Inter-Communion with Lutherans

The possibility of the Church entertaining “limited inter-communion” with Lutherans has now been publicly discussed by two Cardinals: +Kasper and now +Marx. The latter has even said this is something the Holy Father is interested in exploring. I don’t want this thread to discuss whether this will ever happen or whether the Holy Father actually has any interest in this proposal…I want to discuss it from a hypothetical perspective. Two Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church seem to think this is a possibility. These are not unintelligent men. These are learned bishops of the Church. What might their line of thinking be? What possible theological justification might there be for such a proposal?
I understand limited inter-communion with the Assyrians, such as formally exists between the Chaldean Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East. We mutually recognize each others sacraments. In the case of Lutherans, the Church has been very clear: their Eucharist is not, from a Catholic perspective, valid. How can inter-communion even be discussed as a hypothetical, by bishops of the Church, if we don’t accept that one of the parties even has true “Communion” to begin with?
Any thoughts?

I would also be interested in hearing a good, strong, theological argument for why this should be at all possible. This story has been out there for several months now, and I know I’ve definitely seen plenty of good arguments already on why it should NOT be possible.

My guess is the argument will go the whole “it’s practice not doctrine” route like has been done with AL. Those in favor of intercommunion will claim that it’s just a practice that Lutherans can’t receive communion in the Catholic Church, and that the rules can be changed. I’m not saying that this argument makes any sense theologically, but my prediction is that will be the argument they go to. Those who push back will be accused of legalism and being like the Pharisees. Another possibility is that there will be little theological argument offered at all by the supporters of this proposition, but rather it this change will be justified as being a good step towards improving relations with the Lutheran community, along with other “feel good” arguments with little substance.

I have no idea how there could ever be any justification for a Catholic receiving communion at a Lutheran Church.

Communion with Anglicans seems more theologically possible than Lutherans. Lutherans don’t even have churches in the way the Catholic and Orthodox do, not even claiming apostolic succession, to my knowledge. I’m not sure I understand how there can even be grounds for it.

That’s not me putting my foot down on the matter. I’m just being honest about not understanding how we can be at (or near) a point of inter-communion yet. I’d be up to hearing more.

Bishop Cornelius Jansen is also a learned Bishop of the Church. He also pushed the Jansenist heresy. Remember, just because one is a Cardinal or a Bishop does not guarantee infallibility.

Of course, but even if they are incorrect, they must have some sort of basis for this proposal. What is it?
Cardinal Marx is in the Holy Father’s inner circle - the Council of Cardinals (group of 9 as some call it) - and he claims the Pope is personally interested in this proposal. What’s the theological argument?

Maybe it’s just to explore a way forward, what would be necessary. Something which at best is some decades away, not anytime soon.

Lutherans don’t even inter-commune each other.

Don’t even know what they mean by inter communion.

No intetest in taking communion in a Lutheran Church because i dont share their beliefs.

And i see no basis for allowing Lutherans Communion in a Catholic Church. Divorce/remarriage, no sacraments to ensure there’s no mortal sin.

I suppose they could have bread that’s had a simple blessing by a deacon or layperson…and they could call it Communion of sorts .:shrug:

I read this article about Lutherans last month receiving communion at the Vatican already.

lifesitenews.com/news/lutherans-receive-communion-at-vatican-after-meeting-with-pope-report

It also mentions an instance in:

ROME, November 20, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – In a speech to a gathering of Lutherans Sunday, Pope Francis told a Lutheran woman asking about receiving Communion with her Catholic husband to “go forward” guided by individual conscience.

I also read that Pope Francis has been invited to Germany by the Lutheran Bishops.

I am not sure what to think :confused:

Certain Lutheran denominations or churches actually do claim apostolic succession. I researched the claims and found they ignored significant historical details.

I think one of the most informative things that needs to be brought into this discussion is Pope St. John Paul the Great’s wonderful encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia and I’ll post sections that are specifically relevant.

[LEFT]

[size=3]43. In considering the Eucharist as the sacrament of ecclesial communion, there is one subject which, due to its importance, must not be overlooked: I am referring to the relationship of the Eucharist to ecumenical activity

. We should all give thanks to the Blessed Trinity for the many members of the faithful throughout the world who in recent decades have felt an ardent desire for unity among all Christians. The Second Vatican Council, at the beginning of its Decree on Ecumenism, sees this as a special gift of God.89 It was an efficacious grace which inspired us, the sons and daughters of the Catholic Church and our brothers and sisters from other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, to set forth on the path of ecumenism.

