Episcopal Communion at a Funeral

My wife, who is Roman Catholic, recently attended a large funeral at an Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Priest invited all in attendance to receive communion. My wife didn’t think she should, but since all the other Catholics she knew did receive, and it seemed as though everyone in the church received, she also went ahead and received communion.

Should she not have received and why?

[quote=Journeyman]My wife, who is Roman Catholic, recently attended a large funeral at an Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Priest invited all in attendance to receive communion. My wife didn’t think she should, but since all the other Catholics she knew did receive, and it seemed as though everyone in the church received, she also went ahead and received communion.

Should she not have received and why?
[/quote]


It’s a mortal sin to participate in the worship of nonCatholic religions.

[quote=Journeyman]…but since all the other Catholics she knew did receive, and it seemed as though everyone in the church received, she also went ahead and received communion.

[/quote]

Which is exactly why Catholics shouldn’t receive communion at non-Catholic services. Even if we know its just bread, someone might see us receiving and assume that we think its real and thus be led into error by our actions.

[quote=Journeyman]My wife, who is Roman Catholic, recently attended a large funeral at an Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Priest invited all in attendance to receive communion. My wife didn’t think she should, but since all the other Catholics she knew did receive, and it seemed as though everyone in the church received, she also went ahead and received communion.

Should she not have received and why?
[/quote]

I am Anglican and not Catholic. But I think the answer from a RC p.o.v. would be:

  1. The Anglican priest’s orders are probably not valid, and even if valid are not licit. (Anglican orders were declared invalid some centuries ago, by one of the Popes Leo I believe. Due to some change in Anglican rubrics in the way Holy Order were conferred. (The rubrics were eventually changed back, but by that time it is said that there was no living person in Anglicanism who still had valid orders or the capacity to pass them on to other Anglican priests). However, many Anglican priests and bishops have in the past many decades been co-ordained by Old Catholics, former Catholic priests who became Anglicans, or vagante Orthodox, whose orders would be ‘valid but illicit’). One cannot receive communion from a priest with valid orders who is acting as a priest ‘illicitly’.

  2. The Anglican Church does not officially teach the Real Presence in the Eucharist. (Nor do they deny it explicitly: about half of all Anglicans accept it, and about half probably don’t). The RCC would not be comfortable with this ambiguity of doctrine.

  3. To receive Eucharist in a non-Catholic church would be tantamont to acknowledging that one is in full communion with a Christian body which is in fact NOT in communion with the Roman Catholic Church.

All of which, being said, does not mean that your wife incurred any penalty of excommunication: assuming she was in sincere doubt as to what to do and acted with the intent to avoid causing needless offense. (In some cases, of course, one must act according the principles of faith and a properly-formed conscience, even if offense occurs: I am simply suggesting that your wife was caught off-guard and unprepared and acted as she saw best at the moment, for which there MAY HAVE BEEN no sin involved. Depends on other factors of course). She DOES have a responsibility to inform herself and properly form her conscience against a future recurrence of the situation, but assuming good faith on her part, no mortal sin occurred IN THIS INSTANCE. I think I am speaking accurately. Let’s see if someone blasts my comments out of the water.

This said: what did your wife think of the Anglican service?

Your wife should go to Confession at the first possible moment.

JMJ Jay

1896, Leo XIII, APOSTOLICAE CURAE, the Edwardine Ordinal.

GKC

Traditional Anglcaini

[quote=flameburns623]I am Anglican and not Catholic. But I think the answer from a RC p.o.v. would be:

  1. The Anglican priest’s orders are probably not valid, and even if valid are not licit. (Anglican orders were declared invalid some centuries ago, by one of the Popes Leo I believe. Due to some change in Anglican rubrics in the way Holy Order were conferred. (The rubrics were eventually changed back, but by that time it is said that there was no living person in Anglicanism who still had valid orders or the capacity to pass them on to other Anglican priests). However, many Anglican priests and bishops have in the past many decades been co-ordained by Old Catholics, former Catholic priests who became Anglicans, or vagante Orthodox, whose orders would be ‘valid but illicit’). One cannot receive communion from a priest with valid orders who is acting as a priest ‘illicitly’.

  2. The Anglican Church does not officially teach the Real Presence in the Eucharist. (Nor do they deny it explicitly: about half of all Anglicans accept it, and about half probably don’t). The RCC would not be comfortable with this ambiguity of doctrine.

  3. To receive Eucharist in a non-Catholic church would be tantamont to acknowledging that one is in full communion with a Christian body which is in fact NOT in communion with the Roman Catholic Church.

