Catholic stance on Eastern communioin

What is the official Catholic position on the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist within the Eastern Church?

If you are speaking of the Eastern Catholic Churches, they are in union with Rome and believe just as the Latin Catholics do. They are as fully Catholic as the Latin Church.

If you are speaking of the Eastern Orthodox, the belief is the same, and their Eucharist is valid because they have true Apostolic Succession. Christ is truly present.

So both the Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox have a valid Eucharist, even though the EO are not in communion with the Catholic church, and usually intercommunion is not practiced.

Thank you very much for that answer-- I was thinking about the Eastern Orthodox Church.

I am quite surprised by the answer however. How can the Catholic Church recognize communion in the Orthodox Church when the Orthodox Church gives it out to people whom the Catholic Church would deny it? One example would be those who have been married multiple times?

The belief in the real presence is definitely the same. However you don’t generally hear terms like transubstantiation in the East even though the belief is there.

Even if the Eastern Orthodox Churches were guilty of some errors of discipline, that would not affect the fact that they have a valid priesthood in apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist.

This is true because even a priest who is in a state of mortal sin can consecrate the Eucharist that does not change the validity of the sacrament

Please no one take any offence. These statements are made with real and genuine sincerity OK?

I asked this because many people I know who are Orthodox and who take communion would be denied communion in the Catholic Church, in fact if they took it it would be considered a grave sin. Two examples are people who have been divorced multiple times and people who use contraceptives. The people I know personally are very devout-- they speak of the Eucharist in a way that is quite compelling. For them it is a real power that is life changing. I have spoken of this in other threads.

If they were Catholic they would be denied communion. How is it that Jesus allows someone in the Catholic Church to take communion and by evidence it is very powerful for them, but does not in the Catholic Church?

I meant to say

How is it that Jesus allows someone in the Eastern Church to take communion and by evidence it is very powerful for them, but does not in the Catholic Church?

This post seems to be dripping with sarcasm.

First, it has already been explained - Eastern Catholic discipline is the same as Roman/Latin discipline - so if one is in a state as you claim, they may be precluded from receiving Eucharist.

As to non-Catholic Eastern Church - Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Assyrian Church - they have their own understanding of requirements and allowances. God will judge their leaders based on their understanding and comprehension of truth and mercy. However, your claim is too broad to be believable - many Eastern non-Catholic Churches are stricter than Catholics on who may receive Eucharist. Divorce, even without remarriage, could bar reception in some Eastern non-Catholic Churches. Remarriage is somewhere between 3-7 years excommunicated with penance before re-admittance. Some stricter Eastern bishops will deny communion for any kind of contraception - artificial or natural.

The caricature that you present is not reality.

^^^^^

My post is not dripping with sarcasm. I am sorry if you read it that-- I posted above stating that I really don’t want anyone to take what I say the wrong way. I am being 100% genuine. I don’t see how anyone could not be curious about this.

You have to understand my position on this. I have equal respect for both Catholicism and the Eastern Orthodox Church. These are the two church’s who have formed 99% of my understanding on Christ, salvation, God-- ***everything *** There are many differences of approach here. I was genuinely shocked that the Catholic Church recognizes the legitimacy of the Eastern Church’s Eucharist when there are some very deep differences of opinion as to who is and is not eligible to take it.

As someone who is from neither of these traditions but who does believe in the real presence in the Eucharist in both it cannot help but make me wonder just how the real presence can be denied one person in one Church and allowed in another. Another way to put it-- the way I am really thinking about it is “Does Jesus support the limitations or allowances set by either of these churches when they are in disagreement?”

I am assuming here that when the Catholic Church allows communion in a given situation and the Orthodox does not that the real presence IS in the Catholic Churches communion. What about vice versa? If so what does that say about the limitations or allowances of these two churches when Christ is present in both? Is this a limitation that Jesus just has to work with due to human limits in understanding? Or is Jesus truly fully supporting opposing approaches? Does He prefer one of these approaches to the other and if so does His preference always fall in one Church over the others or is it divided up among many different positions held by many different Churches?

I cannot see how what I am asking about could be viewed as anything but genuine. It is very genuine. How could anyone not be curious about something so important as who does and does not get to take Communion when it is the real presence and probably our best help for salvation? If in a certain situation church A gives it and church B does not but Jesus is present in both Church A and B’s communion what does that say about our positions? Does Jesus say yes to reception In one church and no in another even if the situation of the receiver is identical in both?

