May a Church of England priest use the Roman and Methodist rites?

by
27 September 2019

Write, if you have any answers to the questions listed at the end of this section, or to add to the answers given below.

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Is it ever lawful for a Church of England priest to celebrate the eucharist using the Roman Catholic or Methodist rite?

Your answers: There is one situation in which it is lawful for a Church of England priest to celebrate the eucharist using the Methodist rite: in a local ecumenical project (LEP) in which both the C of E and the Methodist Church are partners, under (and subject to) the provisions of Canon B 44 “Of local ecumenical projects”, para. 4. It would not be lawful in any other context in the C of E.

The use of the Roman Catholic rite, however, is not lawful in the C of E. The Roman Catholic Church is debarred by its own canon law from participating in a local ecumenical partnership with the C of E which involves shared sacramental ministry; so the equivalent situation to that which allows the use of the Methodist rite cannot arise. It is arguable (and I would agree with the argument) that, in any case, the use of the Roman rite would fall foul of the requirement in Canon B 44 4(2) that a service to be used in an LEP may not depart from the doctrine of the C of E in any essential matter.

The argument that the use of the Methodist or Roman Catholic rites, or their consecration prayers, comes under the provision of Canon B5, “Of the discretion of Ministers in conduct of public prayer”, is one that I regard with contempt.

The same applies to cutting significant sections out of an authorised Eucharistic Prayer with the clear intention of expressing a different doctrine of the eucharist (I have seen this in a C of E church’s home-produced service book); abandoning the liturgy altogether and just reading 1 Corinthians 11.23-26 over the elements (I have seen this done in more than one C of E church); and reading the consecration prayer before placing the elements on the altar (I have seen this done, too).

On one occasion on which I was present, the presiding priest went off on some kind of improvisation in the Eucharistic Prayer and got to the “Amen” at the end without having done the consecration of the elements at all. This is also unlawful.

Steve Vince
Wolverhampton

 

I can’t speak for the Church of England, but in the Church in Wales we are able to use a rite from each of the other partner Churches in the Covenant (Methodist, Presbyterian, United Reformed, and Baptist) as authorised by the Churches through the Commission of Covenanted Churches. The service then takes its branding from the presiding minister. As for the Roman Catholic rite, an Anglican parish near where I grew up in Birmingham used it regularly, lawful or not.

(Canon) Sue Huyton
Bangor on Dee, Wrexham

 

Your questions: Two English cathedrals each recently appointed a “Canon of Honour”. The two were both retired clergy, and one was very elderly, but active. Is this something new to honour those who exericse an outstanding ministry in retirement?

P. W.

 

Can any of your readers identify the author and title of a poem that has the refrain “A female figure with a child”?

D. C.

 

 

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