Can Orthodox receive Holy Communion in a Catholic Church?

I’m confused on this subject, because I’ve been told various things by different sources. What is the official teaching of the Catholic Church on this matter? If an Eastern Orthodox Christian attends a Roman Catholic Mass, can he/she receive the Eucharist at that Mass, since Orthodox Christians aren’t in full agreement with everything the Catholic Church teaches?

Can. 844 §1. Catholic ministers administer the sacraments licitly to Catholic members of the Christian faithful alone, who likewise receive them licitly from Catholic ministers alone, without prejudice to the prescripts of §§2, 3, and 4 of this canon, and can. 861, §2.
§2. Whenever necessity requires it or true spiritual advantage suggests it, and provided that danger of error or of indifferentism is avoided, the Christian faithful for whom it is physically or morally impossible to approach a Catholic minister are permitted to receive the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick from non-Catholic ministers in whose Churches these sacraments are valid. [The Orthodox have valid sacraments. So, under the certain conditions outlined, Catholics can receive the sacraments from non-Catholic (i.e. Eastern Orthodox) ministers.]
§3. **Catholic ministers administer the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick licitly to members of Eastern Churches which do not have full communion with the Catholic Church if they seek such on their own accord and are properly disposed. [Likewise, given the conditions outlined, Orthodox faithful can receive the sacraments from Catholic ministers. So, the answer to your question is yes, given free choice and proper disposition.] **This is also valid for members of other Churches which in the judgment of the Apostolic See are in the same condition in regard to the sacraments as these Eastern Churches.
§4. If the danger of death is present or if, in the judgment of the diocesan bishop or conference of bishops, some other grave necessity urges it, Catholic ministers administer these same sacraments licitly also to other Christians not having full communion with the Catholic Church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who seek such on their own accord, provided that they manifest Catholic faith in respect to these sacraments and are properly disposed.
§5. For the cases mentioned in §§2, 3, and 4, the diocesan bishop or conference of bishops is not to issue general norms except after consultation at least with the local competent authority of the interested non-Catholic Church or community. (Code of Canon Law, my emphasis and comment.)

See also Unitatis Redintegratio 14-18.

I’m confused about “proper disposition” in Section 3. What exactly does this mean? Can Orthodox Christians only receive Holy Communion in a Catholic Church under special circumstances?

Proper disposition, as far as I am aware, refers to things like Canon 916:

“A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition which includes the resolution of confessing as soon as possible.”

Two things:

(1) As has been outlined already, according to Canon Law, a member of the Orthodox Church may approach a Catholic priest for the Sacraments of their own volition, and according to what is outlined in the canons.

(2) The Orthodox Churches do not allow their members to receive the Sacraments in the Catholic Church.

So, really, it’s a moot point as to whether or not the Catholic Church makes this allowance-- the Orthodox Church does not. The members of the Orthodox Church are subject to the Orthodox Church to which they belong and should obey their Church’s directive in this matter.

A good way to interpret “properly disposed” would be to say that if this person were Catholic, would that person be a candidate to receive? In other words, not conscious of any grave sin, fasting for 1 hour, not in an irregular marriage, belief in the Real Presence (of course) etc. etc.

This can get extremely complicated when the rules are actually applied because the Orthodox discipline must be respected, and the Orthodox canons (while they vary in their local applications on this issue) are much more strict on the matter than are the Catholic canons.

From the Catholic perspective Communion may only be “offered” (ie an invitation made–for lack of a better way to phrase that) if access to an Orthodox priest is difficult, because of what’s quoted in the next paragraph.

The actual words of the Catholic canon are “if they seek them on their own” so a very strict interpretation of that means that a Catholic priest may administer Communion to any Orthodox person who spontaneously asks, but at the same time since the Catholic priest has an obligation to respect the Orthodox discipline this is a very complicated and very much a subjective issue to be applied in individual instances.

The long and the short of it is that from the Catholic perspective, yes, Orthodox faithful may receive Communion from a Catholic minister.

Exactly. When I was a catechumenate in the Orthodox church (OCA), the priest there informed us that we were NOT to go back to the Catholic church and receive the Eucharist, while we were catechumenates and after we were received into the Orthodox church. As I recall, as he put it, “If you do that you are no longer Orthodox, you would have to come to confession and perform a penance before I would give you communion again.”

At least, that was our experience.

The previous posts were all correct, so I don’t have much to add.

What we have is the peculiar possibility that Roman Catholics could be excommunicated Latae Sententiae (automatically) for refuting some critical dogmas. While members of the PNCC and the Orthodox church (which do not believe these dogmas) are welcome to partake.

It has not always been like this, the change was fairly recent, only a few decades.

In the Orthodox perspective the sharing of communion can only happen when there is theological agreement. It is the glue which holds the communion together, and helps assure theological conformity all across the communion. This is why Orthodox bishops will not ordinarily allow their flock to partake in the Roman Catholic church, it would be yielding on a fundamental point of church discipline.

For it’s part, the Roman Catholic church understands this and adds that consent of the Orthodox person’s bishop is required.

I believe the OP’s question has been answered, but I am confused with your statement:

Who allows the PNCC to partake and which Orthodox churches do not believe in these dogmas? Who sets them? :slight_smile:

No; it just means, you have fasted for at least one full hour, you are not conscious of any unconfessed sins, and you are living according to the precepts of the Church (ie: you are not divorced and remarried; you attend Sunday Mass every week; you are in the habit of going to Confession when you need to go; you have not married outside the faith without a dispensation, etc.)

The Roman Catholic church allows both the PNCC and the Orthodox to partake of the Blessed Sacrament. Even though both of these churches reject Papal Infallibility and Papal Universal Jurisdiction. (The Orthodox specifically also reject the doctrine of Purgatory as taught in the Roman Catholic church.)

Roman Catholics are excommunicated for rejecting these dogmas. Such are specifically anathematized at Vatican I.

Therefore we have the strange possibility of having ‘non’-Catholics invited to partake of Communion at a Mass while some Roman Catholics are expected to refrain.

I suppose this is one of those “pastoral” things that make absolutely no logical sense, but help to make people feel like they’ve “won” something, so as to keep the peace. :shrug:

In any case, they can’t receive Holy Communion in our Churches unless they have the permission of their own Bishops (who for the most part would forbid it) so the chances of it ever actually happening are pretty slim.

Thanks to everyone for the answers, and for clearing up the confusion.

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