This may come across not very well, but you ask what Jesus does.

Jesus doesn’t wade in on the question. Although there are approved private revelations, for the largest part in those revelations, He does not comment on the matter which you bring up.

Therefore, it is up to the disciplinary element of the Churches to make the determination as to who may be able to receive the Eucharist, and who may not. Within the Catholic Church, that is decided primarily within one of the dicasteries in Rome, charged with such an issue. Within the Orthodox Church, since they do not have a single authority (that is, the Pope), then it is up to the method of the specific Church as to how they determine disciplinary issues. And given that they do not have one method and are not united in their disciplinary methods, they may arrive at different issues.

Keep in mind also, that while the specific church (for example, Greek Orthodox) may have come to a decision, it may not be universally practiced within that Church.

As you may be aware, this issue has come up recently in the Catholic Church, as we have a large number of individuals who have married, divorced, and then remarried without a declaration of nullity as to the first relationship; that matter should be answered soon. It has been proposed that the rule be relaxed, primarily by some European bishops.

I think you’re mixing apples and oranges. The RCC believes that the Orthodox have a valid sacrament. That doesn’t mean the RCC approves of all the disciplinary actions or rules on marriage that the Orthodox, do. The RCC’s position is that those who divorced and remarried even in the Orthodox tradition would not be validly married, and I would think the conclusion (given the current position of the RCC) is that those who are divorced and remarried within the Orthodox church should abstain, too. But the RCC has no legal authority there, and Christ is present in the Eucharist even if those who receive it aren’t in a proper state of grace, whether Catholic or Orthodox.

The answer is that the Orthodox do not see divorce & remarriage as an issue. They have a process where a couple obtains a civil divorce and enters a period of penance for that sin and obtain an ecclesiastical divorce. After the time of penance, they may enter into another marriage, sanctioned by the church.

In the same way that the catholic church allows for marriage in the church if you obtain an annulment, so too does the orthodox church if you obtain an ecclesiastical divorce.

As an aside, the official position of the Orthodox church is that those who have obtained a civil divorce lose their good standing in the church and may not participate in any of the sacraments. The ecclesiastical divorce is necessary to restore them to good standing and being able to participate in the sacraments.

goarch.org/archdiocese/departments/marriage/interfaith/divrempage/recoveringfromdivorce

Thank you for all of that information.

It seems to me that Jesus is speaking. If his presence is real in the Eucharist and it is there in one church and allowed to be received but not allowed in another then Jesus is speaking, he is showing up with his real presence in the more relaxed approach. I don’t see any other way to look at that unless the position is that Jesus has no choice as to weather his real presence is or is not in a given service or is or is not allowed to be received-- which I could not possible believe. That would give individual churches direct active power over Christ.

I was not talking about private revelations-- I don’t trust those either.

I see that you don’t list yourself as Catholic; rather than addressing an issue such as this as Jesus speaking; we might rather refer to the issue as where the guidance of the Holy Spirit is, or is not.

Again, because of the schism about 1100 years ago (1054 is given as the date, but the issues really started in the 900’s), the Orthodox no longer have the same means of resolving issues by referring them to “the Chair of Peter”, as both east and west Catholics do.

The issue is partly a matter of differences over centuries, of sacramental theology and of disciplinary responses to that theology.

The Catholic Church has a process of reviewing a marriage, post-divorce, as to what exactly was the mind and intent of the parties on the day of the marriage, and whether or not there were any impediments on the part of either party, or both, to forming a valid marriage on that date.

One impediment, known in its folklore terms, is a “shotgun” wedding. The term itself explains the underlying principle, that the marriage must be entered freely and not coerced. There are other issues which may be impediments to forming a valid marriage, such as being too closely related; not intending to enter into a permanent marriage (what young children might refer to as :King’s X", or we might say, entering with the clear intent that if it doesn’t “work out”, that they will divorce), and a number of others.

The Orthodox, at least in part (since there are a number of Churches under this umbrella) appear to have a different approach to the matter. It does not appear that it is one which the Catholic Church recognizes, as there does not appear to be any juridical determination that the first marriage was invalid, leaving the issue of whether the Gospel account of Christ’s commentary on divorce and remarriage unanswered.

