“Ask a Priest: Should I Have Denied Communion to Someone Chewing Gum?”

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Q: I am a Eucharistic minister at our church. Last Sunday when I was distributing the Body of Christ, I was startled when a communicant came up to me chewing gum! All that kept running through my mind was what should I do! I did give him the host, but I am not sure I did the right thing. For future reference, how is a situation like this to be handled? I have been a Eucharistic minister for 15 years, and this is the first time something like this has happened to me. – D.F.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: This is unfortunate, though it’s not an unknown kind of event. Some Catholics have had very poor catechesis and simply don’t know what acceptable behavior is when receiving the Eucharist.

The moment of communion, however, isn’t the time to cause a scene. So it was better that you didn’t turn away the person. It could have caused a ruckus in Mass, including unnecessary scandal to other people who were prayerfully living the Eucharistic celebration.

It would be good to mention the incident to the pastor and let him decide how to proceed. He might decide to mention something in the bulletin or even in a homily.

Evangelization is often an ongoing task of educating Catholics in the most basic points of the faith, including how to prepare for communion.

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