cause damage to my brothers. Again, see Screwtape Proposes A Toast for details on that, and why altering one’s habits is important based on situation.

    It’s just those 2 commandments: foremost, love and obey God; love and care for each other. It only really gets complicated when we make variations on forgetting that the sabbath was made for man, not the other way around.

  • Gayle Miller

    What Sally Quinn did was – to her at least – nothing particularly special. That is because, for far too long, it has been quite acceptable to bash all things Catholic in the media so the necessity to respect OUR faith doesn’t even occur to most people. If we don’t INSIST on receiving respect for OUR faith, why would we expect anyone else to do so. This is why it is a good thing for people like you to gently and kindly explain to the Sally Quinns of this world what how her awesome sacrilege is viewed by Catholics. Ignorance is no excuse in the law, nor should it be an excuse in matters of this kind.

    I’m also glad YOU did it, dear Anchoress, because you were much kinder about it than I might have been. As the temperatures outside go up, my temper becomes short!

  • lsusportsfan

    I think that is clam measured and indeed Christ like response

    One can stand up for the Faith and indeed the Blessed Sacrament in a way that is not overboard. For instance there are times when you have to come down hard like the hounds of hell on your child when he is wrong , but other times the gentle hand of loving correction is appropriate.

    I think that is the case here.

  • TheAnchoress

    I like this from a commenter at America:

    In ‘God is Near Us: The Eucharist, the Heart of Life,’ Pope Benedict takes up the idea that the Eucharist should be for everyone, ‘without any limit or denominational preconditions.’ He writes: ‘however tempting the idea may be–it contradicts what we find in the Bible. Jesus’ Last Supper was not one of those meals he held with ‘publicans and sinners.’ He made it subject to the basic form of the Passover, which implies that this meal was held in the family setting. . . . The Eucharist is not itself the sacrament of reconciliation, but in fact it presupposes that sacrament. It is the sacrament of the reconciled, to which the Lord invites all those who have become one with him; who certainly still remain weak sinners, but yet have given their hand to him and become part of his family . . . That is why there are conditions for participating in it; it presupposes that we have voluntarily entered into the mystery of Jesus Christ.” (pp. 59-60)
    Posted By Matt Emerson

  • singleton

    As a non Catholic I confess I don’t really understand transubstantiation, and therefore have difficulty understanding why what she did was wrong. But I do understand that Catholics do feel strongly on the subject, and in a spirit of pluralism and inclusiveness, I believe we should honor Catholic’s views, and that she should not have taken it. She should have done as you were so proud of George Bush for doing, and that is cross his arms so that the priest would bless him rather than offering the host.

    After I read what you wrote about George Bush I asked a hospital chaplain, and he said that if a non Catholic was free to just go down the street and take communion at another church it would not be proper for them to do so in a Catholic church, but if the Catholic church was the only church in town, or in times of war, etc. that it is OK. I presume b that that he would not have minded if I took Communion from him in a hospital. (I didn’t, but he implied it would be OK).

    Do you agree with that? What about the converse? Would it be OK for you to take Communion in the evangelical church with Sally? Any time, or only if it was the only church in town? What about if you were in a non-Catholic hospital, and the chaplain was a Baptist?

    I am just seeking to learn.

  • TheAnchoress

    Hi Don – there is quite a lively discussion going on over at Inside Catholic that might be interesting to you.

    Since Catholics believe that the Eucharist is the Real Body and Blood of Christ, (taking our stuff from John 6) we recall Paul’s admonishment about those “receiving the body and blood unworthily” to heart. Catholics are supposed to be in a “state of grace” or free from grace sin to receive Christ, as to do otherwise is to invite him into a sullied place where no reconciliation has been made. One may argue that Christ often went to the “unclean” and that’s true, but as I said, we take our cue from Paul and the early church fathers. Christ also – as a priest at Inside Catholic points out – was very clear that holy things were not to be disrespected or “given to dogs” and certainly the Eucharist is a Holy Thing and more.