This is only one of a number of issues that would need to be resolved if there should be reconciliation between any of the Orthodox Churches and the Catholic Church.

And that is about all that can be said. They don’t appear to have an adequate response to the Gospel account; but determination of that matter is so far above the pay grade of anyone here as to be laughable.

So it is not a matter of Jesus saying anything now. Rather, it is a matter of what He said 2000 years ago, and how we respond to that - or fail to.

So Jesus isn’t taking a relaxed approach. But people might be doing so. Or it may not be a relaxed approach, but rather, simply a wrong one.

I appreciate your post and have read it carefully but even if the Catholic Church is the right one that does not solve the issue. Both systems cannot be right at the same time and yet Jesus ***seems ***to be present in both. I think He is, as I do believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist both in the Catholic Church and in the Eastern Orthodox Church. One of these systems presumably has to be wrong here and yet Christ is present to those in the Orthodox to whom the Catholic Church would deny Communion. I have been informed that the inverse is also often true. It seems Christ does not deny His presence to those that the churches would. I think that is very, very interesting.

Perhaps the real issue here isn’t whether or not divorce from a legitimate marriage is a grave sin (it probably is) but instead whether or not Churches are justified in their interpretation of scripture regarding who is and who is not qualified to take communion.

I am very liberal in this area and feel that there are very few reasons that a person ought to be denied communion. I do not want to debate that here with anyone and respect and understand the other position. Its just that in my experience working with lots of people over long periods of time, that a person can be sincere in their will about coming to God and coming out of sin but take years to actually *be able *to do that in their actions. There are often complex reasons for this sluggishness and in my opinion inability to respond more quickly. Often these causes are not *only *a moral issue but instead have to do with upbringing, abuse, trauma, ignorance about the reality of sin etc. It can take some people years to find clarity. I am convinced utterly that the real presence of Christ should not be denied these people because I really do believe that it is their best help for coming out of sin.

Because of issues such as these I cannot help but find it profoundly interesting to see communion granted in one situation and denied in another and yet presumably (I am convinced) Christ is present in both situations. It seems we could find examples of people who would be convinced that the Eucharist is THE thing that saved them and brought them out of sin and yet who very possibly would have been denied communion in the Catholic Church or the Orthodox Church respectively.

As you said it may be above any of our pay grades to address these points. I can think of lots and lots of ways to explain it even with my very limited qualifications. I am of the opinion that God is working through two imperfect systems here, neither of which are entirely accurate in their understanding on these matters and both of which would place limits where Jesus seemingly does not.

I personally think your whole premise is mistaken. The limitation to comparing EO and Catholic disciplinary practices further takes the original statement - Jesus being present - and comes to a illogical conclusion. In addition, the OO and Assyrian practices are not compared. In any case, Christ’s presence is not dependent on the recipient, however, the Grace or estrangement that person receives, is. In addition, by asking someone to refrain from Eucharist for penitential reasons, is not “denying His Presence” to those persons - He is present spiritually, and physically in front of them. The reason to refrain comes from person’s inability to receive according to the discipline that will heal them. You wouldn’t give full adult dose extra strength Tylenol to a baby because even though acetaminophen ‘works’, the baby would ultimately be harmed due to the baby’s size.

You need to explain the illogical conclusion better than that as I did not understand it.

I did not compare other Christian traditions that I am not familiar with but I doubt bringing them into the discussion will do anything but add further discontinuity between the religions in question. If you have points to bring into the discussion regarding other traditions please do if they will add clarity. In any case adding other Churches to the discussion will not resolve the problem I have in mind (at least I don’t think it will.).

Your comparison of the Eucharist with Tylenol is interesting and could potentially be investigated. Where are the examples of overdose (term used very loosely) in Catholicism where the Orthodox Church would deny the Eucharist and the Catholic Church would allow it? Or where are the examples of the inverse of this? How would we measure this? Unless one of these Churches, say the Catholic Church, is willing to come out and deny the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist in many of these other Churches then the problem remains. People are presumably taking communion to good effect in some Churches under conditions that would be denied in another Church. I think that is a tragedy based on my firm belief that the Eucharist really is the presence of Christ and that this presence is particularly powerful.

