Could Communion Help Non-Catholic Christians?

If a non-Catholic Christian was open to Catholicism could Communion Help them? Why deny someone this spiritual nourishment if it could strengthen then to see the truth more fully? Jesus offers mercy to us wretches and says prostitutes shall enter the kingdom…, so maybe we should offer communion to non-Catholic Christians some of whom probably know more about the Bible and live holier lives than many Catholics. Many Catholics come to mass on Christmas and Easter only and they receive Communion. Why not invite non-Catholic Christians who are devout and worship every Sunday?

I’m not trying to cause an uproar, I’m simply posing the question as a matter of being reasonable. Didn’t Jesus even tell the Apostles that anyone who is not against us is for us?

Only in very limited circumstances is that allowed.

To begin with, Communion is a sign of unity; one who is contemplating becoming a Catholic is not in unity. There is also value in fasting; in this case, fasting from the Eucharist until one has joined.

There are certainly non-Catholic Christians who live lives of great holiness, having been sanctified by the Lord although they are not within the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church. The Council Fathers of Vatican II clearly articulate this in Unitatis Redintegratio. It is also a theme often taken up by the Popes and by the Holy See as well as by the members of the College of Bishops across the years since that conciliar document.

The norms for admitting non-Catholics to the sacrament of the Eucharist, however, are succinctly covered in canon 844, which is supplemented both by particular law and by additional directives at the level of the bishop(s). Bolding added by me.

*Can. 844 §1 Catholic ministers may lawfully administer the sacraments only to catholic members of Christ’s faithful, who equally may lawfully receive them only from catholic ministers, except as provided in §§2, 3 and 4 of this canon and in can. 861 §2.

§2 Whenever necessity requires or a genuine spiritual advantage commends it, and provided the danger of error or indifferentism is avoided, Christ’s faithful for whom it is physically or morally impossible to approach a catholic minister, may lawfully receive the sacraments of penance, the Eucharist and anointing of the sick from non-catholic ministers in whose Churches these sacraments are valid.

§3 Catholic ministers may lawfully administer the sacraments of penance, the Eucharist and anointing of the sick to members of the eastern Churches not in full communion with the catholic Church, if they spontaneously ask for them and are properly disposed. The same applies to members of other Churches which the Apostolic See judges to be in the same position as the aforesaid eastern Churches so far as the sacraments are concerned.

§4 If there is a danger of death or if, in the judgement of the diocesan Bishop or of the Episcopal Conference, there is some other grave and pressing need, catholic ministers may lawfully administer these same sacraments to other christians not in full communion with the catholic Church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who spontaneously ask for them, provided that they demonstrate the catholic faith in respect of these sacraments and are properly disposed.

§5 In respect of the cases dealt with in §§2, 3 and 4, the diocesan Bishop or the Episcopal Conference is not to issue general norms except after consultation with the competent authority, at least at the local level, of the non-catholic Church or community concerned. *

Padre Pio believed this and practised it. And it is recorded that some he blessed in this way entered the Church as did one atheist. ( accurate bio by I think Ruffin who was one such… started research as a reporter…entered the church… )

Padre Pio could also read hearts. So he knew what spiritual medicine to “dose” people with. He was also a priest with the duty and powers of a father confessor and spiritual director. He was like a specialized, highly trained doctor with the duty and power to prescribe powerful drugs, or even do some unusual things in special cases. You could think of him as the spiritual equivalent of Dr. House, diagnosing and curing people who couldn’t be understood and helped by normal priests. (Or who helped people who didn’t trust and consult normal priests. Sometimes a normal priest can’t help us because we lie about our own troubles or just don’t tell them.)

I am not Dr. House. I am not a priest. I am not a father confessor. I also don’t read hearts. If I went around shoving Communion into the mouths of non-Catholics, or even of Catholics who had fallen away, I would be like someone randomly giving out doses of a powerful drug. I might cure them or help them, sure. But as St. Paul warns, I could kill somebody too. Even normal priests don’t usually have any right or reason to do that, and that’s why canon law talks about the situation and gives specifics. (And Padre Pio was doing his thing before that version of the canon law code.)

The traditional and permissible way to randomly help non-Christians is to slip them sacramentals that have a blessing on them. Even this is a bit random; but it’s more like giving the case to God, and leaving Him a Miraculous Medal on the person like a Post-It note in a file folder. :slight_smile:

But the really helpful thing is for non-Christians to convert and be baptized. Everything else is just a bandage, a temporary help to alleviate the real gaping hole in their lives.

While the theology has been discussed, from an organizational or ecclesiastical point of view, it does not work out so well. Following the logical progression, you wind up with people wanting to give non-Christians communion, which some denominations will actually do.

Generally, while the belief is it will bring more people “in”, it dilutes the meaning, or spiritual authority, of communion and those traditions who practice it continue the slide they have begun.

Thanks for the topic.

It would be a sacrilege for a non - Catholic to receive, since they don’t have the respect for the Eucharist.

