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Misuse of communion by extension

by
17 August 2012

iStock

From Mr George Southern
Sir, - While visiting our daughter in Devon, we went to the village church for the weekly parish communion, but discovered that it was a "Service of the Word with Holy Communion by Extension", at which the local Reader officiated, even though there were two robed priests present, one preaching, and one singing in the choir.

We got chatting to one of those priests after the service, and I questioned the legality of the use of that form of service by a Reader when there were two priests present.

He whispered: "I know. It should never happen; but the reason why they do it is to avoid paying the fee to a retired priest." He added: "I told the Rector that I would waive my fee rather than the parish suffer eucharistic deprivation, but he refused my offer as 'doing the other thing with the Reader also gives the people variety.'" We understand that this custom is "quite common" in the area.

We have the highest regard for Reader ministry, but is it not shocking that parishes suffer eucharistic deprivation while faithful priests are being deprived of being able to celebrate the eucharist? People speak of a "shortage of clergy", but, as far as Sunday eucharists are concerned, is it not the fact that priests are available who would be delighted to celebrate the eucharist, but the parishes wish to avoid paying their fee or simply do not bother to ask them?

GEORGE SOUTHERN
Elmwood, Berkeley Square
Bristol BS8 1HP

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