Communicatio In Sacris Facts, Definition and Meaning, Catholic Teaching, Vatican II and Divine Law

  1. Communicatio in Sacris - Latin for, Communion in the Sacred, or more properly, Communion in Sacred things.

  2. Communicatio in Sacris cum acatholicus - Latin for, Worship (or Communion) in Sacred things with non-Catholics.

  3. Communicatio in Divinis - Latin for Communion in the Divine.

Communicatio In Sacris, or Communion In Sacred things with Heretics

The traditional Catholic Church's teaching which forbids a man to receive the Catholic sacraments of The Holy Eucharist, Penance, Confirmation, Extreme Unction, Matrimony and Holy Orders from all heretical priests—as well as Her teaching that all sacramental communion with known heretics, schismatics or apostates, whether they be priests or laymen, is sinful—is based directly on the Holy Bible derived from the divine law, and was preached from the very start of the Church by the Holy Apostles.

Titus 3:10-11 “A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, avoid: Knowing that he, that is such an one, is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned by his own judgment.”

If we find out that someone is a heretic, Holy Scripture makes it crystal clear that we must avoid him, except for the purpose of converting him to the true Faith. Douay Rheims Bible Commentary explains that the words “By his own judgment” means that “Other offenders are judged, and cast out of the church, by the sentence of the pastors of the same church. Heretics, more unhappy, run out of the church of their own accord, and by doing so, give judgment and sentence against their own souls.” Therefore, “If any man come to you and bring not this doctrine, do not receive him into the house nor say to him: "God speed you." For, he who says to him "God speed you" communicates with his wicked works.” (2nd John 1:10-11) This verse of St. John the Apostle also makes it clear that everyone, whether priest or layman, have a right and indeed a duty, to judge between whether a man is a heretic or not.

Contrary to what many claim today, we see that the Holy Bible not only tells us to not commune sacramentally with heretics, but that we “communicates with his wicked works” if we would dare to enter into religious communion with him, or receive the sacraments from them. Thus, if we would like to receive the sacraments, we are obligated to know that the priest we receive them from is a Catholic, seeing that otherwise we “communicates with his wicked works”. So important was this doctrine of separation from the ungodly that the Holy Bible over and over repeats this truth.

2nd Thessalonians 3:6 “We charge you, brethren, in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother walking disorderly and not according to the tradition received from us. And, if any man does not obey, note that man, and do not keep company with him.”

From the very start of the Church, various heretics and heretical sects tried to lure people away from the true Faith, and because of this, Our Lord Jesus Christ also inspired the authors of the Bible to repeatedly write about the importance of this doctrine.

Romans 16:17:20 “Now I beseech you, brethren, to mark them who make dissensions and offences contrary to the doctrine which you have learned, and avoid them. For they that are such, serve not Christ our Lord, but their own belly; and by pleasing speeches and good words, seduce the hearts of the innocent. For your obedience is published in every place. I rejoice therefore in you. But I would have you to be wise in good, and simple in evil. And the God of peace crush Satan under your feet speedily. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”

St. Paul here gives some good reasons why Catholics must avoid non-Catholics. Following the devil's temptations as well as their own pride, all heretics fool themselves into believing that they have found out the “true” meaning of the Christian Faith long after the Church was founded and begun by Apostolic Succession after the resurrection of Our Lord. Heresy as a crime is mainly a sin of pride, and as a result, these people will also cause “dissensions and offences contrary to the doctrine which you have learned [from the Apostles]” which could harm an untold number of souls. “For they that are such, serve not Christ our Lord, but their own belly; and by pleasing speeches and good words, seduce the hearts of the innocent.”

The greatest reason why the Church have always condemned receiving the sacraments from heretics or being in communion with them is that in very many cases, the heretic will corrupt the life and faith of the Christian. St. Paul speaks at length of this in his letters in the Holy Bible: “Be not seduced: Evil communications corrupt good manners. Awake, ye just, and sin not. For some have not the knowledge of God, I speak it to your shame. (1st Corinthians 15:33-34) If we want to save our own soul from the eternal hellfire, we cannot allow human friendships and family to corrupt our faith. If we receive the sacraments from or commune with heretics, the result is very often that we will become like them: “He that walketh with the wise, shall be wise: a friend of fools shall become like to them.” (Proverbs 13:20)

Another great reason why the Church condemns sacramental communion with heretics or schismatics is that we, by this act, shows externally to them that they are fine where they are, thus confirming them in their mortal sin. Because heretics and schismatics would conclude that a Catholic who worshipped with them approved of their errors or rebellion, the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith warned in 1729:

“When they see Catholics go to their [heretical and schismatical] churches, assist at their rites, and participate in their sacraments, should not one believe (or at least fear) that from this fact alone they would be more greatly confirmed in their errors, and also be persuaded by this example that they are walking the straight path to salvation?

