Why Can't Protestants Receive Communion?

I started to address this issue in the thread entitled, “Accountability”, which was actually a different issue entirely, so I am c&ping it here. I know why I believe it is inappropriate for a non-Catholic Christian to receive under normal circumstances, particularly at mass. However, I have attempted to research Church documentation and the only thing I have come up with so far is the following:

The only 2 places I found in Canon Law were the following:

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

Can. 933. For a just cause and with the express permission of the local ordinary, a priest is permitted to celebrate the Eucharist in the place of worship of some Church or ecclesial community which does not have full communion with the Catholic Church so long as there is no scandal. [Again, emphasis mine]

Canon 912 does not seem to distinguish between Non-Catholic Christians and Catholics unless one fully understands the ‘not prohibited by law’ disclaimer. I’m not sure what all that would include/exclude.

Concerning Canon 933, I’m not sure how there would be no scandal if by ‘celebrating the Eucharist’ it means non-Catholic Christians would be allowed to receive…or…it might mean that a non-Catholic Christian may INACTIVELY participate by either observing while Catholics are receiving, or coming forward to receive a blessing.

I have studied the Catechism concerning the issue of disunity and the need for ecumenism and unity. However, I have not found anything concerning either a ban of reception for Protestants during communion or permission for them to receive, either way.

Is there something I am missing? I FEEL that it is wrong for a non-Catholic Christian to receive if for no other reason than the excerpt in the front of every missal, and I’m sure I have not dug in deep enough yet, but I am not sure where to look. Can anyone help me?
:confused:

When it says that people “not prohibited by law” must be admitted to communion it means that the priest must have a good reason to deny a person communion. For non-Catholics and other Christians by virtue of belonging to one of those groups they are prohibited by law to receive communion. Catholics who are in a state of mortal sin or who have been excommunicated are prohibited from receiving.

The part about a Catholic celebrating in a non-Catholic church would have to be due to extraordinary circumstances like if the Catholic church was rendered unusable due to fire or flood. The service must be made plainly clear it is Catholic and not a service of the hosting church group. So for example the minister of the hosting church shouldn’t be allowed to preside or participate with the priest in that instance.

ChadS

catholic.com/library/Who_Can_Receive_Communion.asp

usccb.org/dpp/Eucharist.pdf

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.

Here is what you are missing from the Code of Canon Law (1983):

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 judgment 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.

Can. 861 §2 If the ordinary minister is absent or impeded, a catechist or some other person deputed to this office by the local Ordinary, may lawfully confer baptism; indeed, in a case of necessity, any person who has the requisite intention may do so. Pastors of souls, especially parish priests, are to be diligent in ensuring that Christ’s faithful are taught the correct way to baptize.

From *Redemptionis Sacramentum *(March 2004):

[84.] Furthermore when Holy Mass is celebrated for a large crowd — for example, in large cities — care should be taken lest out of ignorance non-Catholics or even non-Christians come forward for Holy Communion, without taking into account the Church’s Magisterium in matters pertaining to doctrine and discipline. It is the duty of Pastors at an opportune moment to inform those present of the authenticity and the discipline that are strictly to be observed.

[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.

From *Ecclesia de Eucharistia *(April 17, 2003):

  1. While it is never legitimate to concelebrate in the absence of full communion, the same is not true with respect to the administration of the Eucharist under special circumstances, to individual persons belonging to Churches or Ecclesial Communities not in full communion with the Catholic Church. In this case, in fact, the intention is to meet a grave spiritual need for the eternal salvation of an individual believer, not to bring about an intercommunion which remains impossible until the visible bonds of ecclesial communion are fully re-established.

What all this seems to say is that non-Catholics (other than members of Eastern churches with valid sacraments) may not receive Communion from a Catholic minister except under very strict conditions, which must ALL be present: there is grave necessity (e.g., danger of death), AND a minister from their own faith is unavailable, AND they have a Catholic belief in the Sacrament, AND they are properly disposed (not in the state of mortal sin).

