Methodist in RCIA Receiving the Eucharist. Should he?

This person is in RCIA and this morning I approached him to explain what was my understanding that he could not receive the Eucharist until he comes in full union with the Catholic Church. He told me that the pastor told him that because he was baptized, confirmed and receiving communion as a Methodist that he could receive the Eucharist. Is this correct. A little confused here. Is there some way or Church law that states that he is able to do this? Is my understanding wrong?

I don’t think your understanding is wrong. But if that’s what your pastor told him, it’s going to be difficult for you to convince him otherwise.

The Catholic Church would recognize a Baptism in the Methodist communion as being valid, but Confirmation and Eucharist would not be. They don’t just “carry over”. If they did, there wouldn’t be much point for him to be in RCIA at all. :shrug:

Perhaps, if you know your pastor personally (so that you wouldn’t come off as challenging his authority), you might consider asking him. The issue is that you’re confused, and don’t understand how it might be possible. Let’s hope that there’s been a misunderstanding, that what what he told your friend was that, prior to his formal reception into the Church, it’s possible for him to attend Mass rather than to receive the Eucharist … :shrug:

Also, realize that some people have the attitude that “if they are worshiping with us, then they should be able to receive.” The communion taker in question may have been given some slack because he is in RCIA and intends to be a Catholic. For some people, intention is just as good as “being”.

Given how much I fought with some of the issues surrounding taking the Eucharist, I find that kind of insulting and really negates the purpose of having to go through the process of RCIA.

When the RDE told us her views in a RCIA session, I seriously asked myself why I’m bothering to take the classes and “be Catholic”, if I could just take the Eucharist due to the fact that I’m a consistent participant in the Mass at that particular parish. :confused:

Ironically, the (new) parish priest wondered why more people weren’t participating in RCIA, but then when you have the Religious Ed Director telling people that it was okay to take communion and not “technically” be Catholic. It’s kind of obvious what the answer is. The situation is kind of messed up. :rolleyes:

Since this person is in my RCIA class that I co-teach, if this is what the pastor actually conveyed, then should I just accept this, even though it is wrong? Any advice?

I have e-mailed the pastor for a clarification. I am really not sure that he didn’t tell this person this, knowing the pastor.

The rcia is a program developed recently, I guess to standardize the procedure of conversion. The person you are judging may have gone through a personal examination by your priest and found his understanding to be on par or better than an rcia graduate and he choose to stay in the program for the experience. I agree, if it bothers you, ask your priest.

My understanding is that the Methodists do not share our understanding of the Eucharist and therefore, should not receive. I have seen priests allow Episcopals and Lutherans.

Ah, that you co-teach RCIA adds another dimension to the issue. I would definitely consult the pastor. It is possible this was an unfortunate miscommunication.

I suppose you could also contact the diocesan office and ask to speak to whoever oversees RCIA for the diocese (in some dioceses, it falls to the Office of Worship, in others to the Office of Catechesis).

It would really not surprise me if the pastor told him this. The man seems to be a really honest person. My RICA director told me to approach him if I saw him receiving communion and explain to him why he should not receive, which I did and then he told me what the pastor said.

If this is the case, then I am starting to wonder about teaching an relaying the Truth, only to have the person told a different thing.

The answer is no. The Methodist should not receive Holy Communion until he has been received into the Catholic Church, unless there is an immediate danger of death.

On a regular basis I have noticed two people being a part of the same conversation coming away with two distinctly different points of view on what was said, i do not believe that a priest would tell someone in this situation that they could go to communion but, I do believe that in the course of discussing the situation they could say something that was not completely understood. Sounds like you have taken the proper measures on getting a clarification from your priest first and I think that should be the first step. Hopefully this will begin the process of correcting this situation with the candidate.

He would still need the permission of the Bishop to receive Communion and be required to do so in a manner that would not confuse the faithful.


Is it possible that this person was Baptized a Catholic and then raised a Methodist? That’s the only scenario that I can think of that would admit him to Communion preceded by Sacramental Confession first, of course.

No, this is not the case. He was baptized Methodist when young and has grown up in the Methodist church.

In any case, you’ve taken the correct next step – asking for clarification from your pastor.

Let’s pray it doesn’t get to the point where you discover that you believe your pastor is in error, and need advice on what (if anything) you should do at that point…

I definitely hope that he actually did not convey this. But I do know that he is rather liberal on some issues. This is what bothers me at this point. If this is what he has conveyed, I really don’t know what to say. I guess accept the fact that I told the person the truth and any error would fall on the head of the pastor as I told the person the truth. Hopefully, the pastor did not tell him this.

I would await the pastor’s clarification. Perhaps the student understood him incorrectly. If, in fact, the pastor has authorized the student to receive communion then he is participating formally in sacrilege. Your options, at that point, would be (a) to notify the bishop, in writing, with as much documentation as you are able to muster; (b) to resign from teaching RCIA; or © to accept the situation silently and continue as if you didn’t know anything.

In many cases pastors and priests need to be instructed in this. If they are confused the Bishop needs to help them understand.

To explain to someone in a calm, loving manner why they cannot receive yet is the correct thing to do.

Hopefully someone here can point to canon law and see it in black and white.

My point is that rcia has not always been mandatory for reception into the church. According to this, it wasn’t around until the 1970’s and not implemented generally until 1988. So before then and historically teaching and reception was done differently. I have seen this rcia program referred to legalistically as a be-all and end-all and it is not. So if a priest decides a potential convert is ready for reception into the church and can receive communion, they should be. To delay it because of some course or paperwork is harmful to their souls.

May be just accept the situation, if it proves true, and let God be the judge and deal with it accordingly.

Your point is valid, but I’m not sure that it applies in the OP’s case. If the pastor privately Confirmed and administered the Eucharist to the person, that is certainly his prerogative to do so as pastor (provided the Confirmation is handled in a manner keeping with the Bishop’s wishes as Ordinary Minister of the sacrament for his diocese).

If the pastor decided to do that, but then recommended the person sit in on RCIA sessions, too, I would suspect the OP would know that. But then, maybe that will turn out to be part of the forthcoming clarifying information from the pastor. :shrug:

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