Are Episcopalian Sunday services valid for Catholics?

Our new priest to our parish has said that receiving bread at an Episcopalian Sunday service is not valid for Catholics. I thought that if no other Catholic church was near our home that this was allowed. He said that only attending an Eastern Orthodox church’s Sunday service was valid for Catholics.

It’s nothing to do with the nearness or otherwise of a Catholic Church.

Catholics recognise the validity of the Orthodox priesthood and Eucharist, so in cases where we are remote from a Catholic Church we can, in some circumstances, receive the Orthodox sacrament.

But we do NOT, on the other hand, believe that Episcopalian priests are validly ordained. Not being validly ordained they have no more ability to celebrate or confect the Eucharist than you or I.

your priest is correct
if there is no Catholic Church within a reasonable distance–and bear in mind some people drive or walk for hours to get to Mass, such is their faith, not that we are required to do so–you have no obligation. No attending services at any protestant Church does not fulfill your obligation, and no Catholic may participate and receive their communion for any reason at any time. Catholics may receive communion in an Orthodox church, but most of them do not allow non-members to communicate in any case.

The Roman Catholic Church does not recognize Episcopal (Anglican) Orders as being valid. Therefore, under the teachings of the Church, no Anglican Priest can validly consecrate the Eucharist.

While you may attend a wedding, a funeral, a concert, etc. at an Episcopal Church, you may NOT partake of their version of Communion.

Just as i can attend a service at my Uncle’s church, but I can not participate in their communion service.

If you come across an Anglican Use Mass, that is a Catholic Mass. You may participate in that, receive Communion, and fulfill your Mass obligation. Its Catholic, not Episcopailian, that is why. But the Liturgy would greatly resemble an Anglican Mass because it was taken from that.

Your priest is correct.

If you are unable to attend Mass because one is not available, there is no obligation. Going to a protestant service (Espiscopalian services are protestant services) does NOT fulfill your Sunday obligation and you CANNOT receive their communion.

This is not exactly accurate.

Attending an Orthodox divine liturgy does **not **fulfill your Sunday obligation. However, since the Orthodox have valid Holy Orders and Apostolic Succession it is a vaild Mass and valid Eucharist. While the Catholic Church has no problem with your receiving the Eucharist at their Divine Litugy, the Orthodox do not allow it.

Right, having no Catholic liturgy but an Orthodox liturgy instead within reasonable distance would dispense you of your obligation to attend. However there is a spiritual advantage for you to attend the Orthodox liturgy and therefore would be highly encouraged to do so even though its not a replacement for a Catholic liturgy.

You cannot fufil your Sunday obligation at an Episcopalian Church. You cannot receive “communion” in an Episcopalian Church.

You cannot fufil your Sunday obligation at an Orthodox Church. As other posters have said it is very unlikely they would give you Communion.

You colud validly fulfil your Sunday obligation and validly receive Communion in a Chaldean, Eastern or Oriental Catholic Church.

Your bishop should make arrangements for your parish on a Sunday if there is no priest available. A deacon, acolyte, or authorised lay man could lead one of the Offices, or a Liturgy of the Word, and Holy Communion outside Mass maybe given.

You could travel to another parish or Catholic church where a priest will be celebrating Mass.

Just some clarifications. You do not need to receive Communion to fulfill your obligation. What is needed is participation in a Liturgy of any Catholic Rite. A Communion Service cannot replace a Mass and if there is not priest a Bishop could have just dispensed the entire parish. Although as mentioned, it is still highly encouraged to participate in the Liturgy of the Word which is accomplished by a Communion Service or going to an Orthodox service. But again its not fulfilling your obligation nor replacing it.

Just some clarifications.

I know that one fulfils their obligation on Sundays and solemnities of precept by going to Mass.

I know that receiving Holy Communion is not part of fulfilling the obligation. I never said that one had to receive Holy Communion to fulfill one’s obligation.

If a parish lacks a priest the bishop can allow the fulfillment of the Sunday obligation by a liturgy other than Mass.

I believe that you do, but the way you worded your previous statement may confuse other readers who do not know and therefore I offered the clarification.

The obligation to attend Liturgy is stated by Canon Law. I am unsure if the Bishop can change that. He can dispense the obligation but I am not aware that he can change the obligation to something that is not an entire Liturgy.

I was attempting, perhaps not as clearly as I thought, to answer two questions at once: fulfilling the Sunday obligation and where one can validly receive Communion.

I anticipated this genre of response. Waiting for it I speed read the “Directory for Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest”. Unfortunately, it doesn’t answer our question. It does mention, of course, that the ideal is to go to Mass on Sunday. It gives suggestions for alternatives. It doesn’t, as far as I could find, say whether these alternatives fuflil the obligation.

It’s my understanding that failure to fulfil one’s Sunday obligation is a mortal sin. I’m sure that if no priest can be made available to celebrate Mass on a Sunday for a parish or other community that some alternative needs to be provided. The preference I can see in the Directory is a Liturgy of the Word using the readings for that Sunday’s Mass and for Holy Communion to be given from the reserved sacrament. I cannot see that the Church wouldn’t make some pastoral provision for these people rather than leaving a whole parish/community in a state of mortal sin.

