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Priests present at communion by extension

31 August 2012


From the Revd Bruce Bridgewood

Sir, - Professor Orme in his letter (24 August) extolling the merits of Reader ministry goes too far. While it is true that Readers are not just there to "fill in", it remains a fact that they are laymen and -women.

I sometimes think that the C of E believes in the fourfold ministry of bishops, priests, deacons, and Readers. It is true, of course, that Readers are licensed by the bishop to preach, conduct non-eucharistic worship, bury the dead on occasion, etc.; but the fact remains that they are not in holy orders, whether they dress up in albs, surplices, and blue tippets, or not.

It is a fundamental theological principle that ministers should exercise their own liturgies wherever possible; so it is nonsense to have a "communion by extension" with two priests in the congregation.

The whole rationale of communion by extension is for the Blessed Sacrament to be made available for the reception of holy communion when no priest is available to celebrate a mass.

Frankly, I have to say that it would make better sense theologically if all these Readers, subdeacons, eucharistic ministers, et al., were done away with, and ordained as distinctive deacons in the first place.

81 Warwick Road, London N11 2SP


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