According to my reading both the EO and RCC both reject open communion and support the closed communion model. But I have a question about intercommunion between the churches.

In highschool, I was told by a Catholic priest during the mass “If you are an Orthodox Christian, you are welcome to partake of the Eucharist”. But, as an Orthodox I am forbidden to partake of the Eucharist in a Catholic church (in normal circumstances).

I was wondering does the Catholic church allow their parishioners to partake of the Orthodox Eucharist in normal circumstances (For example, even if there is a catholic church just down the road)? What is the consequence? Is it mortal sin to do so?

Any relevant quotes from the catechism would be appreciated.

God bless.

Orthodox are welcome to Commune at any Catholic Church, assuming they do so willingly. Likewise, Catholics may approach Orthodox ministers for certain Sacraments (Confession, Annointing of the Sick, and the Eucharist) if there is genuine spiritual benefit or need. The canon from the Latin Code (which is the strictest Catholic Church on the matter) is:

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.

§2. Whenever necessity requires it or true spiritual advantage suggests it, and provided that danger of error or of indifferentism is avoided, the Christian faithful for whom it is physically or morally impossible to approach a Catholic minister are permitted to receive the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick from non-
Catholic ministers in whose Churches these sacraments are valid.

§3. Catholic ministers administer the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick licitly to members of Eastern Churches which do not have full communion with the Catholic Church if they seek such on their own accord and are properly disposed. This is also valid for members of other Churches which in the judgment of the Apostolic See are in the same condition in regard to the sacraments as these Eastern Churches.

The condition “it is physically or morally impossible to approach a Catholic minister” is broad and vague, and can be interpreted narrowly (there is no Catholic minister at this Liturgy, so I can receive from the Orthodox) or broadly (there is no Catholic minister anywhere nearby, or I can’t reach them without doing harm to myself and others). Usually I’ve found that the narrow meaning is applied.

Remember, that is the Latin canon. Other Churches have their own practices. The Melkite Church, for example, is much less strict on the “no Catholic ministers available”, and would generally allow Melkites to receive Communion at an Eastern Orthodox parish that was across the street from a Latin one.

Also, in our printed guidelines (I attend the local Melkite Mission) Catholics and Orthodox are refered to indifferently when it comes to the requirements for receiving the Eucharist. For example, when exhorting to not approaching the Eucharist if you are in a sexual relationship outside of marriage, the priest wrote “a marriage not recognized by the Catholic/Orthodox Churches”.

Our community is mixed Antiochian Orthodox and Melkite (generally from mixed marriages), and it’s typical for families to go between Catholic and Orthodox Liturgies and events, and generally they will receive the Eucharist at whichever Church they happen to be at with no hackles raised by anyone.

Hope that helps! Peace and God bless!

In the remote areas, many Russian Orthodox pastors in Alaska consider Catholics sufficiently orthodox to be communed if they have been to confession at the same parish. Economia… They generally consider Eastern Catholics close enough. It doesn’t happen at the major Urban churches. It has happened at remote ones. Then again, we also have non-OCA Russian Orthodox, and also Old Believers, scattered throughout the state. (We have a former Evangelical Orthodox parish that is now Antiochian, and Greek Orthodox in Anchorage.)

On the other hand, we at St. Nicholas often have Orthodox who attend. One parishioner didn’t realize we were Catholic for over 10 years (and 8 kids baptised)… and it was a non-issue for all involved, including her family.

We permit them, if they themselves permit themselves, to receive.

Hypothetically, if my friend who is a Catholic decides he wants to attend my church (the Orthodox Church) for a week to see what it is all about - then decides to take communion when I’m not paying attention.

Is that Catholic committing sin by attending an Orthodox parish and taking communion? Does this fulfill his Sunday obligation? Is it mortal sin to partake of the Eucharist from “heretical” churches?

After all shouldnt the Catholic church consider the Orthodox heretical since they reject the Immaculate conception and Papal Infallibility which are both connected to the most heavy anathemas?

God bless.

Assuming that the Catholic has every opportunity to go to Catholic Mass and receive the sacraments from a Catholic priest, then they may well be sinning - as the Catechism indicates, the Orthodox liturgy and sacrament are only to be substituted in cases whrere the Catholic sacraments are an impossibility.

Please note that the Orthodox church is not considered a “heretical church” it is considered by the Catholic church as a “separated church.”

The Catholic church considers the the EO as a valid church with valid sacraments and apostolic succession.

Per the CCEO, no, he or she is not, provided they did not willfully misrepresent themselves and had sought permission of the pastor prior. It’s unusual for an Orthodox priest to commune someone they do not recognize… but far from unheard of.

If you were not Orthodox, but, say, Lutheran, it would have been.

No. A Catholic must attend a liturgy in communion with the pope to fulfill the obligation. If he wants go to to Divine Liturgy with you and still fulfill the obligation, he would additionally have to go to Mass on Saturday night or some other time Sunday.

This is not what I ws told by an Eastern Catholic priest.

Different Churches have different policies. The Assyrian (non-Catholic) and Chaldeans (Catholic), for example, fulfill their obligations at either Church, IIRC. Hopefully someone will correct me if I’m wrong about these two Churches.

Peace and God bless!

Similarly, the EC priest indicated that, in his opinion, a Catholic would fulfill his obligation by attending Liturgy at an EO Church. I suppose that he was referring to his parishoners??