Yes, failure to fulfill the obligation is a sin. But we can be dispensed, either by the nature of a situation or an explicit dispensation by a competent authority. Usually a Bishop but priests have been given the authority to do so in individual cases or in cases of emergency (snow storm, flood, hurricane, etc.)

Having no priest in a parish and there is no other Catholic parish within reasonable distance then would automatically dispense you of the obligation. Other automatic dispensations would be for health reasons or for caring for one who is sick, or in extreme situations like a delayed flight that got you stuck in an airport for hours.

I know that attending a Liturgy of the Word such as that of an Orthodox parish is not a replacement of the obligation.

I wonder though, would an Episcopailian or other Liturgical Protestant service have a valid Liturgy of the Word?

By the way, attending a Liturgy of the Word doesn’t carry a condition that the readings should be the same as that of Sunday’s Mass. The EF and Eastern Churches would have a different Liturgical Calendar and thus would have different readings themselves. But of course if its a Communion Service by the same Catholic Parish, its natural to follow the Liturgical Calendar for readings. I’m talking about when you go to an Orthodox service.

It’s not as cut and dried as one might think, since there are differing opinions among canon lawyers as to whether attendance at an Orthodox liturgy fulfills the “obligation” and under what circumstances.

Among the Eastern Orthodox, ad hoc exceptions are sometimes made by the priest. Among the Oriental Orthodox, such “exceptions” are far more frequent, even outside the Middle East where inter-communion is not particularly unusual.

So lack of priest in itself gives the dispensation.

You’re confusing me here. I’m not sure why you’re bringing other churches into the discussion. I thought we were discussing what happens in a Catholic Parish on a Sunday when there’s no priest available.

The Directory I quoted says that if a priest cannot be had on Sunday and the parishioners cannot go to a place where there is a priest celebrating Mass that there is a preferred alternative. That preference is a Liturgy of the Word and Communion. It says the readings at the Liturgy of the Word should be those which would have been read at Mass for that Sunday if the Mass had been celebrated.

The EF and Eastern Churches would have a different Liturgical Calendar and thus would have different readings themselves. But of course if its a Communion Service by the same Catholic Parish, its natural to follow the Liturgical Calendar for readings. I’m talking about when you go to an Orthodox service.
As far as the EF wouldn’t the first option be, if possible, to go to OF Mass even if the individual prefers the EF. Again, I’m unclear why you’re referring to other churches.

Yes, and no other Catholic Liturgy within reasonable distance. So like here in Canada there may be towns that could be hours from another town and they may have only one Catholic parish, and if the priest were to leave for one Sunday for whatever reason and there is no replacement, then they are dispensed by the nature of the situation. But if there’s another Catholic parish in town but of an Eastern Rite in another language, we are still obliged to attend from that parish.

I wanted to relate it with the original post. Since we are encouraged to attend a Liturgy of the Word, and such can be led by a layperson, I wonder of an Episcopailian service would suffice for it.

Yes, its an alternative but I am unsure if it can replace the obligation (ie. fulfill the obligation). Canon Law says the obligation is fulfilled by attending Liturgy of any Catholic Rite. Since Liturgy of the Word is not a full Liturgy, I do not think the obligation can be transferred.

The readings for that Sunday are to be used if you will celebrate the Liturgy of the Word to be held by the same parish. But if you attend say an Orthodox service, for sure the readings would be different.

I’m just pointing out that on a given Sunday, the readings are different in the EF and other ritual Churches even within the Catholic Church. So if you are attending the Liturgy of the Word in an Orthodox Church, for sure the reading would be different and wouldn’t satisfy what you were saying about attending a Liturgy of the Word using the same Sunday readings. But I guess we need to solve first if the obligation can be substituted by a Liturgy of the Word.

I know we can fulfil the obligation at anyone of the 23 Catholic Churches. I’m not sure, but cannot say for certain, whether attending Orthodox, Episcopalian, or other Churches or ecclesial communities. As Malphono said the “jury’s still out” as the canon lawyers can’t agree. It’s not a practicality I’ve ever faced. I live in a large metropolis, have a car, public transport is good so I’d always be able to get to a Catholic Church.

Of course we are so lucky that his is almost not a problem where we live. I remember I visited a small town once, its actually twin towns about 40 minutes apart. Both towns has a parish each serviced I believe by the same priest. Because one town only has one Mass on Saturday evening, no Sunday. And the other town is one Sunday Mass only. I know there are far more remote towns here in Canada so they may encounter this situation more often. There are even towns who only has one doctor.

There are rural areas here where bishops have had to merge parishes due to shortage of priests. However, we could never have anywhere the remoteness that can be found in Canada.

If you are where you can not get to a Catholic parish, then your obligation is lifted. You should still pray the liturgy of the Word on your own.

Catholics are not permitted by the Catholic Church to receive at Episcopal or Lutheran services, because it is’t the real Eucharist, as their “clergy” lack valid ordination.

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