Since SMOM already answered the first part by posting the relevant canons as to who can be admitted to Communion (canon 844), I’ll address the second part about celebrating Mass in a non-Catholic building. This canon talks about “borrowing” a non-Catholic church building for Mass. It doesn’t mean that a Catholic priest can celebrate Mass for a non-Catholic community or in combination with a non-Catholic minister. That canon is only talking about the building itself.

Nice work–thank you for sharing-
Thanks so much for this.
:thumbsup:

Thank you all for your wonderful responses. I will refer back to this material. While I was in the hospital with Leukemia (AML), my convert friend sicced a Jesuit on me. At that time I was about 80-90% Catholic at heart, but still struggled with some issues. He offered me absolution and would have offered me the host but I told him I wasn’t totally there yet. Of course I am now that I have recovered and since been received into full communion. The absolution he offered me made me feel so cleansed and honored. It inspired a song the Lord gave me that my brother later helped me produce.

One of the reasons I believe it to be improper for non-Catholic Christians to receive is for the same reason those who go through RCIA are not allowed to receive until they are received into full communion. I liken it unto a couple who commits fornication before their wedding night. They cannot truly consummate their marriage. They have taken that which was intended to be pure and desecrated it. The same is true for those receiving their first communion. The Eucharist is something to be taken very seriously and guarded by priests, bishops, and EMHOC’s (Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion). Furthermore, in my humble opinion, I believe EMHOC’s need to be properly trained for the very great responsibility as guardians of the Eucharist. I’m sure many are, but I know of some that had never considered the perspective which I have shared above until I shared it with them and I am not even an EMHOC.

Concerning the doctrine of Transubstantiation, I understand the logistics of how it becomes the body, blood, soul, and divinity with a validly ordained priest with sacramental authority to consecrate it. What I probably never will understand, until perhaps I am in the presence of God in the afterlife, is the mystery of how it CAN transform. But like Peter I respond, “Lord, to whom else shall we go? You are the only one with the words of life.” In other words, I may not fully comprehend it, but He has taught it to be true and that’s good enough for me. I am just thankful I am finally home in the ancient Church.

Canon 933 describes the circumstances where a priest might celebrate Mass. It says nothing about who may recieve the Eucharist.

Canon 933 applies, for example, if a Catholic Church suffered damage in a storm, and the local Methodist Church offered their building for the priest to say Mass in while the Catholic Church is being repaired, that would be allowed.

But it does not say that the Methodists would be allowed to recieve Communion.

See the difference?

Welcome Home!

Thank you, Puzzleannie. You are the only one in here who has welcomed me.:thumbsup:

Okay…thank you all. I already got it about Canon 933 from the first 100 replies. I am currently not at my computer. I am visiting a friend out of town, but I’m sure that I researched this whole issue previously and have something saved in my documents at home from the CCC as well but I don’t have access right now and cannot remember where I found it in the CCC. Can anyone help with that? :blush:

I am wondering why this would be a substantive issue? If a person is not a member of the Church…this alone would seem to indicate that they are…by choice, outside our fellowship. In other words this person would have some disagreement with the articles or at least some article of our faith. Why in the world would this person want to receive Holy Communion at Mass? I think it would perhaps be like giving the secret Mormon handshake to a Mormon who now thinks that I am an LDS member…go figure.:shrug:

I think this is what you are looking for:

1398 The Eucharist and the unity of Christians. Before the greatness of this mystery St. Augustine exclaims, *“O sacrament of devotion! O sign of unity! O bond of charity!”*237 The more painful the experience of the divisions in the Church which break the common participation in the table of the Lord, the more urgent are our prayers to the Lord that the time of complete unity among all who believe in him may return.

