Why don't Catholics have Open Communion?

The question was posed to me by a friend of mine. I know the answer from a Catholic perspective–it is a sign of unity of Faith and if you don’t believe what all the Catholic Church teaches then you should not partake, because “anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.” --1 Cor. 11:29

This friend in a Lutheran, and he believes in the True Presence, yet they have open communion at his church. He believes that if someone were to go to Communion and believe, Jesus would be present, but if they didn’t believe, He would not be.

My response to this was to say Jesus is present no matter what because it is a real presence, just as a tree in a forest is real whether or not a person goes to see it or even knows its there.

But his frustration remains. The argument is that the Catholic Church claims that we are trying to unify all churches into one, yet we are being divisive by excluding others at our communion. My friends stance is he would never be a part of a church that was so exclusive.

I’m curious, what does he think about having to be in a state of grace to receive the Eucharist? How does he feel about the sacrament of reconciliation? What does he think about all we Catholics do to prepare ourselves to properly receive communion? I think other denominations miss the point of being in a state of grace to receive Jesus in the Eucharist, its not just about believing in the true presence.

Hi Diana. Welcome to the Forum.

The question of the thread is already answered by your own self. Do you have any particular subject that need to be elaborated? In that case you may want to restate your OP again.

Regarding the question of the thread there are not too many reasons for that other than what you have stated. You may want to add apostolic succession (which actually falls in the category of ‘what the Church teaches’) whereby mass is only legitimately performed by such priests. Yet the definition of who has the succession belongs to Catholic, so the subject of this thread is rather clear cut. The fact Lutherans offer Communion to others should have nothing to do with what Catholics do.

And you can say sorry to your friend, the Church will not change her doctrine just so that it will suit anybody preference.

God bless.

The Catholic Church is not the only one that does not have open communion. I don’t know what synod your friend belongs to but I do know people who are members of the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church and they do not have open communion. You must be a Missouri Synod Lutheran to take communion in their church.

I think another reason is that although your friend might believe in the real presence, and taking the Eucharist in a proper way, there are others out there that would not. What about Baptists, Born Again Christians, Non-Denominationals that come to visit the Church? Open communion would have to also include them.

Being as the Eucharist is truly the Real presence, the priest would knowingly be allowing these people to be guilty of the body and blood of Christ. That would be a mortal sin not only on the Priest’s part, but on the receiver’s part.
Satanists could come in and partake of the Eucharist, and rather than eat, keep it for one of their own reasons. We just can’t allow Jesus to be desecrated.

When people receive the Eucharist, they are saying that they agree with all the beliefs of that religion, that’s the reason Catholics don’t receive from other churches as well.

This is so weird. I actually had a conversation with a girl I met the other day about this. She said, “I can’t believe that they don’t allow me to get communion!” I asked her if she believed in divine presence and she said no. I said, “If you don’t believe then what’s the point?” She felt like it was a discriminatory thing. I felt like no matter what I said she would just count it as the catholics being meanies.

The truth is, the Catholic Church does allow anyone and everyone to receive communion.

The Church teaches that one must simply be properly disposed to do so because it is truly Our Lord we receive.

If your friend were to go through RCIA and be in communion with the Church while being in a state of grace, he will not be denied. Our Lord in communion is for everyone.

Therein lies the Good News!

cargau, you scared me for a minute :eek:
until I read your last sentence LOL

Lutherans do not belive in the ‘True Presence’ (at least not in the catholic meaning) but in Cosustantiation… ie they believe Christ is present in the bread in spirit only.

The true presence does not simply mean that Jesus is there in ‘spirit only’ but that Jesus is there in Flesh, Blood, Spirit and Divinity…

That is somewhat different…

Then he’ll remain frustrated.
The Catholic Church is not divisive.
Rather it is PROTECTIVE about the Holy Eucharist - as it should be.

If one decides to “stay apart” then that is one’s choice.
The Church will never allow Communion for those who dispute its holy truth.
The act of divisiveness is your friend’s; it’s not an act of the Church and its teachings.

Some people just want to be included in everything, regardless of how ill-fitted they may be for it. “Discrimination” is considered a worse crime than relativism, but it is not so. If your friend does not believe in all that the Church deems necessary in order for the reception of communion, then they ought not even want to receive (Does your friend also go to mosques and become upset at not being allowed to pray to the Holy Trinity there?). On the other hand, if they did believe in everything that the Church deems necessary, then they probably wouldn’t be asking that question to begin with.

that is bendable. I take communion as a matter of routine at a MSL Church about four time a year and the pastor there is well aware I am ELCA. HE knows me. He knows what I think about various things and he has no problem with me taking communion there when I visit.

