Non-Catholics receiving the Eurcharist

Appreciate if anyone can help me , by showing me where in the canon law does it state that it is on our own conscience that determines one can receive the Eucharist, even if the person is non-Catholic.

when one is non-Catholic, it isn’t up to their conscience. they can’t receive the Eucharist at all.

Unless there is a grave circumstance, a non-Catholic cannot simply show up to Mass and receive Holy Communion. We actually have no less than St. Paul himself who wrote:

[27] Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. [28] But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. [29] For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord. [30] Therefore are there many infirm and weak among you, and many sleep.

Please also note what Redemptionis Sacramentum states on the matter:

[85.] Catholic ministers licitly administer the Sacraments only to the Catholic faithful, who likewise receive them licitly only from Catholic ministers, except for those situations for which provision is made in Can. 844 §§ 2,3, and 4, and Can. 861 § 2.166 In addition, the conditions comprising Can. 844 § 4, from which no dispensation can be given,167 cannot be separated; thus, it is necessary that all of these conditions be present together.

Here is the relevent section from Canon law:

§4. If the danger of death is present or if, in the judgment of the diocesan bishop or conference of bishops, some other grave necessity urges it, Catholic ministers administer these same sacraments licitly also to other Christians not having full communion with the Catholic Church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who seek such on their own accord, provided that they manifest Catholic faith in respect to these sacraments and are properly disposed.

§5. For the cases mentioned in §§2, 3, and 4, the diocesan bishop or conference of bishops is not to issue general norms except after consultation at least with the local competent authority of the interested non-Catholic Church or community.

Thus, this is an extreme case, and, even at that, it is not necessarly easily granted.

I hope that this helps.

Hmmm, maybe I am not clear in my question. I come from the understanding that non-Catholics should not received the Eucharist. But someone quoted some part of the canon (according to the person, it is stated in the canon) so I am trying to find that particular piece of information and hopefully get some understanding behind that particular law.

But all the same, I am grateful for the responses.


This is only under extreme circumstances where the individual is not able to even assist at his own ecclesial community. But, even at that, such permission is not necessarily easily granted, as noted in the canonical citation that I posted. Thus, under normal, every day circumstances, this cannot be done. The non-Catholic cannot receive Holy Communion in the Church.

Canon Law states this:

Can. 912 Any baptized person not prohibited by law can and must be admitted to holy communion.

the first part says any baptized person. it has to be a valid baptism of course
but the second clause of the law says “not prohibited by law”. benedictgal has posted a provision within Redemptionis Sacramentum which says that the Eucharist be only given to the Catholic faithful

basically, Canon Law acts as like the US Constitution, with the RS serving as a more specific law or code. baptism is a universal requirement that will never be changed so its there in Canon Law, but since it refers to other Church laws to that it can either easily be changed without changing Canon Law, or be able to elaborate as such in RS without cluttering the Canon Law with too much specifics, as in the Constitution

We cannot show you what does not exist. Canon Law makes no such statement.

Ask the person who told you this what canon they are quoting, and then look it up here:

correct me if i am wrong, but I believe that theChurch holds no objection to Orthodox recieving, assuming that they are not prohibited by their own law

True. But, the important distinction is that the Church recognizes the Orthodox as Sister Churches. with some deficiencies, but, Sister Churches nonetheless. Now, the OP’s question is more along the lines of members of Protestant Ecclesial Communities. Remember, the Church calls them ecclesial communities. We should try to stick to these terms so as to avoid confusion.

My understanding had been that we permitted Orthodox to receive only if they didn’t have access to one of their own churches. I can’t quite put my finger on where I got that impression from, so correct me if I’m wrong.

wasn’t it the other way around? if Catholics are somewhere without an accessible Catholic Church but there is one that is Orthodox, we are permitted to go to Mass/DL there and with the permission of the priest, receive the Eucharist, and fulfill our Sunday obligation

i’m not sure how open the Orthodox is in going to our Mass. from the few i have come across online and within CAF, it seems they’re not interested. i think its a one way street here. the Catholic Church views the Orthodox as a real Church with seven valid Sacraments. the Orthodox view of the Catholics aren’t quite the same. but maybe they’re more open to Catholic Churches in the same Rite. but probably not the Latin Rite

I agree that ecclesial community is the correct term, but I doubt that many even on this forum are familiar with the term’s meaning…so as a practical matter, methinks using “churches” (small C ;)) is more universally understood. :shrug:

It is of note, methinks, that Canon law is binding only on Catholics, so norms that apply to non-Catholics will not necessarily be addressed there, as 1ke addressed.

Canon 844 covers that as well:

§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.

There is nothing in the text that states their own sacraments must be unavailable in the case of a true Church, as opposed to an ecclesial community.

Mark and Choy: You are both right from what I can recall, but I can’t cite it. We permit Orthodox to receive from us if they wish. However, I have been told for them to do so would be to latae sentiae excommunicate themselves from the Orthodox Church. We can receive from them if they allow us. Going to an Orthodox DL however only fulfills the Sunday Obligation if one cannot attend a Catholic Mass.

Also, Choy: You made it sound that one had to receive the Eucharist to fulfill one’s Sunday Obligation. Just to clarify, this is not the case at all. It is the attending and assisting at Mass (the whole Mass) that fulfills it.


Can. 1 The canons of this Code concern only the latin Church.

Can. 1752 In cases of transfer, the provisions of Can. 1747 are to be applied, always observing canonical equity and keeping in mind the salvation of souls, which in the Church must always be the supreme law.

The first cannon…and the last cannon.

All of these “laws” pertain to the Latin Rite Church only. The last of the cannons is the most important, supreme law is the salvation of souls. I guess I would ask how do we bring people any closer to fulfilling this supreme law if they have no idea or do not commit to complete conversion and obedience to receive the Eucharist.

I have had this discussion many times on the “non Catholic” forum and I most often end up arguing with Catholics. Everyone is invited to come into the Church fully and then they can partake in the grace filled sacraments in their daily life. We should work to bring people to Christ in the fullness not partial or go through the motions just to appear inclusive.

Am I being too harsh here, this does comply with Church teachings so I would say no; how about you?

But, with all due respect, I believe that you are misreading the canon and ignoring what Redemptionis Sacramentum states. The Church does not have open communion for non-Catholics. While she recognizes the validity of the Sister Churches that I referenced in one of my replies, that cannot be held true for other ecclesial communities.

i believe the comma i placed there so that one fact is separated from the other

i was in discussion in the Eastern Catholic forum about this issue. i think it has something to do about their view of the Catholic Church where they view our Sacraments as invalid. its their point-of-view of the schism. although i’m not sure how they would treat receiving from a Catholic Church of the same Rite. i’ve read various opinions about it and perhaps some people just don’t make a distinction even though the Orthodox Church would. or maybe they relax that law if its the same Rite, i am not quite so sure

My understanding is that any valid Catholic rite can fulfill our obligation. Orthodox DL is considered a valid Catholic rite. Whether it leads to a schismatic mindset is another matter.

All due respect noted. I hope I didn’t seem to be contradicting you, as you site what i understand to be te truth. I was talking about everyday abuses; some promulgated with the help of our Catholic brothers and sisters.

Many things change when the threat of death come in. This also falls under the last cannon. Someone who request to come into full communion at the time of their death dies a full fledged Catholic.

Sorry if I didn’t express myself clearly.:thumbsup:

going to DL in a Catholic Eastern Church would fulfill your obligation. going to an Orthodox DL normally won’t fulfill your obligation. the clause is that unless you cannot go to a Catholic sui juris church, then an Orthodox DL/Mass would fulfill your obligation

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