I know Jesus is present in other ways than just the Eucharist but lets not pretend that the Eucharist is not an unusually sacred and powerful encounter with Christ. In light of that it seems that some people are being denied that experience unnecessarily. Or just as possible but less likely in my opinion, some people are receiving it when they shouldn’t be.

If it were up to me (it isn’t) I would want to isolate these instances and investigate the lived reality of a large segment of the population in question and see if we could gain some insight into this by actually talking to the people involved. Who knows, we could potentially find a saint receiving communion in the Catholic faith who is having particularly powerful encounters with Christ during communion, someone who would be denied communion in another Church. Perhaps we would find some strange opposite of this going on also, maybe someone taking it because the Church says they can and should but who deep inside had become very uncomfortable with it for an inexplicable reason.

We may also come to suspect that Christ himself regulates the intensity of his presence in the Eucharist personally on an individual basis thereby lessening the need for the Churches in question to do so. I really have no idea how it would turn out, I know what I think it would be, but as to what we would really find its anyone’s guess. It seems to me that we have here a very interesting possibility of looking deeper into our beliefs about who is and who is not allowed communion, and possibly even getting a deeper glimpse into the mind of God.

You state that Orthodox allow something that Catholics don’t, however this cannot be proven. The reality is that Catholicism has a more universally organized system of ‘allowances and disallowances’, whereas it varies from mild to severe within the Eastern Orthodox system, defined by a bishop or a Synod of Bishops.

Your comparison of the Eucharist with Tylenol is interesting and could potentially be investigated. Where are the examples of overdose (term used very loosely) in Catholicism where the Orthodox Church would deny the Eucharist and the Catholic Church would allow it? Or where are the examples of the inverse of this? How would we measure this?

Before measuring and weighing some hypothetical, why not first see which specialist physician practices medicine well - a “Catholic physician” of the Latin or Eastern Churches practice in one a similar manner (sure, there are some slight differences even between Eastern and Latin Catholics), while an “Eastern Orthodox physician” practices in another; one wouldn’t necessarily mix and match each one’s advice as one sees fit - you would stick with one trusting in one’s advice (or at least one philosophy).

Unless one of these Churches, say the Catholic Church, is willing to come out and deny the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist in many of these other Churches then the problem remains.

Why would either deny the Truth?

People are presumably taking communion to good effect in some Churches under conditions that would be denied in another Church.

Depends, why presume at all.

I think that is a tragedy based on my firm belief that the Eucharist really is the presence of Christ and that this presence is particularly powerful.

Ok. Why worry about what everyone else is doing when you’ve got your own health to attend to.

I know Jesus is present in other ways than just the Eucharist but lets not pretend that the Eucharist is not an unusually sacred and powerful encounter with Christ.

Sacred and powerful when worthy. Judgment and condemnation when unworthy.

In light of that it seems that some people are being denied that experience unnecessarily.

What constitutes necessity, and how do you make a blanket generalization about it?

Or just as possible but less likely in my opinion, some people are receiving it when they shouldn’t be.

Less likely how? Based on what? It’s probably more likely that Catholics in the US are receiving “too regularly” without confession or an afterthought. Could it be possible that Eastern Orthodox (and some Eastern Catholics) are “too strict”, often requiring a full day’s fast, with confession and vespers the night before? Sure, anything could since we are arguing hypotheticals and not reality.

Who knows, we could potentially find a saint receiving communion in the Catholic faith who is having particularly powerful encounters with Christ during communion, someone who would be denied communion in another Church.

This is so general as to not be addressed - all Catholics in a general sense are denied Communion in all non-Catholic Eastern Churches, so sure. There may also be saints in protestant communities and other religions unknown to us. What we know is one must be in full Communion and in a state of grace normally. If there are some far-off exceptions, these cannot be used to make caselaw, God will deal with them on His own.

Perhaps we would find some strange opposite of this going on also, maybe someone taking it because the Church says they can and should but who deep inside had become very uncomfortable with it for an inexplicable reason.

That would be called “scrupulosity”.

We may also come to suspect that Christ himself regulates the intensity of his presence in the Eucharist personally on an individual basis thereby lessening the need for the Churches in question to do so.

So why remain Catholic at all, since Christ regulates most everything on some level based on the individual? Sounds like current Episcopalianism.

I really have no idea how it would turn out, I know what I think it would be, but as to what we would really find its anyone’s guess. It seems to me that we have here a very interesting possibility of looking deeper into our beliefs about who is and who is not allowed communion, and possibly even getting a deeper glimpse into the mind of God.