My big issue is why so many Catholics who are miles away from Catholic doctrine are allowed to partake when I as a Lutheran who is probably only inches away on the majority of Catholic doctrine is not allowed. It’s a name only issue in so many instances. To me it’s almost a bad joke when I’m visiting a mass. You’re letting her take communion!??!?! She’s the LEAST Catholic person you’ll ever meet! But me, No. I have the wrong label. I’d like to see it opened, or the Church really clamp down and follow its own rules on communion. I think that’s where the problem is. Of course, to do so means some Catholics are going to get ticked off and walk away.

This is inaccurate, Ismael. We believe that the Eucharist is the true body and blood of Jesus Christ. We do not claim the presence is merely spiritual, but real and sacramental. We do not believe in transubstantiation, but we do not believe in consubstantiation, either.

I would think that many churches have that same problem, Lutheranteach. Perhaps the Catholic Church more than others. I don’t know, but I don’t think the answer to lax discipline on the part of communicants is to open the communion to any who feel themselves “more Catholic than the Pope”, as they saying goes. The point is that, regardless of how far any particular individual may fall short from the ideal, it is not supposed to be a matter of the “correct label”. It is a matter of correct belief (“orthodoxy”, if you will :)), and if you do not share it to the degree that the church in question requires you to, you are not to take communion, as communion is also a means of reaffirming common belief. This restriction also applies to those who are Catholics more in name than in belief and deed. If you have ever been to an Easter Mass in a Catholic Church, you (hopefully) heard the priest ask that all those in attendance who are not in good standing within the Church please refrain from receiving communion. This applies to “regular” Masses without a lot of “Christmas and Easter Catholics”, too.

I agree wholeheartedly with this, Loboto. We have always practiced closed communion (along with the Missouri Synod Lutherans). Although, in an emergency situation, we have been known to commune Catholics, Orthodox, and Anglicans who believe in the real presence. Holy Communion is more than that; it is a confirmation that we are visibly united in doctrine and teaching, not just about the Supper, but about the whole plate of belief. Communing someone who does not agree with us is saying that there is a visible unity that simply doesn’t exist.

But you are making assumptions about other people. Just because you don’t think someone is worthy doesn’t mean they aren’t.

You have no idea what state another person’s soul is in. You don’t know if they’ve recently received the sacrament of reconcilliation. You don’t know if they are working on their issue(s).

For example, I haven’t been to confession in my parish in over 15 years due to my travels and work requirements. Just because nobody in my parish has seen me at confession doesn’t mean I shouldn’t receive now does it?

This particular argument will get you no-where.
Judging the interior life of another is not allowed.

As some bishops have decreed, when a Catholic politician persists in giving
scandal, then he/she is, in fact, ordered to refrain from receiving Holy Communion.
That judgment call is authoritative and it’s made authoritatively and specifically.

Agreed wholeheartedly.

In the old days, the Bishop of Rome during the mass would break the consecrated bread into many pieces, some eaten and the rest to be packed and couriered by hands to priests in other churches, to be received there, partaken together, as a sign of one communion with him in the body of Christ.

Today at the Liturgy of the Eucharist (the second half of the mass), a celebrant breaks off a small piece from the host but instead of distributing it to the nearby parishes, he drops it into the chalice and to be consumed, symbolizing a communion with the Bishop of Rome. In essence that bread should be the one that been distributed from Rome to be partaken by many.

Communion is a communion of the oneness of the believers.

Even in my Anglican circles (which tend to have very open Communion :rolleyes:), I’ve heard people say that they won’t invite non-Christians to church because they won’t be allowed to receive. There really is this bizzare, me-centered entitlement attitude out there which says “I don’t have to be Catholic [or Christian, in our case], but I still ought to get all the benefits without any of the beliefs or effort.”

It’s truly disturbing. And it speaks volumes about the culture (and our inability to get our teachings out there?) when unbelievers think they “deserve” the thing that cost God the most dearly, or when non-Catholics (who are that way by choice) think that they can/should/ought to receive at a Mass when they reject the very theology that underlies the Mass. It makes no sense to me at all. :confused: :shrug:

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