    Also, and this is really very fundamental to the whole question…we have to BELIEVE that we are receiving the Body and Blood of Christ. Every communicant must understand and believe this – because logically, if we do not believe it, do not understand it, we are, in a manner of speaking, denying Christ.

    I frankly don’t know if the chaplain you spoke to was correct but I suspect he might be – that would be a question for the Inside Catholic crew, who are better versed in all the canonical and lawyerly stuff than I am. As to my receiving communion in an evangelical setting, I wouldn’t do it. I believe (though I do not know) that my own church would tell me not to, but even still I wouldn’t do it because my own instincts tell me that to partake of communion in a non-Catholic or unorthodox service – where the participants make no claims for Eucharist and take a communion that is symbolic of the Last Supper, I would be putting it on a par with what I believe to be the Real Presence, the true “bread of Angels” or “heavenly food” the “Bread of Life” which Christ told us we must eat.

    With no intention to insult non-Eucharistic communions, believing as I do Catholic and Orthodox communion, it would simply be wrong of me to risk anyone making the assumption that I am equating one with the other. If my Baptist friends were communing, and I wanted to participate in some way (and the arms-crossed blessing was not an option) I supposed I would simply keep my head bowed in prayer and ask God to bless us all.

    I hope that hasn’t offended anyone, I’m very tired (insomnia) and am afraid I am not explaining myself well.

  • singleton

    I am certainly not offended, and I doubt anyone else would be. I am just trying to understand the differences. I did not know about the crossed arms until you praised GWB for doing it.

  • KIA

    Two things on this most intersting subject matter:

    1. Don’t the priests or parishes have an obligation, especially at funerals and weddings where it’s a pretty sure bet many will not be Catholics, to make a brief “gentle” announcement as to the “why” Holy Communion is not open to non-Catholics. My sister goes to that church and often raves about it. I need to double check with her, but I can’t imagine notice wasn’t given for non-Catholics not to receive.

    2. It was always my impression that for one to receive the Eucharist equates to “FULL agreement of what the Catholic Church teaches.” If I am correct on that, imagine the “rush to the alter” if such a notice were posted. Sadly, many so called catholics would be foreced into an examination of conscience.

    I don’t write #2 as a “gotcha to Catholics living outside of what the church teaches,”, but more of, as you so well stated in another comment Anchoress, of how important it is to be “reconciled” BEFORE receiving.

    Bottom line, I’m pretty sure that if we receive, we are also saying, as a witness to the Body of Christ and most certainly to God, I believe ALL THAT THE CATHOLIC CHURCH teaches.

  • Jean

    I dunno, Anchoress. I got from reading Quinn’s column that she knew what she was doing (the “transubstantiation” quote was a clue) and decided to do it anyway. Curiosity?

    In my family, I have a number of unchurched, Jewish, Lutheran, Baptist, etc. relatives. At every wedding and every funeral, the priest makes clear the requirements for receiving the Eucharist. Only a couple of my relatives who were definitely *not* in communion with the Church have ever received. In general, we pray for them, which is all we can do after the fact.

  • TheAnchoress

    Hi Jean, I take your point but I think you’d agree that there is a difference between having the sort of very superficial, wholly intellectualized understanding of what transubstatiation is – and I suspect that such is the case with Quinn, sort of a “oh yeah, they say it’s Jesus, how quaint, I think I’ll received – and having a true appreciation for what it all means.

    You should check out the back and forth at Inside Catholic, which is pretty interesting.

  • Jean

    Sure, Anchoress. But I think my grandma (herself a convert) said it best when she said, “Jesus will get them.” And not in a vindictive way, mind you.

    When I was very little, one of the cousins took Communion and then someone must have told him he shouldn’t have. He was going to stick it in under the pew, but one of the uncles told him to swallow, as it was less disrespectful than treating the Eucharist like chewing gum. Fast forward more than 25 years, and this same cousin (officially) received his First Holy Communion.