“From this it follows that it is most difficult to avoid the danger of pernicious scandal to heretics and schismatics themselves. Wherefore, a Catholic cannot be safe in his conscience if he worships together with them this way.” (SC de Prop. Fide, Instruction (Pro Mission. Orient.), 1729, Fontes 7:4505)

Reason itself dictates that this may never be done. “Let no man deceive you with vain words. For because of these things cometh the anger of God upon the children of unbelief. Be ye not therefore partakers with them. For you were heretofore darkness, but now light in the Lord. Walk then as children of the light. For the fruit of the light is in all goodness, and justice, and truth; Proving what is well pleasing to God: And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For the things that are done by them in secret, it is a shame even to speak of. But all things that are reproved, are made manifest by the light; for all that is made manifest is light. Wherefore he saith: Rise thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead: and Christ shall enlighten thee. See therefore, brethren, how you walk circumspectly: not as unwise...” (Ephesians 5:6-15)

Thus, contrary to the many heretics who nowadays teach that one may be in communion with heretics, St. Paul tells us through the power of the Holy Spirit that we are to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” We must thus do all in our power to reprove them, and must abstain from every act that could be taken by others to mean that we are in communion with heretics. “I will not communicate with the choicest of them... Depart from me, ye malignant ones!” (Psalm 140:4; 118:115)

Pope Pius XI, Mortalium Animos, #9, Jan. 6, 1928: “Everyone knows that John himself, the Apostle of love, who seems to reveal in his Gospel the secrets of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and who never ceased to impress on the memories of his followers the new commandment ‘Love one another,’ altogether forbade any intercourse with those who professed a mutilated and corrupt form of Christ’s teaching: ‘If any man come to you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into the house nor say to him: God speed you’ (II John 10).”

From the very beginning of the Church's councils, the biblical truth that true Christians (that is, Catholics) could not partake in the “holy” rites of heretics, Jews or infidels, nor receive the sacraments from them (even though their sacraments are valid) has always been affirmed.

III Council of Constantinople, 680-681:If any ecclesiastic or layman shall go into the synagogue of the Jews or the meetinghouses of the heretics to join in prayer with them, let them be deposed and deprived of communion [excommunicated]. If any bishop or priest or deacon shall join in prayer with heretics, let him be suspended from communion.”

Here we see that the Church teaches that not only are we forbidden to commune sacramentally with a heretic or a Jew, but that we may not even go into their houses “to join in prayer with them”. A man or even a “bishop or priest or deacon” who disobeyed this biblical truth was to be immediately excommunicated from the Church according to the Church's infallible teaching.

Pope Vigilius, Second Council of Constantinople, 553, ex cathedra: “The heretic, even though he has not been condemned formally by any individual, in reality brings anathema on himself, having cut himself off from the way of truth by his heresy. What reply can such people make to the Apostle when he writes: As for someone who is factious, after admonishing him once or twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is perverted and sinful; he is self-condemned (Titus 3:10).”

Pope Vigilius makes it clear that Catholics may not even communicate sacramentally with undeclared heretics, since all heretics are automatically excommunicated. This means that we may never enter the “Churches” of heretics, worship with them, or receive the sacraments from them. A Catholic who receives the Holy Eucharist and Penance from any heretic thus sins mortally, for he disobeys the Law of the Church and God while doing so, and it does not matter whether the heretic is declared or undeclared, formally excommunicated or automatically excommunicated as a heretic as we can see from the infallible teaching of Pope Vigilius in the Second Council of Constantinople.

1917 Code of Canon Law, Canon 1258.1: “It is unlawful for the faithful to assist in any active manner, or to take part in the sacred services of non-Catholics.”

A Catholic actively assists at a traditional Mass by his presence when it is celebrated. This is a true form of active assistance or participation, and according to Catholic teaching constitutes “cooperation or common action with another in the prayers and functions of worship.”

