Q: At the Catholic funeral of a prominent citizen, our non-Catholic governor received holy Communion. Was this a sin for him and for the priest who gave it to him?
A: I wouldn’t make that judgment, because I don’t know the heart or the conscience of the governor or the priest.
The prevailing pastoral opinion, and one that isn’t held by everyone, is that the Communion line isn’t the place for a discussion about who should and shouldn’t receive Communion. This is a time when it’s most appropriate to presume ‘good conscience’ on everyone’s part and be at peace about it.
This answer won’t satisfy everyone, but it’s good pastoral practice.
Q: I have a belligerent brother who attacks the Church at family gatherings. I try to engage him in respectful conversation, but he ends up shouting and making everyone uncomfortable. I feel obligated to defend my faith and the Church. What should I do?
A: He’s not hurting the Church; he’s only alienating himself from everyone who must endure his childish behavior. Let him be the angry and opinionated person he is and refrain from engaging in conversation with him about these matters. What does it accomplish except to make everyone angry and uncomfortable? If you deprive him of the energy of the argument, he may learn to engage in responsible behavior.