    You know, I think after I check out that Inside Catholic link, I’ll e-mail my cousin and ask if he wants to pray for Sally Quinn. ;)

  • TheAnchoress

    I understand, Jean. I once wrote of some bloggers who were dissing Mary, “don’t worry, she’ll get them in the end, and they’ll be glad for it.”

    That was of course misconstrued, but you know what I meant!

  • mrmurph


    Just read the entire brief press release from the Catholic League quoting Bill Donohue. Don’t want to make more of your mild rebuke or Father Martin’s rather pompous advice to Donohue than is warrented, but Donohue deserves no tisk, tisking about his remarks. He was clear, direct and accurate in his comments about Quinn’s actions.

  • MaxedOutMama

    Thank you for writing this, Anchoress.

    I don’t know. When I asked the light in prayer about transubstantiation and the meaning of Communion a couple of years ago it responded with a great deal of detail and explanation plus an example. On the face of it the light’s explanation appears pretty hardcore. As it was explained to me, taking Communion improperly can be dangerous and destructive to the person who does it, and GIVING Communion improperly is a sin, and if it is a reiterated, knowing and continued sin, it will eventually cause the priest who does this to be unpriestified somehow. The way the light explained it was that an irrigation channel which delivers contaminated water will be blocked up because it is in complete contradiction of its purpose.

    But when I read Sally Quinn’s whole article, I am not so sure that she didn’t in fact qualify on several of the fundamentals required for valid Communion. By the definitions I was given it appears to have been an imperfect communion, but a real communion, perhaps not participation in the Eucharist by the Catholic definition, but almost certainly a genuine, if deeply ignorant, spiritual Communion. Her later response seems to be in a very different spirit than her original statements about it, which makes me think that she may be experiencing one of the destructive effects of improper Communion described by the light – that it generates deep conflicts in the individual which the individual is poorly placed to resolve, often being outside the framework of spiritual counseling and confronted with the weight of their own unresolved sin in a very deep way. This can drive an individual to desperation, denial of the Spirit, and the person might end up further from That Which Is than before the improper Communion. This is why it is a sin to give Communion improperly.

    It would be better for priests to explain Communion more amply, and explain why non-Catholics or Catholics not able to fully repent can and do participate in spirit, and why that is the safest thing for them.

    One of the things that the light said about Communion is that individual Catholics can take Communion “for” those who are not able to fully participate themselves, but are striving for it with imperfect understanding and intent. Since Quinn clearly qualifies on the-striving-for-it basis if one takes her first statements about it at face value, it would be wise for believers to pray for her and ask to take Communion for her. She has placed herself somewhat unknowingly but with a valid intent in a dangerous position, half in and half out of the Kingdom, and it should surely be the act of a Christian to hold open the channel of grace to help her deal with what she has begun. It will end in either her rejection of the grace and the shutting of a door, which is of course a much greater barrier to union with That Which Is than simple disbelief, or a process of approaching a fuller understanding and acceptance of grace and act.

    But she did do something, it has a real effect, and the effect was not to insult Catholics, but to place her halfway up a cliff, forced to climb to the top or get confused and jump off into the abyss.

  • Linda in California

    Dear Anchoress,
    I am quite appalled to read this discussion.

    The Eucharist is probably the number shared doctrine, among those who call themselves Christian. Until I read this posting, it never entered my head that Catholics thought, that a non-catholic believer is committing SACRILEDGE by partaking of this shared ritual.

    There are MANY issues where we do not agree, but I thought we had this one down. Whoops guess not.

    In any Evangelical Church I have ever attended, you would be quite welcome to receive communion. Of course, we always: repeat Paul’s caution that many of you are sick and some have even died, because you have partaken unworthily. (Paraphrased) Neither do we feel the need to “whip out the cat-o-nine-tails” and drive that sinner out of the church. The very witness of Paul, (that I just quoted) allows us to know that the Holy Spirit is quite capable of handling things. Therefore, we have not put ourselves in the position of having to “mind read,” or “judge a person’s heart,” which of course no one can do.