As explained by Rev. Szal in his book Communication of Catholics with Schismatics, on Dec. 5, 1668, the Holy Office ordered a bishop to instruct his people not to go to Mass or other Divine offices in the churches of schismatics or heretics, and to warn them that THEY WERE NOT BOUND BY THE PRECEPT OF HEARING MASS WHEN THERE WAS NO CELEBRATION OF A CATHOLIC MASS, which means that if there is no Catholic Mass available (a Catholic rite said by a Catholic priest), 1) one cannot attend a non-Catholic Mass, and 2) one is not held to the precept of hearing Holy Mass. To fulfill your Sunday obligation or obtain sacramental graces at Mass requires active assistance or participation. This is an all-or-nothing proposition. You either actively assist or you don’t.

Participation in Heretical and Schismatic Worship in General

In order to adequately address this topic, we must first consider the question of engaging in schismatic and heretical worship in general. We can then consider questions of participation in schismatic and heretical worship in particular. The discussion of participation in schismatic and heretical worship is rather detailed in the documents of the Holy Office from the period of the seventeenth century onwards. The Holy Office addresses schismatic and heretical worship by the term of communicatio in divinis, which later is changed into the phrase communicatio in sacris. The terms historically meant that those who worship together communicate in divine things, hence communicatio in divinis or in sacred things, whence communicatio in sacris. As for communicatio in divinis with schismatics and heretics, the Holy Office states that it is "constantly and uniformly forbidden." (Collectanea S. Congregationis de Propaganda Fidei seu Decreta Instructiones Rescripta pro Apostolicis Missionibus (Ex Typographia Polyglotta, Roma, 1907), vol. I, p. 99, n. 311 (1729) and Col., vol. I, p. 293, n. 455 (1764). Henceforth, the Collectanea will be referred to as: Col., volume, page, number (date))

The Holy Office was principally dealing with questions sent by those working in mission territories where there may not be Catholic priests or where the non-Catholics tended to dominate demographically. Yet, the Holy Office declared that even if one cannot find a Catholic priest, one cannot participate in schismatic worship, (Col., vol. I, p. 91, n. 267 (1704)) even if it is a Catholic rite. (Col., vol. I, p. 91, n. 267 (1704)) Here the question, as far as the Holy Office was concerned, is not whether the worship is Catholic, but whether one can join with schismatics or not. Historically there have been occasions where Catholics find themselves in locations where there was no Catholic priest, but the schismatics who were present offered the same ritual as was offered by the Greek Catholics and now today by the Roman Catholics. The Holy Office went on to say that Greek Rite Catholics, when they do not have their own church, cannot go to the Greek rites said by heretics and schismatics, but they should go to the Latin rite. (Col., vol. I, p. 231, n. 389, ad 2 (1753)) Therefore, if the rite to which a Catholic belongs is not offered in his area, he is to assist at a different rite said by a Catholic priest. If there is no Catholic Mass available [a Catholic rite said by a Catholic priest], one is not held to the precept of hearing Holy Mass. One cannot attend a non-Catholic Mass. (Col., vol. I, p. 54, n. 171 (1668)) In connection to this discussion, the Holy Office stated that Catholics were forbidden to approach schismatic churches, when there is no Catholic Mass, in order to hear Mass, even if there is nothing contrary to the Faith. (Col., vol. I, p. 54, n. 171 (1668) and Col., vol. I, p. 91, n. 267, 1 (1704)) When there is no Catholic priest available, they are not held to the precept of hearing Mass. In relation to Greek Catholics, the Holy Office was wont to observe that they should attend a Latin rite Church, if available, and the same would apply to Latins. This would follow since Catholics must avoid all communicatio in sacris with schismatics and heretics. (See Col., vol. II, p. 233, n. 1696, 7 (1888)) Catholics were forbidden to give alms at a Mass offered by a schismatic priest, (Col., vol. I, p. 371, n. 600, 2 (1789)) since this would be a form of support of false worship and confirming the schismatic priest in his error by financial support.

Furthermore, one cannot participate in schismatic prayer, even if there is nothing contrary to the Faith. (Col., vol. I, p. 91, n. 267 (1704)) Again, the Holy Office said that it is not so much a matter of whether the prayer contains anything objectionable to the Faith, but the very fact that one participates with schismatics. For this reason the Holy Office said that by participating [in schismatic and heretical worship], Catholics give exterior signs of segregation [from] and disapproval (Col., vol. I, p. 100, n. 311 (1729)) [of the Catholic Church] by unifying themselves with those who disapprove or segregate themselves from the Catholic Church, since participation in liturgical actions constitutes a sign of unity. (Col., vol. I, p. 642, n. 1176 (1859)) By coming together with them in unity of prayer, in unity of cult, in unity of veneration and worship, one does so with perverse[*] schismatic and heretical ministers. (Col., vol. I, p. 100, n. 311 (1729)) In effect, the Holy Office was saying that it is by the very coming together with those who reject the Faith and joining one's prayer and worship to them that one is participating in worship which is done by those who reject the Catholic Church. To participate with those who reject the faith is therefore forbidden.