1399 The Eastern churches that are not in full communion with the Catholic Church celebrate the Eucharist with great love. “These Churches, although separated from us, yet possess true sacraments, above all - by apostolic succession - the priesthood and the Eucharist, whereby they are still joined to us in closest intimacy.” A certain communion *in sacris, *and so in the Eucharist, "given suitable circumstances and the approval of Church authority, is not merely possible but is encouraged."238

1400 Ecclesial communities derived from the Reformation and separated from the Catholic Church, "have not preserved the proper reality of the Eucharistic mystery in its fullness, especially because of the absence of the sacrament of Holy Orders."239 It is for this reason that, for the Catholic Church, Eucharistic intercommunion with these communities is not possible. However these ecclesial communities, "when they commemorate the Lord’s death and resurrection in the Holy Supper . . . profess that it signifies life in communion with Christ and await his coming in glory."240

1401 When, in the Ordinary’s judgment, a grave necessity arises, Catholic ministers may give the sacraments of Eucharist, Penance, and Anointing of the Sick to other Christians not in full communion with the Catholic Church, who ask for them of their own will, provided they give evidence of holding the Catholic faith regarding these sacraments and possess the required dispositions.241

There are a lot of ‘Protestants’ that really don’t think in terms of labels. They are born and raised in a particular denomination and don’t really think twice about it. All they know is that they love Christ and feel that they share this love with Christians all over. On occasion one may come to a Catholic mass out of curiousity and not feel too out of place because maybe they come from a Lutheran or Episcopalian background. Since everyone would just assume they are Catholic, nobody knows to inform them that we are closed communion and they go forward and receive.

In addition, there are a lot of non-Catholic Christians that never hear about the Catholic Church one way or another so they just assume they are another denomination. Remember, not ALL Protestant groups are ANTI-Catholic enough to teach their laypeople about Catholic/Anti-Catholic and there are a lot of poorly catechized Christians from many denominations, sometimes because they don’t care and other times because their particular ‘church’ leadership just does not teach them about their own beliefs well. We must remember that generation upon generation have passed since the Protestant revolt. Not all Protestants today share the same sentiment as their founders of yesteryear.

This is what makes it so difficult to communicate with them about our differences, because many are ecumenical minded, and though we do strive for unity we cannot pretend that unity exists where it does not (in particular, the issue of Church authority as well as the real presence in the Eucharist). It takes a certain amount of diplomacy and wisdom to make those differences clear without offending. If we have made every attempt at diplomacy and charity and they are still offended then I say too bad. We cannot back down from the truth.

Without consulting the NFL referee’s rule book, (lol) I think it has to do with not being in communion w. the church, not confessing & receiving forgiveness for sins, (we have to be in a pure state to receive something as pure as the eucharist). I think that’s the jist of it. I’m new to the church, I’m still learning (used to be episcopalian, confirmed in RCC easter 2008). I’m sure there’s plenty in the catechism that discusses that, & some may say, “well…I’m in communion with Jesus & that’s good enough.” THAT was MY arguement at one point in time. THEN I gained a better respect for the eucharist & the sacraments & I understood the sheer purity of it all & then I realized, you cant just go meandering around in pluff mud barefoot raking for clams & then go get a pedicure. That is the parallel I draw for this arguement. Ya hafta warsh the feets off first, because who walks in a place all nasty & demands that they be serviced? Make sense? I know it’s very layman’s terms-ish, but that is the essence of my understanding of this particular topic in question. Respectfully~ Jason

If it makes you feel any better, I also understand that catholics arent supposed to receive communion from outside the RCC due to the fact that it wasnt blessed by an ordained priest.

That (which is the main reason), and because we represent the Catholic Church if we received in a non-Catholic ecclesial community we would be implying that there is a unity between us that doesn’t exist.

Along with that, I believe it is normally improper for a Catholic to even attend a non-Catholic ecclesial community except for extraordinary circumstances. That’s what I’ve heard anyway. We have to fulfill our Sunday obligation in a Catholic Church if at all possible. If there aren’t any close by and/or it is impossible for us to get there we can attend an Eastern Orthodox Church, but it is very improper under normal circumstances to attend worship services in a non-Catholic community.:thumbsup:

Interesting, didn’t know that extra tidbit, thanx!

Respectfully,

Jason

It should be noted that although you may attend the liturgy of an Eastern Orthodox Church and it will fulfill your Sunday Obligation , you may not receive communion there without permission. They do not have an open door policy for the Sacraments.

I saw in an earlier post that you are a convert. Welcome Home.

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