The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Denying communion Down Under

This happens so rarely, you can’t help but sit up and take notice.

A government official in Australia was denied communion on Christmas Eve. And, it seems, it was all a big mistake.

From the local press:

Attorney-General Rob Hulls was refused communion in a Catholic church over the State Government’s Bill to legalise abortion.


A minister assisting the priest refused to serve communion to Mr Hulls, placing his hand over the communion cup during a children’s mass, the Herald Sun has been told.

The incident happened at St Monica’s Church in Moonee Ponds on Christmas Eve.

Churchgoers said Mr Hulls walked up to the altar with his children in his arms, but was refused communion.

An embarrassing stand-off lasted more than a minute until Mr Hulls moved to a second queue, where parish priest Fr Peter Kenny gave him the sacrament.

Sources said Mr Hulls felt humiliated by the snub.

Mr Hulls voted against the abortion Bill, and his wife, Carolyn Burnside, is a pro-life lawyer.

As Attorney-General, Mr Hulls had referred the proposed legislation to the Law Reform Commission.

Last night Fr Kenny described the incident as a misunderstanding.

“Mr Hulls is here regularly. I know his children. It was my understanding that he was waiting for me to give his children a blessing, which I did.

“I had no hesitation in giving him communion.”

Comments read comments(6)
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Michael Hallman

posted December 30, 2008 at 1:45 pm

Wait, I want to make sure I’m reading this correctly: he voted against a pro-abortion bill, meaning that he voted to protect innocent life, and yet the minister (it appears it would have been an extraordinary minister and thus a layperson) denied him communion because the government passed the bill over his objection? If I am reading that correctly, that is beyond absurd, and it is an egregious abuse by the extraordinary minister, and I do hope and pray that the minister receives both an admonition as well as greater catechesis.

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posted December 30, 2008 at 11:18 pm

Michael: I did a double take when I read that this morning too. I saw the original story posted this morning somewhere else and couldn’t believe my eyes as I read it. It does seem absurd. I hope that the minister receives a correction and better catechesis too. It troubles me that an extraordinary minster is making such decisions.

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god googler

posted December 31, 2008 at 1:15 am

As a lay Eucharistic minister myself, I send apologies on behalf of all of us who serve the church in this capacity. I hope that Mr Hulls realizes that not all lay ministers are this idiotic.

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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted December 31, 2008 at 10:43 am

I think this points out, in a very obvious way, the hazards of turning ministers of the Eucharist into communion cops. And it shows the folly of attempting to deny the sacrament. Even the best of intentions can have the worst results. It should give serious pause to anyone who thinks that refusing communion, in a very public way like this, is a good idea. I wonder if the EM felt any of the humiliation that Mr. Hulls experienced. Dcn. G.

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posted December 31, 2008 at 12:30 pm

I’m starting to get active in my parish, but that’s one ministry that I really don’t feel myself worthy of doing. I could never deny anyone who came up to me for Communion. I firmly believe that a person should know the state of grace in his or her soul and should refrain from Communion if one is mortal sin. But that isn’t always the case is it? Still, I don’t believe I have a right to judge anyone.

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Chris Sullivan

posted December 31, 2008 at 11:08 pm

Amen to what Dcn Greg said.God Bless

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