[*] Here, the term perverse does not necessarily refer to the Sixth and Ninth Commandments as it tends to in modern English parlance. Rather, it is a broader nomination.

With heretics, there are errors pertaining to matters of the Faith, (Col., vol. I, p. 100, n. 311 (1729)) and given the aforementioned considerations regarding schismatic worship, the Holy Office stated that participation in schismatic and heretical worship is forbidden for the following reasons. First, there is a danger of perversion of the Catholic Faith, (Col., vol. I, p. 99, n. 311 (1729) and Col., vol. I, p. 642, n. 1176 (1859) i.e. there is a danger of the loss of Catholic Faith. (The CIC/17 (can. 2316) also observes that those who participate in schismatic and heretical worship are suspect of heresy.) This indicates the implicit obligation to protect one's faith. Second, there is the very danger of participating in a heretical or schismatic rite, (Col., vol. I, p. 99, n. 311 (1729)) for the above mentioned reasons, i.e. the very participation manifests a sign of disunity from the Church by being united in worship with those not united to the Church. Third, participation in heretical or schismatic worship is a danger and occasion of scandal. (Col., vol. I, p. 99, n. 311 (1729); Col., vol. I, p. 231, n. 389 (1753) and Col., vol. I, p. 642, n. 1176 (1859)) By scandal, the Holy Office meant that participation in schismatic and heretical worship can affect the Faith of others who see Catholics involved in such worship. Fourth, in schismatic churches there is the commemoration of some schismatics who are venerated as holy; there are images, cult of relics or feasts that are celebrated of those who died in schism as well as the commemoration of living patriarchs or schismatic bishops and heretics. (Col., vol. I, p. 100, n. 311 (1729)) Fifth, by participating in their worship, one confirms schismatics and heretics in their errors. (Col., vol. I, p. 100, n. 311 (1729))

The Holy Office therefore observed that the Council of Carthage forbade praying and singing (psallendum) with heretics. (Col., vol. I, p. 642, n. 1176 (1859)) The Supreme Congregation stated that participation in schismatic and heretic worship is "universally prohibited by natural and divine law...[from which] no one has the power to dispense ...[and with respect to this participation] nothing excuses." (Col., vol. I, p. 100, n. 311 (1729)) Those who so participate must seek absolution in the sacrament of penance. (Col., vol. I, p. 100, n. 311 (1729))

Brief against heretics

2 John 1:9-10: “Whosoever revolteth, and continueth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that continueth in the doctrine, the same hath both the Father and the Son. If any man come to you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into the house nor say to him, God speed you. For he that saith unto him, God speed you, communicateth with his wicked works.”

This bible verse makes it crystal clear that those who have dealings with heretics or schismatics, “communicateth with his wicked works.” This means that those who have dealings with heretics have a part of and share in their sins.

Pope Leo X against heretics

Catholics are explicitly forbidden to knowingly pray in communion with notorious or known heretics or receive the sacraments from them as Pope Leo X makes perfectly clear:

Pope Leo X, Fifth Lateran Council, Session 8, ex cathedra: "And since truth cannot contradict truth, we define that every statement contrary to the enlightened truth of the faith is totally false and we strictly forbid teaching otherwise to be permitted. We decree that all those who cling to erroneous statements of this kind, thus sowing heresies which are wholly condemned, should be avoided in every way and punished as detestable and odious heretics and infidels who are undermining the Catholic faith."

So, the Pope just said infallibly that all heretics should be avoided in every way (that has to do with religious communion and other unnecessary dealings with them). Note that you can only know that someone is a heretic if you yourself have obtained this knowledge of the person in question. Thus, if you know your priest to be a heretic, you are obliged to avoid him in every way, and may not approach him for the sacraments.

