Expert Answer Forum

Non-Catholic Communion and Charitable Assumptions QUESTION from Kurt Vorndran November 15, 1999
I am a little confused on your answer to Deacon Larry's question on the reception of communion by non-Catholics. I seem to recall the Cardinal Archbishop of my diocese explaining that while the Catholic Church does not invite or offer communion to most non-Catholics, priests and Eucharistic Ministers do not have the authority to refuse Communion to a who so presents himself simply because he is a Protestant. Secondly, on the particular circumstance, contrary to a press report, individuals I have spoken with who were with the Vice-President at the event tell me he did not in fact present himself for communion. Don't you think your statement What amazes me is Gore's sheer audacity. ... This is a public demonstration of his insensitivity to the Catholic faith. These men do as they wish and to hell with anyone else. I hope the Catholic voters remember it shows a lack of Christian charity; rushing to judgement based on false information? The Vice-President, at this event, firmly and clearly asserted his support for Catholic social teachings, something each and everyone of his Republican opponents dissent from, including one (Mr. Forbes) who criticized the Church for allowing him to attend Mass. Kurt Vorndran kvorn@nteuhq1.nteu.org
ANSWER by Mr. John Miskell on November 15, 1999
Dear Kurt, Regarding Communion of non-Catholics, the dispositions of the Second Vatican Council Decree on Ecumenism were applied through the Ecumenical Directory and were approved by the Holy Father and published in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis. The Directory went more into detail regarding Christian communities with which we do not share the same ecclesiological and sacramental bases that particularly unite us to the Churches of the East. After giving doctrinal justifications of its norms, it gives the following instruction:
Celebration of the sacraments is an action of the celebrating community, signifying the oneness in faith, worship and life of the community. Where this unity of sacramental faith is deficient, the participation of the separated with Catholics, especially in the Sacraments of the Eucharist, Penance and Anointing of the Sick, is FORBIDDEN. Nevertheless, since the sacraments are both signs of unity and sources of grace (cf. Decree on Ecumenism, n. 8), the Church can for adequate reasons allow access to those sacraments to a separated brother. This may be permitted in danger of death or in urgent need (during persecution, in prisons) if the separated brother has no access to a minister of his own communion, and spontaneously asks for a Catholic priest for the sacraments-so long as he declares a faith in these sacraments in harmony with that of the Church, and is rightly disposed. In commenting on this passage, one month before his death, Cardinal Bea, President of the Secretariat for the Promotion of the Unity of Christians, endeavored to throw light on its exact meaning. These texts determine precisely the conditions required for admitting an Anglican or a Protestant to eucharistic communion in the Catholic Church. It is not enough, then, that one of these Christians be spiritually well disposed and that he spontaneously request communion from a Catholic minister. In the first place two other conditions must be VERIFIED: that they hold the faith that the Catholic Church herself professes concerning the Eucharist, and that they are unable to approach a minister of their own confession. The Directory cites as examples three very special cases, where these conditions can be verified: danger of death, persecution, imprisonment. In other cases the ordinary of the place or the episcopal conference will be able to give the permission, IF IT IS ASKED. The CONDITION must be, however, that urgent necessity similar to that in cases cited as examples and the same conditions must be verified. When one of these conditions is lacking, admission to eucharistic communion in the Catholic Church is not possible (Note on application of Directory concerning ecumenical Matters L'Osservatore Romano 6 October 1968). With regard to the role which the Directory plays in the pastoral action of the Church, it is useful to recall the words addressed by the Holy Father on 13 November 1968 to the members of the Secretariat for the Promotion of the Unity of Christians: We need not tell you that, to promote ecumenism in an efficacious way, one must also guide it, submit it to the rules that are quite precise. We regard the Ecumenical Directory not as a collection of advisory principles which one can freely accept or ignore, but as an authentic instruction, an exposition of the discipline to which all those who wish truly to serve ecumenism should submit themselves (L'Osservatore Romano, 14 November 1968). As far as Vice-President Gore is concerned. The press reported that he went up for Communion - what is one to think? To say that Gore supports Catholic social teaching is like saying Adolph Hitler supported Jewish social teaching. Gore is a public sinner and an anti-Catholic. His recent spat with Bill Bradley about which candidate was the most pro-abortion was revealing and typifies his social stand. Calling him a sinner and asking / warning him to repent is the most charitable thing anyone could do. In Christ and in the service of Mary, John Miskell
Back to Index Page

You have successfully subscribed!