FRESNO, Calif. (ChurchMilitant.com) - Despite requests from a Knights of Columbus Council, a pastor in California is not retracting his offer of the Holy Eucharist to "couples that are not usually able to receive Communion" according to Church teaching.
In a letter copied to the bishop, Knights of Columbus Council 2384 asked Fr. John Fluetsch to publish a formal retraction for posting a scandalous entry in the June 21 parish bulletin of St. Patrick's in Merced, California — an entry in which the pastor offered Holy Communion to the "civilly divorced and civilly remarried" and "couples living together."
"On behalf of our parish, we, the Knights of Columbus," reads the request in the letter to Fr. Fluetsch, "respectfully request a formal written retraction of this announcement to be published in the bulletin and a formal verbal retraction at all masses at St. Patrick's and all parishes of the Mariposa-Merced vicariate where this scandal may be implemented."
The original June 21 bulletin entry in question reads, "Fr. John wishes to inform couples of the parish that during this COVID-19 pandemic, rules and regulations have been relaxed concerning marriage," reads the June 21 bulletin entry. "Any couples preparing for marriage, civilly divorced and now civilly remarried couples, couples living together, couples that are not usually able to receive Communion — are now permitted to receive Communion at St. Patrick's."
According to the entry, the justification for the unorthodox offering of Holy Communion "is that Canon Law and liturgical laws are being reinterpreted due to the pandemic," which allegedly "allows people who are not usually allowed to get married in the Church or receive Communion, to be welcomed at the altar."
But the Knights of Columbus letter to Fr. Fluetsch explains that his action "is a blatant profanation of the Eucharist," adding that "there are certain things that one can perhaps use canon law to justify, but when it's as deliberate as saying couples living together can receive Communion, you are essentially justifying (and implicitly condoning) mortal sin and unworthy (sacrilegious) reception of the Sacrament."
"This wrong must be corrected to protect the faithful of the Diocese of Fresno and defend the sacred integrity of the Eucharist," adds the letter.
On July 5, the Sunday bulletin included an entry titled "Revision to Fr. John's article about Communion two weeks ago," but the revision mentions nothing about Holy Communion or the June 21 entry.
After discovering the July 5 bulletin revision, which was neither an authentic revision nor a retraction, the Knights of Columbus Council then wrote directly to Bp. Joseph Brennan of the Fresno diocese:
As our letter (included) to Fr. John requesting a public retraction and correction of this dissent has not been acknowledged, and a public revision (page 4, included) was published without citing or correcting this grave matter, we, the Knights of Columbus, Council 2384, on behalf of the faithful of St. Patrick's and the entire Mariposa-Merced vicariate, appeal directly to you and implore your prompt intervention to:
• Defend Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament
• Preserve and protect the teaching of the Church in the hearts and minds of your flock
• Publicly correct this wrong
On July 12, the Sunday bulletin reprinted the July 5 entry titled "Revision to Fr. John's article about Communion two weeks ago," but without adding any additional explanation or retraction. It is unclear if Fr. Fluetsch confirms Church teaching on worthy reception of Holy Communion or if the pastor is distributing the Eucharist to couples in various irregular unions.
Neither the bishop nor Fr. Fluetsch had responded to the Knights of Columbus as of press time.