10 October 2010

Communicatio in sacris

Sharing in the Sacraments of the Eucharist, Penance, and Unction is of course permitted in particular circumstances in Canon Law; and and this is repeated in the Ecumenical Directory (with necessary distinctions between those communities which have valid sacraments and those which don't).

I recently did a post on the dangers of an ultratraditionalism which manufactures its own (often fierce) shibboleths upon a slight or even non-existent basis in the actual Tradition. An example of this problem (in addition to those I gave there) is the antipathy of some ultratraddies to the least whiff of anything savouring of Ecumenism ... especially communicatio in sacris between those in full communion with the See of Peter, and those not. They see this as another piece of post conciliar liberalism, and to be reprobated by Traditionalist Catholics.

This is why I welcome so warmly the admirable blog of the Transalpine Redemptorists which has recently published papal permissions from over the last seven centuries. I was not surprised to read the teaching of Pope Benedict XIV; that most erudite of Pontiffs knew his history too well to believe that the Auctoritas of the Tradition completely excludes such sharing. But I was particularly interested in the Toleration which Pius X signed for the Ukrainians in 1904; I was unaware of that. I could back up the evidence provided by the Redemptorists with accounts about how the authorities on both the Catholic and Orthodox sides positively encouraged all manner of sharing in the eighteenth century Aegean.

As soon as the Ordinariates have settled down, I hope consideration will be given to the question of how those provisions about this matter which are contained in the current Code of Canon Law should be used in the Ordinariates, so to enable them best to fulfil their role as effective ecumenical bridges which promote the restoration of full communion between separated Christians and the See of Peter.


peregrinusto said...


Would you direct us to the Redemptorist blog please.

peregrinusto said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Most interesting! i must have a look at the site of the Transalpine Redemptorists. It is true, that Roma has always been keen to promote unity amongst christians, even by allowing limited communicatio in sacris. But only with those Christians (historically only with the Eastern Orthodox, more recently alswo with the Polish National Catholics and Old Catholics). However, it can only be considered a sacrilegious abuse, the modern-day allowing of reception of Catholic Sacraments by those who call themselves Christians, but do not believe in the Real Presence, nor in the grace-giving Sacraments in general. For example, a Protestant (calvinist or oherwise) may supposedly receive HOly Communion in the Catholic Church if he asks for it. But how can he beleive in the Real Presence if he offically subscribes holds to the Calvinist Articles of Faith which condemn the Catholic Mass as a pagan abomination? Unlike a Roman Catholic, this protestant need not have been absolved of serious sin before receiving, nor is his marriage situation under question as in the case of Roman Catholics. How is this not a great injustice and demoralising to those who still do believe in the Real Presence? The example shown by Cardinal Ratzinger in giving the Sacrament to the Reformed christian Brother Roger of Taize during the most public of celebratinos, the funeral of John Paul II, was this not such an inflammatory gesture? And for Catholics to receive the pseudo-sacraments of calvinists and other protestants, as often happens in the country where i now live, or even worse, the ''concelebration'' of the Eucharist by Catholic priests toggether with protestants who do not even pretend to have the Apostolic succession and true Sacraments, is an abominable post-conciliar abuse, which gives even the slightest ecumenical overture a bad name amongst thoughtful, faithful Catholics. Unhappily, the present situation is very much the fault of the Catholic Hierarchy, which has encouraged such abuses by vague permissions, tacit approval and long-lasting toleration of illicit communicatio in sacris, as well as numerous other sacrilegious abuses regarding the Most Holy Sacraament of the Altar, some you would find hard to beleive! and even other Sacraments, such as Extreme Unction, oft performd in hospices and hospitals by laymen and protestants, who easily get the oil from a Catholic priest. As much as i find rigourism distatseful and uncatholic, i can't help but sympathsie when it regards the Sacraments: this rigourism is born out of deep pain caused by officially sanctioned or tolerated scandal on the part of the Vatican and Bishops who seem no longer able or willing to distinguish any more between the public adherence to orthodox faith, and the public adherence to formal heresy as a criterion for establishing who may exceptinoally receive the Sacraments of the Catholic Church.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Canon Law only permits those to receive the Blessed Sacrament whose belief is identical with that of the Catholic Church. Concelebration is not permitted in any circumstances whatsoever.

I get to the Papa Stronsay Redemptorists by googling Transa;lpine Redemptorists.

Anonymous said...

I should like to clarify, as to what i wrote here above: ''the public adherence to orthodox faith, and the public adherence to formal heresy as a criterion for receiving the Sacraments of the Catholic Church'', that by ''orthodoxy'' and ''heresy'' I refer only the outward confession of faith in the Sacrament to be received by the non-Roman Catholic. I realise that there are non-Roman Churches, and their adherents, whose faith regarding the Sacrament(s) is fully orthodox, and I have myself given the Holy Communion to Coptic Orthodox and Greek Orthodox Christians. And the Calvinist Articles of Faith i refered to is the Heidelberg Catechism of the Dutch Reformed Church.

