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When may an Anglican receive communion in an RC church abroad? Part two

05 July 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


When may an Anglican receive communion in a Roman Catholic church when travelling abroad? Is it always permissible if there is no Anglican service near by, or must there be a case of grave need (such as a stay of several months)?

Your answer: There are many reports of eucharistic hospitality offered to Anglicans by Roman Catholic priests, but the official ruling in the Canons suggests that such extensions of hospitality do not follow the official teaching as enshrined in the 1983 Code of Canon Law.

Canon 844 — S1 states: “Catholic ministers may licitly administer the sacraments to Catholic members of the Christian faithful only, and, likewise, the latter may licitly receive the sacraments only from Catholic ministers with due regard for SS2, 3 and 4 of this Canon.”

S2 allows the RC faithful to receive the sacrament from a non-RC minister where it is impossible to approach an RC minister, as long as the sacraments are valid in that minister’s Church.

S3 allows RC ministers to ladminister the sacraments licitly “to members of the oriental churches which do not have full communion with the Catholic Church, if they ask on their own for the sacraments and are properly disposed. This holds also for members of other churches, which in the judgment of the Apostolic See are in the same condition as the oriental churches as far as these sacraments are concerned.”

S4 deals with the situation where there is “danger of death”. At such times, “Catholic ministers may licitly administer these sacraments to other Christians who do not have full communion with the Catholic Church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community, and on their own ask for it, provided they manifest Catholic faith in these sacraments, and are properly disposed.”

Vatican II’s Decree on Ecumenism singles out the Anglican Communion among Western Churches and ecclesial communities as one occupying a “special place among these communions in which Catholic traditions and institutions in part continue to exist”. There has, however, been no formal judgment published by the Apostolic See concerning the Anglican or other Communions as a Church or Churches “in the same situation as the Eastern Churches”.

The question is almost impossible to answer. The Canon suggests that if an Anglican is unable to approach a priest of his or her own Communion, it is likely that a Roman Catholic priest would, if approached, be enabled to extend eucharistic hospitality licitly if the Anglican had a Catholic understanding of the sacraments — in other words, was “properly disposed”.

(The Revd) Robert Charles
Exmouth, Devon

Your questionIn more than 60 years since being confirmed by the then Bishop of Chichester, I have regularly attended holy communion. More than 50 priests have provided services, and I have never seen one who does the absolution or the blessing using other than their right arm raised. Is it that left-handed candidates for ordination are refused, or are they trained not to use their natural arm?

B. W.

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