Giving Eucharist to Non-Catholics


#1

When I go to the local Anglican Use Church, I sometimes see Father Rob sometimes give the Eucharist to known non-Catholics (well, people he knows to be non-Catholic). I’ve expressed my concern about this more than once to him. He gives this answer, basically: that it’s not on his conscience whether he gives communion to the non-Catholic, but on the conscience of the person receiving it. That is, it’s their job, not his, to know what the Eucharist is, and to choose to or not to come up for it.

I do not like this, as it feels like Father is complicit in the non-Catholic’s non-conversion. But what Father says makes some logical sense. And it does make sense that when even a non-Catholic or a Catholic in mortal sin comes in contact with any sacrament, God will not allow it to occur in vain. Because in any sacrament, a man comes in contact with God.

Which leaves me with two questions:

  1. Is Father right? Or is what I learned at St. Vincent of Lerins (a Western Rite Orthodox church) right - that people known to be outside of the Church, externally, should not be allowed to receive communion, regardless of the state of their conscience?

  2. If Father is wrong, what ought I do about it? Go over his head?


#2

I wonder if the priest has spoken to those non-Catholics in person? If he knows them, it would make sense for him to approach them on a one-to-one basis and explain what the Church teaches about the Eucharist and about who is able to receive and why. This would go along with what Jesus said about approaching a sinner alone first in hopes of helping him turn from his sin. Maybe they do not know they should not be receiving the Eucharist.

As for refusing Communion to someone, that seems to be a tricky call. For instance if you know someone has been committing mortal sin, you may not also know that that person has made a good confession afterwards. Only God can judge the soul. It seems to me the priest’s job is to make sure people know the truth and that he tries to lead them to following the Truth. After that it is up the the person to do so.

As for speaking to the priest and/or reporting him, personally I wouldn’t report what you have witnessed. However, if I heard the priest teaching against or in opposition to what the Church teaches, then the same idea seems to apply: go to the priest first and discuss it with him. If he persists, go back with one or two others to talk to him and after that, if necessary, report him to the bishop. After that, it is no longer in your hands. Your part then is simply to pray and fast for the priest and all those who are listening to false teaching.


#3

By the way, I see I didn’t answer one of your questions. You are right. In order to receive the Eucharist one must be a Catholic in a state of grace and normally to have fasted for one hour before Communion.


#4

Guidelines For The Reception Of Communion (USCCB)

We welcome our fellow Christians to this celebration of the Eucharist as our brothers and sisters. We pray that our common baptism and the action of the Holy Spirit in this Eucharist will draw us closer to one another and begin to dispel the sad divisions which separate us. We pray that these will lessen and finally disappear, in keeping with Christ’s prayer for us “that they may all be one” (Jn 17:21).

Because Catholics believe that the celebration of the Eucharist is a sign of the reality of the oneness of faith, life, and worship, members of those churches with whom we are not yet fully united are ordinarily not admitted to Holy Communion. Eucharistic sharing in exceptional circumstances by other Christians requires permission according to the directives of the diocesan bishop and the provisions of canon law (canon 844 §4). Members of the Orthodox Churches, the Assyrian Church of the East, and the Polish National Catholic Church are urged to respect the discipline of their own Churches. According to Roman Catholic discipline, the Code of Canon Law does not object to the reception of Communion by Christians of these Churches (canon 844 §3).

It would seem clear that the priest needs permission from his ordinary, individually for every exception he makes regarding the reception by non-Catholics.

I feel that Father is wrong about conscience; the minister of Holy Communion is bound by certain laws, and the pastor of a place especially is to protect the Eucharist from profanation, which is what this would be if your observations are correct.


#5

There is a Papal encyclical (Ecclesia Eucharistia- john Paul II) explaining when the eucharist can be given to non-catholics:

"This administration is limited to “Christians who are not in full communion with the Catholic Church but who greatly desire to receive these sacraments, freely request them and manifest the faith which the Catholic Church professes with regard to these sacraments.”


#6

well that explains tony bliar we were always taught if you could not find a catholic church then a CofE would do!


#7

Only the Pope can knowingly give the Eucharist to a non-Catholic. A diocesan priest is not supposed to give the Eucharist to anyone he knows is not Catholic.

The priest typically has no way to know if every person who approaches him is Catholic. If someone presents themselves for communion and the priest doesn’t know they are not Catholic, and there is no reason to suspect they are not Catholic then the priest’s conscience should be clean.

My mom is not Catholic. My daughter told her that she shouldn’t receive communion during a family visit. Mom insisted, “I can receive if I want.” to which my daughter replied, “OK, but I told you so now it is on your soul, not mine.”