Conchúr said...

Brother Roger of Taize explicitly affirmed the Catholic understanding of the Eucharist. Also I was under the impression that it was an open secret that he had been quietly received into the Church decades before his death.

eulogos said...

My husband's evangelical Anglican parish (in ACNA) recently hired a music minister who also plays for a Catholic Church. He and his wife are Catholics and they receive at both churches. I understand how people are thinking who do this. They have no understanding of the issues which divide us and only perceive that the Anglicans are faithful Christians. Even though the theology of salvation is evangelical the celebration of the Eucharist is far "higher" than that by many a Catholic priest in this area, and has nothing about it which would make it not appear to be a mass to those without a careful ear for the lack of reference to Eucharistic sacrifice. I think of saying something to them, but I know that it would appear only narrow minded and priggish of me. I am not one of those Catholics who thinks that the Eucharist in an Anglican church is a mere show. I was actually converted in an Episcopal church 38 years ago when I lightly and foolishly went up with the crowd to recieve, not knowing at all what I was doing, and God mercifully showed me His presence there. So, however it may come to be, Dutch touch or God's special provision, I believe our Lord is there, and I am often very sad myself not to join with these good people in their very reverent communion. So what can I say to these Catholics communing with Anglicans? If I told them they are committing a "delict of schism" would I be saying anything which would enter their understanding? Wouldn't I be acting out of self rightousness rather than love?

If I did this now, for me it would be an act of schism. Subjectively one can't say the same thing about these people. It might even be wrong to put a doubt in their minds when they will probably continue to do this.

Susan Peterson

The Raven (C. Corax) said...

The Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer (the Transalpine Redemptorists) can be found at http://papastronsay.blogspot.com

Conchúr said...

Communicating non-Catholics, in certain circumstances, who have a Catholic understanding of the Eucharist is one thing. Catholics taking communion in a church which does not have valid sacraments and has great variance in belief as to the nature of sacraments is utterly different - it is de facto a heretical act and possibly a schismatic act too since they are not adhering to Eucharistic discipline upheld by their bishop.

eulogos said...

Yes, but Conchur, they don't understand this! Nor would they understand it just because you, or I, went up to them and told them so.
They really have a Protestant "invisible church" ecclesiology,as do most ordinary Catholics I know these days. Some Catholic priests in this area would tell them that what they are doing is just fine, and I am not just guessing this. So my idea is that they are doing this ignorantly, in good but uneducated conscience. It bothers me partially because if I tell people there I can't receive with them because I am Catholic and my church forbids it, and then they see these others, it makes me seem as if I individually am rejecting communion with them. It bothers me because I feel the pain of the separation and they are living as if there is no separation. So each time I see them do it, I think about saying something, and each time I think both that my motives are impure, and that they will likely not be helped by my doing so.
Susan Peterson

Anonymous said...

St. Pius X "against" intercommunion with schismatics. Found this quote in a book I read with many others "against" intercommunion:

St. Pope Pius X (1835-1914):

“But where a deplorable schism tore a
great number of Eastern Christians from
the center of Catholic unity, it was no
longer possible to continue such a
praiseworthy custom [that is, communion
with the Greeks prior to 1054 A.D.].
Michael Cerularius, who was not satisfied
with uttering poisonous calumnies against
the customs and ceremonies of the Latins,
openly declared that the consecration of
the unleavened bread was null and void [in
the Latin church]. It was then that the
Roman Pontiffs, careful of their Apostolic
duty, to prevent the Latins from falling
into error, forbade them to consecrate or
receive the Blessed Eucharist under the
species of leavened bread.

As for the Greeks [converts] who returned
to the faith and Catholic unity, they [the
Popes] allowed them to communicate with
unleavened bread in Latin churches, a
measure which, considering the times and
places [the Greek converts had to use Latin
churches], was certainly not fitting but

In fact, as at that time it was not
easy to find Greek bishops who
were united to St. Peter’s Chair
and very few Catholic churches
of the Eastern rite existed, it was
to be greatly feared that
Catholics of the Eastern rite, if
not allowed to communicate in
Latin churches, would frequent
schismatic [so-called Orthodox
churches] and Pastors and would
run the risk of losing their faith.”

(Apostolic Constitution Tradita ad antiquis, Sept. 14, 1912. See also:
Papal Teachings: The Liturgy, Selected and Arranged by the Benedictine Monks of Solesmes,
Translated by the Daughters of St. Paul, Boston, Mass. 1962, p. 222).