Code of Canon Law

I saw the following in the Code of Canon Law. Could you please explain this to me ?

“844:4 If the danger of death is present or other grave necessity, in the judgment of the diocesan bishop or the national conference of bishops, Catholic ministers may licitly administer these sacraments to other Christians who do not have full communion with the Catholic Church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community, and on their own ask for it, provided they manifest Catholic faith in these sacraments and are properly disposed.”

Would this be only for Protestants who are in danger of death, or does this include Protestants who share the same beliefs in the Roman Catholic Church, but their Church (Denomination) is not in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.


It means that the Catholic minister (i.e., priest) can decide to administer those Sacraments on his own authority, when danger of death is present and the person fulfills the other conditions in that canon. If there is no such danger, he is to follow the judgment of his diocesan Bishop/Conference of Bishops in regard to whether or not there is a “grave necessity.” While the person’s “church” may not have the same beliefs, the person himself has to have manifested the faith of the Catholic Church in regard to these Sacraments.

So, yes, it can include Protestants outside of a danger of death situation.


Ok. I am a Lutheran but have the same beliefs as the Roman Catholic Church. Would this mean that I could in effect receive the Sacraments?


If you are not in danger of death, you’d have to either lay out your particular situation before a local priest who, in turn, would go to the Bishop to see what should/could be done or you could directly go to the Bishop yourself. I suggest working through a local priest. If the Bishop determines that you may receive these Sacraments, you can. If not, you can’t. I have no idea what would be done in your case.



Questions concerning Canon Law should be directed to your local tribunal, not to laymen who are not trained in law.


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