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Frequently Asked Questions
regarding
THE CATHOLIC SACRAMENTS,
A RIGHT OR AN OBLIGATION.


Q. 1. When it concerns the Church Sacraments, are they a right that can never be denied to a believer? Also, does the believer have an obligation to receive the Sacraments? Where is the fine line between being obligated to receive the Sacraments versus they being denied to the believer?

A. 1. On the subject of the Sacraments in the Catholic Church, it is not a matter of a right or an obligation. Catholics, in order to cooperate in the building up of the Body of Christ, are bound by both, to receive the Sacred Sacraments of the Church as a right and as an obligation before God, towards the Church, in their fellowship, and as a personal obligation in order to inherit the promised Kingdom of God.

The Church Canon Laws has an entire section on the matter as follows:

"THE OBLIGATIONS AND RIGHTS OF ALL THE CHRISTIAN FAITHFUL (Cann. 208 - 223)"

"Can. 208 From their rebirth in Christ, there exists among all the Christian faithful a true equality regarding dignity and action by which they all cooperate in the building up of the Body of Christ according to each one’s own condition and function.

Can. 209 §1. The Christian faithful, even in their own manner of acting, are always obliged to maintain communion with the Church.

§2. With great diligence they are to fulfill the duties which they owe to the universal Church and the particular church to which they belong according to the prescripts of the law.

Can. 210 All the Christian faithful must direct their efforts to lead a holy life and to promote the growth of the Church and its continual sanctification, according to their own condition.

Can. 211 All the Christian faithful have the duty and right to work so that the divine message of salvation more and more reaches all people in every age and in every land.

Can. 212 §1. Conscious of their own responsibility, the Christian faithful are bound to follow with Christian obedience those things which the sacred pastors, inasmuch as they represent Christ, declare as teachers of the faith or establish as rulers of the Church.

§2. The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.

§3. According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.

Can. 213 The Christian faithful have the right to receive assistance from the sacred pastors out of the spiritual goods of the Church, especially the word of God and the sacraments.

Can. 214 The Christian faithful have the right to worship God according to the prescripts of their own rite approved by the legitimate pastors of the Church and to follow their own form of spiritual life so long as it is consonant with the doctrine of the Church.

Can. 215 The Christian faithful are at liberty freely to found and direct associations for purposes of charity or piety or for the promotion of the Christian vocation in the world and to hold meetings for the common pursuit of these purposes.

Can. 216 Since they participate in the mission of the Church, all the Christian faithful have the right to promote or sustain apostolic action even by their own undertakings, according to their own state and condition. Nevertheless, no undertaking is to claim the name Catholic without the consent of competent ecclesiastical authority.

Can. 217 Since they are called by baptism to lead a life in keeping with the teaching of the gospel, the Christian faithful have the right to a Christian education by which they are to be instructed properly to strive for the maturity of the human person and at the same time to know and live the mystery of salvation.

Can. 218 Those engaged in the sacred disciplines have a just freedom of inquiry and of expressing their opinion prudently on those matters in which they possess expertise, while observing the submission due to the magisterium of the Church.

Can. 219 All the Christian faithful have the right to be free from any kind of coercion in choosing a state of life.

Can. 220 No one is permitted to harm illegitimately the good reputation which a person possesses nor to injure the right of any person to protect his or her own privacy.

Can. 221 §1. The Christian faithful can legitimately vindicate and defend the rights which they possess in the Church in the competent ecclesiastical forum according to the norm of law.

§2. If they are summoned to a trial by a competent authority, the Christian faithful also have the right to be judged according to the prescripts of the law applied with equity.

§3. The Christian faithful have the right not to be punished with canonical penalties except according to the norm of law.

Can. 222 §1. The Christian faithful are obliged to assist with the needs of the Church so that the Church has what is necessary for divine worship, for the works of the apostolate and of charity, and for the decent support of ministers.

§2. They are also obliged to promote social justice and, mindful of the precept of the Lord, to assist the poor from their own resources.

Can. 223 §1. In exercising their rights, the Christian faithful, both as individuals and gathered together in associations, must take into account the common good of the Church, the rights of others, and their own duties toward others.

§2. In view of the common good, ecclesiastical authority can direct the exercise of rights which are proper to the Christian faithful."


Conclusion:

Having mentioned the above, it should be noted that while all believers have many rights under the Code of Canon Law, such rights can be denied under certain circumstances. For example, if a Catholic promotes heresies, he can be denied the Sacraments. He/she who facilitate an abortion, they inherit an automatic excommunication and as such they will be denied the Sacraments until such time as they remedy the situation. Those living in common-law relationships, they can be denied the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist until such time as they separate and live a chaste life. As in everything else in life, there are exceptions to the rules.

Adam and Eve had a right to eternal life in the Garden of Eve. They also had an obligation not to eat the fruit from a certain tree. When they disobeyed God, they lost their right. A right is good only as long as you maintain a state of grace before God.



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