Blunt Communion comments get brief responses

Anglican and Catholic spokespeople in New Zealand have given brief responses to blunt comments by the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship about Anglican orders, Eucharist and intercommunion.
In an interview on the Aleteia website, Cardinal Robert Sarah responded to remarks Pope Francis made in Rome last month to a Lutheran woman who said she was sad she could not receive Communion with her Catholic spouse.

“I will not ever dare to give permission to do this because it is not my competence,” the Pope said.

“One Baptism, one Lord, one faith. Speak with the Lord and go forward. I do not dare to say more,” Francis told the woman.

Cardinal Sarah was asked in the Aleteia interview if a priest could give Holy Communion to both husband and wife if he knows one is Catholic and one is not?

The cardinal responded: “No, we give Communion to Catholics. Many priests have told me: ‘I give Communion to everybody.’ It’s nonsense.”

Cardinal Sarah then mentioned the type of instance when a non-Catholic Christian could receive Catholic Communion. “Sometimes, an Anglican who is very far away from his church for a very long period of time and who desires to receive Communion, can participate in Mass and receive Communion in the Catholic Church, where there is no sin, and he is properly married.

“Because they believe in the Eucharist, even if in the Anglican church is it not actually the Eucharist because there is no priesthood.

“But it is rare and would happen under very exceptional circumstances. This is something extraordinary and not ordinary.”

Cardinal Sarah, who is from Guinea, continued: “But a Catholic cannot receive Communion in the Anglican church, because there is no Communion; there is only bread.

“The bread is not consecrated, because the priest is not a priest. With the break of Henry VIII with the Catholic Church, priestly orders in the Anglican Church became null and void.
“So the consecration isn’t valid, and therefore it’s not the Eucharist.”

NZ Catholic received brief answers from New Zealand Anglican church and Catholic bishops’ conference spokespeople, who were asked to comment on Cardinal Sarah’s comments.

Anglican spokesman Rev. Jayson Rhodes said: “I think we enjoy a generous Anglican and Roman Catholic relationship in New Zealand so see no need to respond to the reported comments.”

New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference spokesperson Simone Olsen said: “Here in New Zealand where Anglican and Roman Catholic communities gather to celebrate liturgies together there is no intercommunion, however there is full respect for what is taking place.”

Earlier this year, the chairman of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission, Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham, UK, expressed a “personal view” that it was “… right to draw attention to the changes which we have already seen on the basis of a deeper theological understanding of one another’s churches”.

“And on that basis the 1993 Ecumenical Directory made possible the reception of Holy Communion by the baptised who are not members of the Roman Catholic Church in a number of specified circumstances and with certain criteria. “Given that that represents a change and a very significant shift away from the impossibility to the limited possibility then I could imagine and foresee one of the fruits of our ecumenical engagement as moving towards a deeper understanding of communion and a deeper sharing between our churches …  which perhaps would lead to a reconsideration of some of the circumstances.”

Anglican ARCIC member Bishop Christopher Hill said that the influence of Pope Francis could mean that the time is ripe for change.

Bishop Hill noted that Rome is considering updating the Ecumenical Directory.

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Michael Otto

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