Paul IV and Pope Paul V against heretics

Pope Paul V (1552-1621), repeating his predecessors' interdict [of Pope Paul IV (1476-1559)]: “Great has been the grief of our mind for the tribulations and calamities ye have constantly undergone for your adherence to the Catholic faith; and as we understand that these trials are become more severe at present, our affliction is increased exceedingly. For we are informed that ye are compelled, under the most grievous penalties, to go to the churches of heretics, to frequent their meetings, and be present at their sermons. Indeed we are fully persuaded that ye who, with so much fortitude and constancy, have hither-to undergone almost infinite miseries, that ye might walk without stain in the law of the Lord, will never consent to be defiled by communicating with those who have forsaken the Divine law. Nevertheless, urged by the zeal of our pastoral duty, and from paternal solicitude with which we daily labour for the salvation of your souls, we are forced to admonish and conjure you, that ON NO ACCOUNT YOU GO TO THE CHURCHES OF HERETICS, OR HEAR THEIR SERMONS, OR JOIN IN THEIR RITES, LEST YE INCUR THE WRATH OF GOD; FOR IT IS NOT LAWFUL FOR YOU TO DO SUCH THINGS, WITHOUT DISHONOURING GOD, AND HURTING YOUR OWN SOULS.” (Quoted in Bp. George Hay's, "The Sincere Christian". [Pope Paul V repeated his predecessors' interdict of Pope Paul IV, on September 22nd, 1606 A.D. in his brief Romani Pontificis, contra juramentum Fidelitatis – The Roman Pontiff, against the Alligence.])

DID YOU HEAR THAT? “ON NO ACCOUNT YOU GO TO THE CHURCHES OF HERETICS, OR HEAR THEIR SERMONS, OR JOIN IN THEIR RITES, LEST YE INCUR THE WRATH OF GOD; FOR IT IS NOT LAWFUL FOR YOU TO DO SUCH THINGS, WITHOUT DISHONOURING GOD, AND HURTING YOUR OWN SOULS.”

Pope Pius IX against heretics

Pope Pius IX, "Graves Ac Diuturnae," 1875, (# 4): "You should remind them to beware of these treacherous enemies of the flock of Christ and their poisoned foods. THEY SHOULD TOTALLY SHUN THEIR RELIGIOUS CELEBRATIONS, THEIR BUILDINGS, AND THEIR CHAIRS OF PESTILENCE WHICH THEY HAVE WITH IMPUNITY ESTABLISHED TO TRANSMIT THE SACRED TEACHINGS. THEY SHOULD SHUN THEIR WRITINGS AND ALL CONTACT WITH THEM. THEY SHOULD NOT HAVE ANY DEALINGS OR MEETINGS WITH USURPING PRIESTS AND APOSTATES FROM THE FAITH who dare to exercise the duties of an ecclesiastical minister without possessing a legitimate mission or any jurisdiction. They should avoid them as strangers and thieves who come only to steal, slay, and destroy. For the Church's children should consider the proper action to preserve the most precious treasure of faith, without which it is impossible to please God, as well as action calculated to achieve the goal of faith, that is the salvation of their souls, by following the straight road of justice."

Can it be any clearer than that? We “SHOULD NOT HAVE ANY DEALINGS OR MEETINGS WITH USURPING PRIESTS AND APOSTATES FROM THE FAITH who dare to exercise the duties of an ecclesiastical minister without possessing a legitimate mission or any jurisdiction…” we “should avoid them as strangers and thieves who come only to steal, slay, and destroy.” and “THEY SHOULD TOTALLY SHUN THEIR RELIGIOUS CELEBRATIONS, THEIR BUILDINGS, AND THEIR CHAIRS OF PESTILENCE WHICH THEY HAVE WITH IMPUNITY ESTABLISHED TO TRANSMIT THE SACRED TEACHINGS. THEY SHOULD SHUN THEIR WRITINGS AND ALL CONTACT WITH THEM”

This evidence should be enough for anyone who is not suffering from the mortal illness of bad will and pride. If you have fallen for this heresy, we pray with tears that God may lead you out of this outrageous and scandalous position which has forced you to profess external communion with the most abominable, apostate, heretical or schismatical priests and laymen that may ever have lived!

Please read this section on Catholics who had no access to Catholic priests and avoided non-Catholic priests (link to section);

Please read this article on the question of receiving forgiveness of one's sins without an absolution from a priest in today's apostasy (link to section);

Please read our main article against receiving the sacraments from heretics and prayer in communion with heretics (link to section);

Please also read the article THE AMAZING LIES, HERESIES AND CONTRADICTIONS OF PETER DIMOND CAUGHT ON TAPE EXPOSED (link to section)

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