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Communion for special-needs child
Question from Greg on 04-21-2015:
My son is mildly autistic with an intellectual disability. As parents, we were wondering: If he does not fully understand the concept of receiving Communion, can he? I mentioned to him that he may not be able to receive Communion because I was under the understanding no one can receive without full knowledge and this greatly distressed him.
Answer by Catholic Answers on 04-23-2015:
Greg--

The reception of Communion does not depend on "full knowledge." In the Eastern churches, first Communion is given to babies. In the Latin church, all that is required is "sufficient knowledge" and accurate preparation "so that according to their capacity they understand what the mystery of Christ means, and are able to receive the body of the Lord with faith and devotion" (canon 913 §1).

Your son's reaction to the possibility of being denied Communion is itself an indicator that he is capable, to his own extent, to understand the importance of Communion and to desire to receive it with faith and devotion. I urge you to talk to your pastor about how he may be prepared to receive Communion. If your pastor is not helpful in this matter, I urge you to call your diocese and ask to speak to whoever is in charge of the diocesan outreach to Catholics with special needs.

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers


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