-Tim-


#8

In this matter, the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” (section 1401) draws attention to canon 844 in the code of canon law which says “If the danger of death is present or other grave necessity, in the judgment of the diocesan bishop or the conference of bishops, Catholic ministers may licitly administer these sacraments [the eucharist, penance, and the anointing of the sick] 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.”
Many Catholics aren’t aware that it is possible to give communion to non-Catholics in exceptional circumstances.
Because of this possibility, which the preceding poster also pointed out,I would think it best simply to assume good will in the matter to such a priest


#9

I would respectfully ask mdgspencer in what respect he believes that both danger of death and impossibility to approach a minister of their own faith exists in the non-Catholic faithful approaching for Holy Communion in an ordinary Sunday Mass in an Anglican Use parish?


#10

What could possibly be a “grave necessity” (apart from near death) that a non-Catholic would have to receive Communion in a Catholic Church. Even Catholics are only REQUIRED to receive Communion once a year during the Easter period.


#11

Growing up I was ALWAYS told that if I absolutely can’t get to Mass, go to the CofE or Cof I.

I’d never receive communion, but when I can’t get to Mass although it doesn’t fulfil the obligation, it’s better than nothing. Plus, the music is spot on.

I have nothing to contribute to the discussion other than I have always believed as the Church teaches regarding giving communion to non-Catholics.


#12

Fr. Rob told me that he can’t judge the conscience of the person who goes up to the communion rail; he can’t say whether a person has or has not decided to become a Catholic, or to believe in the Real Presence. And so, I assume as a matter of charity, he will assume the good - that the man feels compulsed by the Holy Spirit to receive - and give communion to someone, even if they are known to be Protestants.

Oy. Thankfully, he is certain that he is actually bringing Christ to us, in flesh and blood, and not merely symbols.

But I think I agree with the Orthodox position: sharing the Eucharist is a goal, not a means.


#13

Am I the only one confused by the OP"s question on a Catholic Answers website as to why the priest at the Anglican use Church is not concerned about non-Catholics receiving communion?


#14

“Anglican Use” refers to the liturgy of a Catholic parish in communion with Rome. It is either associated with the Ordinariates or with the arch/diocese and under the Pastoral Provision.


#15

I am not sure if it is up to any of us to judge Father’s actions as right or wrong - that is for his Bishop. Maybe he should deny them communion and cause a scene at the altar? Maybe he should give them communion and then approach them after Church? I don’t know a proper answer however it appears that he has made a pastoral decision and in the end he owes the final explanation to God.

Since you have patiently and respectfully expressed your opinion and Father has given his reply, your next choice is to consult the Pastor, or, if he is the Pastor, to bring the matter to the attention of the Bishop.


#16

lmgtfy.com/?q=anglican+use

Ask and you shall receive.

OK. Fair enough.:shrug:

Since you have patiently and respectfully expressed your opinion and Father has given his reply, your next choice is to consult the Pastor, or, if he is the Pastor, to bring the matter to the attention of the Bishop.

He is the pastor; time to contact Monsignor Steenson, I think.


#17

Is it CoE? Orthodox have valid communion.


#18

perhaps, I wasn’t clear go to service but not partake in communion


#19

The priest needs to advise those persons he knows that are not Catholic in private that they cannot receive Communion and that in the future he must refrain from giving them Communion.

This way if they feel embarrassed when refused, it will have been their own decision and it will be out of the hands of the priest.

If the priest knows these people and they are former friends from his former denomination, it is probably difficult for him to turn them away. I assume they might feel he doesn’t respect their decision to stay in their church.

Since the Ordinariate is new, it seems wise for all the new clergy to be careful that they are abiding by the Catholic teachings, so that some don’t accept them as truly Catholic.

I am sure it must be a difficult position he is in.

Yours in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary

Bernadette


#20

I imagine he has. He also posts it in the bulletin every week, along with the announcements.

If the priest knows these people and they are former friends from his former denomination, it is probably difficult for him to turn them away. I assume they might feel he doesn’t respect their decision to stay in their church.

Oh, he does. All too well does he “respect” their decision. I think he has an idea that our relationship to TEC and orthodox Lutherans is something like the our relationship to the Orthodox. They are often friends, or at least like-minded, in being High Church. And I sympathise in that respect. I understand that he would feel like he’s hurting his friends if he outright denied them communion. And that’s tough.

But I can’t help but wonder what our High Priest thinks about His representative serving a false communion. :frowning:

Since the Ordinariate is new, it seems wise for all the new clergy to be careful that they are abiding by the Catholic teachings, so that some don’t accept them as truly Catholic.

I am sure it must be a difficult position he is in.

Yours in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary

Bernadette

Yeah. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to admit to oneself that you had been wrong and serving that wrongness in a fundamental aspect of your life for several decades. Thank God Our Lord loves us, and will not condemn us for our sins and errors, as long as we repent, no matter how crushing it feels at times.

Most everyone in the Ordinariate is rather brave - especially the ones who got caught in fighting the legal battles with TEC.


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