All of which, being said, does not mean that your wife incurred any penalty of excommunication: assuming she was in sincere doubt as to what to do and acted with the intent to avoid causing needless offense. (In some cases, of course, one must act according the principles of faith and a properly-formed conscience, even if offense occurs: I am simply suggesting that your wife was caught off-guard and unprepared and acted as she saw best at the moment, for which there MAY HAVE BEEN no sin involved. Depends on other factors of course). She DOES have a responsibility to inform herself and properly form her conscience against a future recurrence of the situation, but assuming good faith on her part, no mortal sin occurred IN THIS INSTANCE. I think I am speaking accurately. Let’s see if someone blasts my comments out of the water.

This said: what did your wife think of the Anglican service?
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[quote=katolik]
It’s a mortal sin to participate in the worship of nonCatholic religions.
[/quote]

bunk.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, section 1857: For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met:'Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent".

I think there is little question but that the receiving of communion is ‘grave matter’ and that Journeyman’s wife did so with ‘deliberate consent’. However, it is questionable that she had ‘full knowledge’–to the contrary, she was confused, and moreover took her lead in deciding what was appropriate by observing others who were known to be Catholics, in the midst of a rather sensitive situation. It seems to me that at least one of the conditions for a mortal sin to occur may not have been present. (See also CCC sections 1859 and 1860 for discussions of ‘full knowledge’).

‘Confession is good for the soul’. But I suspect that Journeyman’s wife will not find herself excoriated to any great degree by her confessor, should she choose to bring this matter to him posthaste. Assuming of course that the confessor is not ‘Katolik’, who seems a bit anxious to bring down condemnation on this woman’s head.

So far as I know, attending a Protestant funeral is in most cases entirely acceptable in and of itself. (The exception might be if the Protestant were an ex-Catholic who died expressly rejecting the Roman Catholic Church). This issue concerns the receipt of communion by Journeyman’s Catholic wife, which she should not have done. But she apparently was sincerely in doubt about the rules and seems to have had no wicked intent in her action.

Acting as aide and driver for a disabled friend, I drove her several times to Episcopal churches for services (she is studying in an Episcopal seminary). I was always invited to partake of communion but politely declined, simply saying that as a Catholic I could not, and would consider it an abuse of their hospitality to do so since I could not share their belief. This resulted in several long conversations with one particular minister (a former Catholic who joined Episcopal Church over a marriage issue). She and hubby, also an ex-Catholic are now in RCIA, have formally left the Episcopal church and ministry, and will shortly be in full communion with the Catholic Church. that was over 5 years ago, but illustrates the importance of firmness and consistency as witness and evangelizing.

Thank you all for your thoughtful responses. Is there official Church teaching on this matter? I didn’t seem to find anything in the CCC regarding the sinful nature of receiving communion in a protestant church. If this comes up again, or if my wife tries to tell her Catholic friends who also received at the funeral, I would like her to be able to show them actual Church teachings regarding the sinful nature of receiving communion outside the Catholic Church.

I have asked my Priest about this. In fact 2 different Priests. My wife attends a non-denominational Church and they participate once a month. They both said it is OK. Only IF i realize that it is not the REAL Presence. Plus, if it would make your wife upset to not take it then to go ahead and do it as long as you know it is not the real presence. Obviously, I don’t. I still have felt weird about taking it. I basically take it just to have something to do to get through those 1 hr 30 minute services.

[quote=uofl19]I have asked my Priest about this. In fact 2 different Priests. My wife attends a non-denominational Church and they participate once a month. They both said it is OK. Only IF i realize that it is not the REAL Presence. Plus, if it would make your wife upset to not take it then to go ahead and do it as long as you know it is not the real presence. Obviously, I don’t. I still have felt weird about taking it. I basically take it just to have something to do to get through those 1 hr 30 minute services.
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No way is this “OK”. Even I, the Anglican, know better than that. ROMAN CATHOLICS CANNOT RECEIVE COMMUNION EXCEPT FROM A VALIDLY-ORDAINED ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST ACTING LICITLY. Only exception I know of is that in some cases there is some sort of permission to receive from an Orthodox priest. Except that the Orthodox priest is unlikely to give a known Roman Catholic the sacraments. I’m sure someone can cite chapter-and-verse for this: it’s a question which comes up on EWTN almost weekly.

Catholics can attend some sorts of events, such as funerals, for serious reasons. But they cannot participate in the religious parts of such services in most cases. (They MIGHT be able to serve as pall-bearers or render military honors, in other words). They cannot offer prayers, sermons, or otherwise act in a religous capacity.

Roman Catholic priests have told parishioners that contraception or abortion are acceptable. Roman Catholic priests have concelebrated Masses with traditionalist Anglican priests. They have permitted Anglican priests to concelebrate with them. Various ‘ecumenical’ events take place which are–properly speaking–NOT permissible. When asking what the ‘rules’ are, one needs to get chapter-and-verse on where the rule is to be found and what it says. Even then, one should check things out against two or more independent, conservative, and reliable sources. And take into consideration–especially on this forum–that some who post here are ultratraditionalists whose answers would be stricter than what the mainstream Catholic Church officially teaches.