    Of course, if I saw some one, deliberately and openly committing desecration or sacrilege, I would tend to be very militant. When situation is at the very least ambiguous I would hold my tongue. I don’t have any idea of what unexpressed thoughts and experiences have been brought into any act of worship.

    I thought Ms Quinn’s expression of her intent a little vague, and a lot confused, but NOT disrespectful.

  • cathyf

    Another aspect… Receiving Communion is the central act by which one becomes Catholic. Imagine that someone, not Christian, decided that he needed a bath. It was convenient for him to go down to the local Baptist church and answer an altar call and be baptized. Then afterwards he made defensive noises about if Jesus were there he would have welcomed him into the tub, but of course all that stuff about Jesus being God and dying to redeem humanity is a bunch of hogwash.

    People understand enough about baptism to understand that this is offensive not just to Christians, but, heck, it’s also offensive to all those Jews who had their property confiscated, or resisted torture, or were killed by the Inquisition — look, people died rather than make a fake conversion to Christianity! And here is this silly little flake who has performed the act of converting to Catholicism when she obviously has not the foggiest clue as to what she has done.

    (Of course there is imagining being the fly on the wall when it is explained to Ms. Quinn, “Congratulations, hon, you just converted to Catholicism — here are your envelopes — see ya’ next Sunday!”)

  • Gayle Miller

    “The Eucharist is probably the number shared doctrine, among those who call themselves Christian. Until I read this posting, it never entered my head that Catholics thought, that a non-catholic believer is committing SACRILEDGE by partaking of this shared ritual.”

    Other Christian faiths receive communion in a wholly and distinct way from Catholics. Catholics believe (know) that the host and the wine are the ACTUAL body and blood of Jesus Christ. It is a Catholic sacrament and to receive a Catholic sacrament you have to BE a Catholic. The only exception would be the marriage of a Catholic and a non-Catholic.

  • cathyf

    Linda is simply wrong, the Eucharist is at ground zero of the theological conflicts between Catholic and Orthodox on one side and Protestants on the other.

    On the other hand, Baptism according to the trinitarian formula (“I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”) is the sacrament which all Christians have in common.

  • TheAnchoress

    I am surprised to hear anyone claiming surprise at this notion…it’s not like it’s been a secret that non-Catholics are asked to refrain from receiving communion, in fact it seems to me it is all-too well known and often resented by non-Catholics who’ve not had it really explained to them. Check this out.

  • Linda in California

    Hey… I am really sorry to disappoint you but I make it a practice to not worry about what Catholics think or believe. (I would not deliberately violate any thing I know about.) I think, the self-importantance, and self- righteousness illustrated here, and at other blogs, which are written by Catholics, is not any more than an institutionalized arrogance. Of course it is your blog and you can be as dogmatic and arrogant as you wish. Please don’t expect the rest of us, (who refuse to drink the Catholic Kool-Aid, no pun intended) to know all your doctrinal rules. I normally don’t even get involved when, I read about the doctrinal debates. I disagree with you so strongly on the big things, (idol worship, papal dictates being divine,) and so on, that your theological discussions are (to me) a simple curiosity. I only got into this discussion because I was so incensed at the over top bloviating.

    YOU are the one that is wrong. All Christians recognize that this was a simple commandment issued by our Lord and later confirmed and clarified by Paul (the original one). We can argue, at another time, about this simple ritual. ALL religions that I have seen agree: the Communion Service should only be accepted at an of age accountability and after certain doctrinal knowledge. We might disagree on the sub points under those categories, but we agree on the main points.

    Baptism is a much more controversial issue than Communion. There is a profound disagreement on the method, timing and meaning, of being baptized.

  • TheAnchoress

    Hey, Linda – I’m sorry to read that you find the site arrogant and self-righteous. I am surprised at that because I thought I worked pretty hard to find a charitable way to understand Quinn’s thoughts and actions. I try very hard to make everyone welcome here, and I go out of my way to try to answer questions about the things that separate us Christians from each other – as far as I understand them – and to ask questions of Protestants and Evangelicals,too, so that I may better understand. I have probably as many non-Catholic Christian readers as I do Catholic readers, and we all tend to get along pretty well.