Sound like general mainline protestantism, where self-examination is minimal and self-justification is regular and self-absolution is allowable.

SyroMalankara

franklinstower

You state that Orthodox allow something that Catholics don’t, however this cannot be proven. The reality is that Catholicism has a more universally organized system of ‘allowances and disallowances’, whereas it varies from mild to severe within the Eastern Orthodox system, defined by a bishop or a Synod of Bishops.

If the Catholic Church is more consistent then that almost proves my point doesn’t it? In any case it certainly could be proven and investigated which is what I was suggesting.

.Before measuring and weighing some hypothetical, why not first see which specialist physician practices medicine well - a “Catholic physician” of the Latin or Eastern Churches practice in one a similar manner (sure, there are some slight differences even between Eastern and Latin Catholics), while an “Eastern Orthodox physician” practices in another; one wouldn’t necessarily mix and match each one’s advice as one sees fit - you would stick with one trusting in one’s advice (or at least one philosophy).

I think this is a good point-- however my interest here is in comparative theology specifically concerning Eucharist regulations on who can and cant take it.

Why would either deny the Truth?

I did not suggest any would-- only that it would seem to be the only resolution to the dilemma which is that the real presence of Christ is allowed a person in church A but denied in church B under similar circumstances.

Sacred and powerful when worthy. Judgment and condemnation when unworthy.

This. This exactly. I cant think of a better reason to look into this.

What constitutes necessity, and how do you make a blanket generalization about it?

I don’t know what constitutes necessity- we are just exploring here. My point is that the real presence of Christ is allowed in one Church under certain circumstances and not allowed in another under the same circumstances. I wouldn’t care in almost any area other than when it concerns the Eucharist. Potential inconsistencies as to who does and does not get to receive the real presence of Christ seem very worth finding out. I am amazed more people aren’t interested and I really don’t get the hostility toward this line of questioning. Is Christ divided?

Less likely how? Based on what? It’s probably more likely that Catholics in the US are receiving “too regularly” without confession or an afterthought. Could it be possible that Eastern Orthodox (and some Eastern Catholics) are “too strict”, often requiring a full day’s fast, with confession and vespers the night before? Sure, anything could since we are arguing hypotheticals and not reality.

Clearly you assume the same hypothetical since you just stated one in your own post- again. I am just suggesting that this whole thing get looked into or at least discussed out of genuine curiosity… . Of course there are inconsistencies and again it wouldn’t matter to me if it were not the real literal presence of Christ being discussed.

If there are some far-off exceptions, these cannot be used to make caselaw, God will deal with them on His own.

Thank you for this portion-- it has been very helpful. I rather like the idea of exceptions to the rule but that do not require a changing of case law. This is exactly the kind of distinction I was hoping to receive in this thread. Any answer at all is OK with me. I am just very curious.

Ok. Why worry about what everyone else is doing when you’ve got your own health to attend to.

Curiosity. A desire to understand. Faith seeks understanding. But the main reason is because I really do believe in the power of Communion and I care about how the reception of it is handled and the people involved deeply, and I care about knowing Jesus better…

That would be called “scrupulosity”. Sacred and powerful when worthy. Judgment and condemnation when unworthy.

Not necessarily-- based on your own re-post. This is the grey area I am trying to understand better. Does Jesus change his mind from Church to Church? Is he fully in support of the contradictory requirements? Is he transcendent of them all while working within them all? Is his presence self regulated? Is his presence actually real in every Church? Compassion demands me to at least be interested and to understand as fully as I can.

]So why remain Catholic at all, since Christ regulates most everything on some level based on the individual? Sounds like current Episcopalianism. Sound like general mainline protestantism, where self-examination is minimal and self-justification is regular and self-absolution is allowable.

*I am really not suggesting that. * I am going to change my moniker from 'Independent Christian" to Catholic/Orthodox-ish to avoid this confusion in the future. It was a poor choice on my part. Everything that has been of value to me as a Christian has come from the Catholic and eastern Orthodox Church. It has been shortsighted not to include that in my personal info and I will correct it shortly.

I just simply find this whole situation very interesting. I cant imagine that in a college theology course this subject would be treated with the same contempt that it has been on this forum from certain people.

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