Obviously the Anglicans, even we conservative ones rarely care about such issues. Our communion is generally ‘open’ and we hold to a ‘broad church’ philosophy. The RCC, however, is considerably more strict. It is because some RCC priests are doing such a poor job of following rules and policies themselves that I suspect that Journyman’s wife probably made an honest mistake for which no mortal sin occurred. I keep hoping someone will weigh in who can speak with some measure of specificity about what the rules really are.

[quote=katherine2]bunk.
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May we presume you are not Catholic?

Catholics may join our non-Catholic brethren in some common worship, but we may not receive commuion.

Our Anglican brother’s response was 99.9% correct. But any Catholic is responsible for KNOWING not to receive in a non-Catholic Church, for all the reasons so well stated.

Thank you all for your thoughtful responses. Is there official Church teaching on this matter?

Yes. It is against canon law.

Code of Canon Law
vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P2T.HTM

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.

Yo! FlameBurns. You remind me of me. In my Anglican days, I could state the Catholic position better than most Catholics. It made me credible to them. Now that I’m Catholic, they just think I’m a crank.

I have asked my Priest about this. In fact 2 different Priests. … They both said it is OK.

They are both wrong.

Perhaps you can do me a favor, and show these two priest what it says in the Code of Canon Law, canon 844.

itsjustdave,

ok, thanks for the Canon Law reference. That is helpful, although it is not real clear to me. Canon Law refers to licitly receiving sacraments, which I think would only refer to Catholic sacraments. It would not be licit for a Catholic to go to Reconciliation with a layperson, or to a deacon I suppose, since they are not the valid minister of that sacrament. Same thing for other sacraments (deacon can preside for some sacraments though).

But in this case, the Catholics receiving the Episcopal communion did not think it was a valid Catholic sacrament. My wife knew it was not the body and blood of Jesus Christ. This Canon Law reference doesn’t make it clear cut.

[quote=mercygate]May we presume you are not Catholic?

Catholics may join our non-Catholic brethren in some common worship, but we may not receive commuion.

Our Anglican brother’s response was 99.9% correct. But any Catholic is responsible for KNOWING not to receive in a non-Catholic Church, for all the reasons so well stated.
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Culpability is an internal matter, a matter of the intellect, and of the spirit. And there is ever the issue of ‘where’ to find accurate answers. Had Journeyman’s wife had recourse to ask of uofl19’s priests, she would have been given a wrong answer, Life is full of very important things which faith instructs us we should stay abreast on. We ought all to pray daily, excecise daily, eat adequately nutritious food, spend ‘quality time’ with our spouse, family, and friends, serve the needy, render a fair day’s labor to our employers, ensure we get 8 hours of sleep and drink 64 fluid ounces of water, etcetera. And that’s a partial list.

The sheer volume ensures that we will fall short in some areas, perhaps many of them. Journeyman’s wife seems to have made a mistake. She wasn’t certain at the moment what to do, and the charitable thing was to err on the side of graciousness (she was at a funeral, for goodness sake!!!), and to follow the example of other Catholics. She is finding out the ‘official’ policy after the fact, which is probably more than some of the other Catholics at the funeral are doing. I am not excusing or commending her, just suggesting that YOU are judging her rather more harshly than the situation demands, and more harshly than her confessor, the Church itself, or God seems likely to judge her. Charity seemeth me the batter part of valor here.

[quote=Mercygate]Yo! FlameBurns. You remind me of me. In my Anglican days, I could state the Catholic position better than most Catholics. It made me credible to them. Now that I’m Catholic, they just think I’m a crank.
[/quote]

Thanks but I was not at all certain how accurate I was being. Thanks to ‘itsjustdave1988’ for weighing in with the citation from canon law.

From an article by canon lawyer, Colin B. Donovan, STL:

Communion of non-Catholics or Intercommunion
ewtn.com/expert/answers/intercommunion.htm

Here’s an excerpt:

… the question of Catholics receiving the sacraments from non-Catholics. It [canon 844] sets the following strict conditions:
a. necessity or genuine spiritual advantage
b. when the danger of error or indifferentism is avoided
c. it is physically or morally impossible to approach a Catholic minister
d. a church which has valid sacraments

This last condition is the key one, since it eliminates ALL the Reformation churches (Anglican, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist etc.), none of whom have valid sacred orders, and therefore, a valid Eucharist. [emphasis added]

What if a non-Catholic church offers, not “communion”, but a simple offering of bread and wine, which is seen as a meal, rather than a sacrament? How would a Catholic approach that situation?

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