    By no means do I ever expect anyone to “drink the Catholic Koo-Aid” (I’m must be missing the pun). As to the “idol worship and papal dictates being divine,” well…you’re wrong about both of those things, so perhaps your information on Catholicism has not been as reliable as you think. Which is okay, lots of Catholics don’t know what they think they know, either (nor do I) but I do have a “questions about Catholicism” category, which addresses questions that have come up over the course of the blog’s existence. And Catholic Answers is in my blogroll, along with other good Catholic sites, so, if you do have questions, and you find me arrogant and unwelcoming, you may like one of those sites better. Best to you!

  • Jeanette

    I am not a Catholic, but I am the first person in my family not baptized Catholic, so many of my family are still Catholic.

    While attending funerals of loved ones and friends (including my mother) I have never even thought to stand in the communion line at a Catholic church.

    I have not been schooled in the Catholic ways and take communion in my own church and do so reverently and feel a wonderful peace afterward even if it is Wonder rread and grape juice! ;)

  • KIA

    I always find it so interesting that these “inclusive, what about me; why not me” debates NEVER include the sacarmamet of confession, also “right out of Scripture”, INTENDED for all of God’s children.

  • Linda in California

    Whoops, coming back a day or two later and re-reading my posts, I find I was a lot more hostile and disrespectful than I really meant to be. I really do apologize for that.

    I do remember as a young girl, baby sitting for a Catholic couple, I was really excited, thinking that they must have a different Bible than the King James I was used to reading. I was astounded, it was the same Bible! I mean I looked up some scriptures (thou shalt not make any graven image) and (do not use vain saying as the heathen do) I have to tell you I was disappointed, I thought I was doing something deliciously sinful, reading a different Bible.

    For years most of my knowledge of Catholicism was high-profile people (Kennedy, Kerry etc). Then I met a dear friend, who was a devout Catholic. I loved and respected her, but we never discussed her beliefs. I heard Laura Ingram and Larry Kudlow, and began to read your blog. Having said all of that, I just have to tell you, I cannot force my self to be even mildly curious, about Catholicism. That’s why I never knew any of your taboos.

  • TheAnchoress

    Thanks, Linda. Glad you came back.

    We don’t call them “taboos,” actually. Truthfully, this stuff has all be thrashed out, argued, thought-through, debated and prayed about for many years, as you can see both in scripture and in the writings of the early church, and the early councils. You mentioned, for instance, “worshipping idols”, which I often get asked about by Evangelicals. Statues and pictures are nothing more than remembrances – just like the pictures of beloved family members we all keep in our homes – and focal points for meditation. We do not pray to statues or images. We pray to the Triune God, or we ask Saints to pray TO God, FOR us (in the Communion of Saints), we ask Mary to pray FOR us. Just as you or I might ask a friend here on earth to pray for us, we just ask the same of the folks already in heaven too, since, they’re up there, anyway! :-)

    As to “papal pronouncements being divine.” We don’t believe that. It is a very common misconception, particularly among our Evangelical friends, that “papal infallibility” means we Catholics think every word that comes out of the mouth of the pope is “divine” and inerrant. It’s not true. In fact, most Catholics, while honoring the pope, do not take the time to even read his encyclicals (pastoral letters and teachings) which is why they are often misunderstood.

    Papal “infallibility” is only relevant to those times when the pope is speaking Ex Cathedra (“from the Chair of Peter as Bishop of Rome”) and those are extremely rare occurances having to do with specific and definitive teaching. Even Paul VI’s Humanea Vitea (which many, including myself, find prophetic and which some believe SHOULD have been spoken ex cathedra), is not considered “infallible.”

    But it’s never been my job to convert people. I’m content to just answer questions when they’re asked and defend (in my inartful way) spurious charges that sometimes come my way.