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Rules on Eucharistic sharing could be relaxed

Rules on Eucharistic sharing could be relaxed

Episcopal News Service notes news from the Church of Ireland Gazette:

The Roman Catholic co-chair of the Third Anglican/Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC III) has expressed his personal view that, seeing how in 1993 certain relaxations were made in the Vatican’s rules on eucharistic sharing, further relaxation is possible.

Speaking last week to the Gazette editor following a joint session of the National Advisers’ Committee on Ecumenism of the Irish (Roman Catholic) Episcopal Conference and representatives of the Church of Ireland’s Commission for Christian Unity and Dialogue, at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, the Most Rev. Bernard Longley — Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham and ARCIC III co-chair — referred to the changes in “specified circumstances” set out in the 1993 Ecumenism Directory.

He commented, “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, a deeper communion between our churches which perhaps would lead to reconsideration of some of the circumstances.”

Listen to the interview here


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Dirk C. Reinken

Peter, George Tavard, who wrote several vatican II documents and represented the Roman Catholic Church on the ARC-USA dialogue (older than ARCIC) authored a book laying out how Rome could work through rescinding apostolicae curae. It’s published as A Review of Anglican Orders: The Problem and the Solution.

That Abp Longley would suggest a further relaxing of eucharistic sharing guidelines is possible indicates already a massive change in attitude from the last few years. Rome can do pretty much whatever it wants if the will is there. As I’ve heard more than one Roman theologian say, there are many ways to say one has come to a “new understanding.”

Dirk Reinken

Paul Woodrum

My empathy, Harriet. I attended a wedding and nuptial mass in a RC church not long ago where about 80% of the congregation was not RC. We were told we were welcome but could not receive the sacrament. Some welcome!

On the other side, too often Episcopalians, in spite of their welcoming all baptized Christians to receive the sacrament, decline to place their nuptials within the context of the Eucharist as provided for in the BCP for fear of offending someone. This rather implies all are welcome except Jesus. But then we know how offensive he can be.

Peter Pearson

I have this conversation all the time with RC folks. As I understand it, we believe in the Real Presence but we do not require anyone to adopt a specific understanding of how that happens. Most Catholics say to me, “you don’t believe in Transubstantiation” and then I ask if they could explain it to me… they cannot. So I explain it to them and they are usually even more confused when I am done. This is all so silly because God acts whether we understand or not and to be honest, we never will understand this great mystery— transubstantiation or not. The Eucharist is not a weapon or a litmus test of whether we’re good enough. None of us are good enough but God gives it anyway.

I pray that the RCC will come to understand that some day and stop wounding the Body of Christ over and over again.

Harriet Baber

I’ve taught at a Roman Catholic college for all my adult life. And I’m one of a minority of faculty who is a religious believer. But I can’t go for communion in the college chapel just down the hall from my office. I was told that if I were just someone off the street it would be ok. But since I was a member of the faculty, and a known Episcopalian it would not be ok.

I have lived all my life in worlds where religious belief, and Christianity in particular, is not socially acceptable. And that includes my college, which in spite of its religious affiliation, is representative of Academia: the overwhelming majority of faculty are atheists. I wanted to teach in this place. I wanted to be in a place where, I thought, it would be socially ok to be a religious believer–so I was disappointed. And I was even more disappointed that I could participate in the religious activities.

At the beginning of every academic year we have the Mass of the Holy Spirit. Several years ago the program carried an item telling those of us who weren’t Roman Catholic that while they were soooo happy to have us we shouldn’t go for communion, explaining that the RC church believed int he Real Presence which, of course, we did not. That was the last time I went.

Peter Pearson

I think it would be difficult for the RCC to figure out a way to back out of the 1895-96 statements declaring Anglican Orders invalid. A thorough reading of the history and the responses to that document make it pretty clear that it was a political move and nothing more but now they are committed. If they really seek unity, maybe this would be a good way to begin but like our own government, negotiation is difficult when one group seems to believe it was ordained to rule with absolute authority at the expense of everybody else. Still, it would certainly be a good move on their part. I usually bring a small pyx when I have to attend a family funeral or wedding. That way I can receive even if the priest is not receptive to it. It works for me.

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