When I am interviewed, I am always hopeful that what I’m saying is being captured accurately in the reporter’s ubiquitous notepad. Sometimes, unfortunately, I’m disappointed. Such apparently is the case with the article on page 7 of the Sept. 18 issue of The Catholic Commentator. There are more than a few inaccuracies in the text of the article – I said “conscience” and not “conscious” in the statements I made for your third-to-last paragraph, for example.

But the worst thing about the article is something I never said, and I simply must insist on clarifying that fact for your readership. A text-box supposedly highlighting a point of your article implied in part that “individuals who are married but not in the church … is (sic) eligible to receive Communion.” This is poorly-phrased and misleading.

As I tried to make clear in the interview, the only right and proper place for sexual relations is between spouses in a valid marriage. Persons who engage in other kinds of sexual activity are not doing that, and thus their actions and intentions are objectively sinful in and of themselves. Seriously sinful actions can be and often are mortal sins, that is, actions which amount to a rejection of God himself and so completely separate us from his offer of salvation. While ignorance, psychological pressures and some other circumstances may lessen the gravity of sinful behavior, personal preferences do not. It’s never correct to imply that deliberately choosing any sort of sin is okay. And those who are aware of their own mortal sin ought not to take holy Communion.

To be fair, there are invalidly-married and cohabiting persons who nonetheless strive not to engage in sexual activity at all. In so doing they are avoiding sin. Such people – traditionally identified in the church as living in a “brother-sister” relationship – may receive the Eucharist. This happens more frequently than many assume. Indeed the church challenges all single adults and adolescents, as well as those who are invalidly married, and those who experience same-sex attraction, to embrace chastity by properly choosing sexual abstinence. It often is a difficult challenge, but fidelity to the Lord’s will always includes sacrifices, of many sorts.

Thank you for this opportunity to clarify matters.

Father Paul Counce

Pastor, St. Joseph Cathedral