Our longing for the goal of unity prompts us to turn to the Eucharist, which is the supreme sacrament of the unity of the People of God, in as much as it is the apt expression and the unsurpassable source of that unity.90 In the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice the Church prays that God, the Father of mercies, will grant his children the fullness of the Holy Spirit so that they may become one body and one spirit in Christ.91 In raising this prayer to the Father of lights, from whom comes every good endowment and every perfect gift (cf. *Jas *1:17), the Church believes that she will be heard, for she prays in union with Christ her Head and Spouse, who takes up this plea of his Bride and joins it to that of his own redemptive sacrifice.

  1. Precisely because the Church’s unity, which the Eucharist brings about through the Lord’s sacrifice and by communion in his body and blood, absolutely requires full communion in the bonds of the profession of faith, the sacraments and ecclesiastical governance, it is not possible to celebrate together the same Eucharistic liturgy until those bonds are fully re-established. Any such concelebration would not be a valid means, and might well prove instead to be an obstacle, to the attainment of full communion, by weakening the sense of how far we remain from this goal and by introducing or exacerbating ambiguities with regard to one or another truth of the faith. The path towards full unity can only be undertaken in truth. In this area, the prohibitions of Church law leave no room for uncertainty,92 in fidelity to the moral norm laid down by the Second Vatican Council.93

I would like nonetheless to reaffirm what I said in my Encyclical Letter Ut Unum Sint after having acknowledged the impossibility of Eucharistic sharing: “And yet we do have a burning desire to join in celebrating the one Eucharist of the Lord, and this desire itself is already a common prayer of praise, a single supplication. Together we speak to the Father and increasingly we do so ‘with one heart’”.94[/size][/LEFT]

  1. In considering the Eucharist as the sacrament of ecclesial communion, there is one subject which, due to its importance, must not be overlooked: I am referring to the relationship of the Eucharist to ecumenical activity. We should all give thanks to the Blessed Trinity for the many members of the faithful throughout the world who in recent decades have felt an ardent desire for unity among all Christians. The Second Vatican Council, at the beginning of its Decree on Ecumenism, sees this as a special gift of God.89 It was an efficacious grace which inspired us, the sons and daughters of the Catholic Church and our brothers and sisters from other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, to set forth on the path of ecumenism.
    [LEFT]
    Our longing for the goal of unity prompts us to turn to the Eucharist, which is the supreme sacrament of the unity of the People of God, in as much as it is the apt expression and the unsurpassable source of that unity.90 In the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice the Church prays that God, the Father of mercies, will grant his children the fullness of the Holy Spirit so that they may become one body and one spirit in Christ.91 In raising this prayer to the Father of lights, from whom comes every good endowment and every perfect gift (cf. *Jas *1:17), the Church believes that she will be heard, for she prays in union with Christ her Head and Spouse, who takes up this plea of his Bride and joins it to that of his own redemptive sacrifice.
  1. Precisely because the Church’s unity, which the Eucharist brings about through the Lord’s sacrifice and by communion in his body and blood, absolutely requires full communion in the bonds of the profession of faith, the sacraments and ecclesiastical governance, it is not possible to celebrate together the same Eucharistic liturgy until those bonds are fully re-established. Any such concelebration would not be a valid means, and might well prove instead to be an obstacle, to the attainment of full communion, by weakening the sense of how far we remain from this goal and by introducing or exacerbating ambiguities with regard to one or another truth of the faith. The path towards full unity can only be undertaken in truth. In this area, the prohibitions of Church law leave no room for uncertainty,92 in fidelity to the moral norm laid down by the Second Vatican Council.93

I would like nonetheless to reaffirm what I said in my Encyclical Letter Ut Unum Sint after having acknowledged the impossibility of Eucharistic sharing: “And yet we do have a burning desire to join in celebrating the one Eucharist of the Lord, and this desire itself is already a common prayer of praise, a single supplication. Together we speak to the Father and increasingly we do so ‘with one heart’”.94[/LEFT]

The entire encyclical is an amazing teaching document and has greatly informed my own understanding and devotion to the Eucharist and the Mass.

I would also keep in mind that discussion and consideration do not infer final approval and we can wait with prayerful patience to see what happens.

It seems that there is already one-way inter-communion of a sort with Lutherans; individual Lutherans, in certain circumstances, may already receive Holy Communion at a Catholic Mass. However, before inter-communion the other way can take place, before Catholics can receive Lutheran Holy Communion in any circumstances, the validity of Lutheran Holy Communion must first be recognized by the Catholic Church and that would seem to require that the validity of Lutheran Holy Orders be recognized by the Catholic Church and that would seem to require that the validity of Lutheran claims of apostolic succession be recognized by the Catholic Church.

The Code of Canon Law has this to say about inter-communion, underlining mine:

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.

Yes…and for one more important note, Luherans do not even recognize Holy Orders as a sacrament…:shrug:

Church of Sweden does claim Apostolic Succession.

But then again (correct me if I am wrong), ELCA do not even allow inter-communion with the Church of Sweden.

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