I don’t believe that is accurate at all. There are many non-Catholics who respect the Eucharist. It brings great sadness to know that the RCC doesn’t allow them to receive when attending Mass.

Then they should become Catholic :shrug:

Not necessarily. There are many Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, Lutherans, Old Catholics, etc, who are quite happy where they are. It’s sad to know there is very little open communion between us all.

When a Catholic receives the Eucharist, they are proclaiming, among other things, the following according to the Catechism:

1369 The whole Church is united with the offering and intercession of Christ. Since he has the ministry of Peter in the Church, the Pope is associated with every celebration of the Eucharist, wherein he is named as the sign and servant of the unity of the universal Church. The bishop of the place is always responsible for the Eucharist, even when a priest presides; the bishop’s name is mentioned to signify his presidency over the particular Church, in the midst of his presbyterium and with the assistance of deacons.

1370 To the offering of Christ are united not only the members still here on earth, but also those already in the glory of heaven. In communion with and commemorating the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the saints, the Church offers the Eucharistic sacrifice. In the Eucharist the Church is as it were at the foot of the cross with Mary, united with the offering and intercession of Christ.

1374 The mode of Christ’s presence under the Eucharistic species is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as "the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend."201 In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist "the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained."202 "This presence is called ‘real’ - by which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be ‘real’ too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present."203

1376 The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: "Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation."206

1378 Worship of the Eucharist. In the liturgy of the Mass we express our faith in the real presence of Christ under the species of bread and wine by, among other ways, genuflecting or bowing deeply as a sign of adoration of the Lord. "The Catholic Church has always offered and still offers to the sacrament of the Eucharist the cult of adoration, not only during Mass, but also outside of it, reserving the consecrated hosts with the utmost care, exposing them to the solemn veneration of the faithful, and carrying them in procession."208

How could a non-Catholic receive the Eucharist in the Catholic Church if they do not hold these same beliefs?

Anybody who receives the Blessed Sacrament must be in the state of sanctifying grace to get the benefits of the sacrament. It is called a sacrament of the living. St. Paul said very clearly “Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord.” Cor 11:27.

The sacramental effects on the soul of a non-Catholic receiving Holy Communion would be limited - more so if that person has not validly received the sacraments of initiation prior to receiving Our Blessed Lord in Holy Communion.

That said, we have a priest here in our diocese who was born and raised Jewish. Before he became a Catholic ,he happened to be at St. Joseph’s Oratory one day while Mass was being celebrated, and at the elevation of the consecrated Host directly following the consecration , he knew immediately that the Catholic faith was the true faith ; he just knew.

He had received a type of infusion of faith . . . it was simply given to him by God during Mass (but as far as I know, he didn’t receive Holy Communion at that Mass).


Quite honestly, because it is Jesus who says ‘Come’ and not the rules of the church.

‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.’

‘Come to me…’

Of course your rules are respected, just as the rules of the Mormons are respected and unworthy non-Mormons do not enter their Temple.

But when my church says, ‘All are welcome to receive Jesus in the Eucharist,’ it shows a very different open-armed Christ who gathers in those who believe and those who are not certain. It makes no difference.

These two understandings of the Eucharist are very different, I know.

By respect, I mean believing that The Eucharist is the actual Body & Blood of Christ & not just symbolic.
I’m sure this the teaching of the Catholic Church.

Yes, of course it is the teaching of the Catholic Church, as well as other branches of the Church. You are not alone in this.

The problem here is that by participating in Holy Communion you are showing yourself to be IN union with the Church. If you’re not a Catholic by definition you’re NOT in union with the Church. This is one of the reasons Catholics practice closed Communion.

I totally understand that. The same holds true for Mormons. You cannot enter the Temple unless you are a worthy Mormon. It’s the same concept.

My point was that Jesus wants to feed everyone.

No. Allowing non-Catholics to receive the Eucharist at will would only do them harm, not good. First of all the vast majority of non-Catholics don’t practice any kind of sacrament of reconciliation (and would likely be invalid in the CC even if they did) so virtually no non-Catholic would be properly disposed to receive. That alone is reason enough to shut down this question, but then take into account the fact that you have to be in union with the Church and all of its teachings to receive the Eucharist (I am paraphrasing here) and it just doesn’t make any sense to do this. In order to do this the Catholic Church would have to change its teachings on the Eucharist, and that is something that can’t be done. This is one of those feel-good ideas that sounds great when you say it, but the logic and theology behind the Eucharist quickly dismiss the idea when you examine the arguments (or lack thereof) in favor of it.

That’s the reason why we cannot give our Holy Communion to you unless in the special circumstances prescribed by our rule.

I cannot speak for your church but non-Catholics are not given Communion in the Catholic Church, is because they are not in Communion with us under the same Pope, which is the primary sign and objective of the Communion.

Thus in order for you to receive it has to fall within the allowance given in canon 844 which I think not many Protestants would want.

While it is the wish of the Catholic Church that one day we shall be one in Communion, we must first work it out to fit into its requirement.

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