A priest distributing communion (stock)

Warsaw parish, archdiocese forced to apologise for priest withholding communion from moderate Catholic presidential candidate

A parish and the archdiocese of Warsaw have been forced to apologise after a priest withheld communion from a moderate Catholic presidential candidate.

Driving the news

Szymon Hołownia, a Polish journalist and TV presenter running in this year’s presidential election, denounced that he was denied the Eucharist at a recent Mass, as Notes from Poland reports.

The devout Catholic told of how in the communion line the priest “turned his back” on him, proceeding instead to distribute the Host to other congregants and saying: “Conscience does not allow [me] to do so [give you communion]. Because of the views you are preaching”.

Go deeper

Hołownia is yet to nail down a precise presidential agenda, preferring instead to wait to hear citizens’ feedback in townhall meetings.

But in announcing his independent candidature in December, he presented himself as “a man who – coming from the bottom – can repair what was destroyed from above”.

“I want a president who will (…) unite divided people”, the journalist declared, adding Poland can only be fixed by “somebody from the outside”.

Hołownia – who is currently polling in third place in election surveys, with around a 10% estimated vote – has since voiced support for “a friendly separation of Church and State”, as well as for Poland’s current abortion law, which has been fiercely criticised by Catholics and right-wing activists.

Why it matters

The Warsaw priest who denied Hołownia communion ended up giving the communicant the sacrament, but only after Hołownia confronted the cleric on his ignorance of his conscience and inner motivations.

The journalist nonetheless said the traumatic experience had been formative for him, in the sense that it allowed him “to understand those that are excluded from the Church”.

“I am sure that the priest had good intentions”, the TV presenter admitted.

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“He probably wanted to protect the Church, Jesus, and values that are close to him (…).

“The question is, whether he should do it without even a conversation with the person that he is publicly excluding from the community”.

For the record

That argument appeared to be convincing to the Warsaw archdiocese, which through a spokesperson apologised to Hołownia, admitted the priest had “broken Church rules” and said “the issue will be resolved”.

The apology from the archdiocese was followed up by a statement from the parish in which the incident took place, voicing “regret” for a situation which “should not have taken place”.

The priest who denied Hołownia the sacrament has since been reprimanded and reminded of Church discipline on giving communion, the parish statement added.

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Cameron Doody

Director and editor at Novena
PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. Lecturer in ethics at Loyola University Maryland, Alcalá de Henares (Spain) campus. Religion journalist with 4 years experience.
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