I don’t know who he’d be refering to specifically, not knowing his Church or its canons, but he wouldn’t be refering to Latin Catholics. Latin Canon law does not permit them to “fulfill their obligation” outside of the Catholic Church.

Peace and God bless!

In fact, it dispenses the obligation when a Catholic church is unavailable.

However, it does permit reception in the Orthodox church.

So, if you’re stuck in a village with an Orthodox parish, but no Catholic parishes, for months, it’s probably to your spirtual advantage to go and worship there. If they allow you, you may even take part of communion without it being wrong.

Given the CCEO canon’s requirements, however, the duty is

  1. not specifically to attend divine worship services weekly
  2. to assist the church in a diverse number of ways, including…
  3. to participate in the Divine Worship services frequently

The EC obligation can be met in the Orthodox Church, if it does not lead to indifferentism, nor to misunderstandings. It’s a “suboptimal” solution, but acceptable in crisis, need, isolation, or emergency.

And in a few cases, the relationship is far closer, and thus indifferentism is unlikely: the Syrian Orthodox and the Assyrian Church of the East both have limited communion agreements in force. The Armenian Orthodox have a formal agreement on shared pastoral care with the Armenian Catholics. These groups, while not part of the ecclesiology, are very much a part of the life of the Church, due to quirks of history and geography. They are exceptions, and one can in fact fulfill their obligation in them, as the agreements specifically enable this.

I suppose that one posibility would be to consult with your local parish priest on the question.

Wasn’t it Thomas Aquinas, considered a Saint by the Roman Catholic Church, who also taught against the Immaculate Conception while still believing in Mary’s Sinlessness? Sounds a little Orthodox to me. Yet he’s considered a Saint not a Heretic.

Perhaps it’s the same thing, the Catholic Church doesn’t consider St. Thomas Aquinas a Heretic and they don’t consider the Orthodox Church Heretical either?

Ghosty, do you happen to know how, if we can, obtain an English Version of the Melkite Greek Catholic Code of Canon Law?

The Roman’s have their Code of Canon Law easily accessable in English on-line at the Vatican Website. I haven’t seen it on our website:


I only know of the “Code of Canons for the Eastern Churches”, which is available online here:

The problem is that these are “catch-all” Canons, mostly based on the Latin Code, that don’t refer to the specific needs of each individual Church. This code even makes frequent references to “the laws of the particular Church”, meaning it recognizes that this is a general code, not one specific to any given non-Latin Church, and that each non-Latin Church will have its own code.

I don’t know if the “Melkite Canon Law” is available in English, or even if it’s all gathered in one “set”, though I would love to see it. :slight_smile:

Peace and God bless!

I am a Roman Rite Catholic married for 30 yrs. to an Armenian Orthodox woman. I attend daily Mass. On Sunday, my wife and I go to early Mass and then on most Sundays proceed to any one of several Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Churches within a 3 hr. radius which have a Priest available to perform the Divine Liturgy. I have learned and served and sung this most beautiful ancient Liturgy over the course of my 30+ yrs of married life. 2 yrs. ago on the Feast of the Assumption, I was ordained a Deacon according to the Armenian Orthodox Rite. I do not consider that I have left the Roman Church and I still serve as lector, Euch. Min., Mass server & funeral server. All the local Roman clergy have allowed me to serve as Deacon for Roman Liturgies. They know me and my love of the Church and life of prayer for unity. My beloved late Pastor of my Italian Catholic parish called me the nite before i was ordained and prayed with me and encouraged me and empowered me. Due to failing health he was not able to be there. He subsequently died. The Priest the Bishop assigned as Pastor subsequently threw me out of my beloved Parish( I was even V.P. of Parish Council) saying he called the Chancery, spoke to the Chancellor (not the Bishop) and they agreed: " I cannot serve two masters???" The other Priests have welcomed me, I switched Parishes. The Priest lasted 2 yrs. - ruined the Parish and was transferred far away. His Father was Ruthenian Rite and when he was ordained he asked permission to have Bi-Ritual Faculties from Rome. He was denied. I told him jokingly (but i meant it!) that there must have been some impediment on his part. In any event I am curious and hope you can furnish me with the source of your information regarding the formal agreement between Armenian Apostolic and Armenian Catholic Churches. I have seen it, been there, heard of even full Liturgies concelebrated with priests, deacons and faithful of both Churches. When I was ordained there was a niece of the late Cardinal Agajanian praying the Rosary. A few months ago I, with the Armenian Orthodox Priest participated in the joint marriage ceremony uniting her son to an Italian Catholic girl at a Cathedral in Ontario, Canada. So as I say, I am living witness to the close relationship o f the Armenians. I have just not heard or seen documentation of a formal agrrement. I hope you can furnish me that resource. Sorry this is so long, but I wanted all on this forum to know of me as this is my first post. By the way, much of the info in this forum re: Armenian Church is incorrect or misinterpreted. I hope to add my input soon. Pray incessantly for UNITY. I beg a prayer for my unworthy self also,
Albert Sargavak (Deacon Al)

Have you told the Bishop of this particular Orthodox diocese that you believe in the authority of the Pope (Papal Primacy), the Immaculate Conception, Indulgences, Purgatory, etc? If so, what did he say?

Welcome to the forums, and my God bless your stay here!

I myself am actually of Armenian descent (my last name is Gostanian), and I look forward to your input here, especially as regards misinterpretations and misrepresentations of the Armenian tradition. If you can’t post it all, feel free to private message or e-mail me!

Peace and God bless!

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