Anglican Communion

Please give an answer to whether we may receive Holy Communion at an Anglican eucharistic service.  G Delange

King Henry VIII, the effective founder of the Church of England from which Anglicanism derives, in the 16th century rejected the authority of the Catholic Church including the pope, and made himself the head of his own church.

“…the Catholic Church does not accept that celebrating and sharing the Eucharist is an ecumenical exercise.”

He ensured that this new church would be essentially Protestant. The Mass was suppressed together with some other sacraments and practices but the role of bishops and priests was retained.

Shortly afterwards, Pope Paul IV declared that the bishops of this new church intended to ordain its clergy in the Protestant rather than the Catholic sense, with the result that their ordinations were invalid. In other words, men ordained as bishops and priests according to Henry’s Protestant ordinals remained unordained and were not priests in the traditional sense.

This declaration was reaffirmed in 1896 by Pope Leo XIII in his letter Apostolicae Curae.

Consequently, as they evolved with British imperialism and expansionism around the globe, Anglican church structures were planted far and wide. Both extreme Protestant fundamentalism and High Church Catholicism found their place among them, and much of the characteristic beauty of worship and song in the Anglican liturgy has drawn many to appreciate Anglicanism’s positive role in evangelisation. Anglicanism has produced some great and holy Christians, and Catholics have not failed to recognise and appreciate this.

In recent years, Anglicans and Catholics have met at the highest levels to find common ground towards mutual acceptance of their ministries but progress is sporadic.

Anglicans permit Christians of other denominations to receive their Eucharist, usually on the grounds of encouraging ecumenical unity. However, the Catholic Church does not accept that celebrating and sharing the Eucharist is an ecumenical exercise. It is a liturgical action in which the faithful who share the same faith, hierarchical authority, sacramental system and solidarity of the People of God, express their communion with Christ and with one another.

So, even if you attend an Anglican service in which the participants all believe that Christ is really present in the Eucharist, the Catholic Church’s discipline prevents you from accepting a sacrament that is invalid, dubiously valid or even certainly valid, while it is celebrated outside the organic unity of the Catholic Church.

22 Responses to Anglican Communion

  1. Mark Nel September 17, 2012 at 7:50 pm #

    I converted from the Anglican church – I like to say from the the Anglo-Catholic Anglicans – in 1987. There has always been absolutely no doubt in my mind, from the moment that I decided to convert, that I could no longer receive Holy Communion, the sacrament of Confession (yes, there are Anglicans who still use the Sacrament of Confession) or any of the other sacraments in the Anglican Church. Even if I attended one of the services in one of the Anglo-Catholic parishes.

    The challenge for me has always been in deciding how I should address my Anglican priest friends. Yes, I know that they are not priests as we understand priests in the Catholic Church. Yet these Anglican “priests” are friends of mine who I always use to refer to respectfully as Father X or Bishop X.

    I have to date not stopped calling these people by the title Father or Bishop when I refer to them. I have been asked why I continue to do so, especially when I do not believe they are truly “priests”. My only answer has been that it is a sign of respect and that I do not believe it causes scandal when I do so. I wonder what others think about this. Should I stop calling Anglican priests Father or Bishop?

  2. P.R.Margeot September 18, 2012 at 2:06 am #

    In the last paragraph of Mr Shackleton’s article(which is excellent, by the way), to be absolutely clear, one would add that Catholics do not attend an anglican service. There may be exceptions,like a wedding or funeral. By casually attending a Protestant service, a Catholic would signal that he/she would be prepared to Mix error and Truth, that there is no basic difference between us etc.
    That was a most common error/misconception for the past 40 years. We cannot mix Truth and error.

  3. Günther Simmermacher September 18, 2012 at 10:42 am #

    I believe you are doing the right thing by addressing Anglican clergy by the title they prefer. It is indeed respectful. It sticks in my craw when Catholic clergy are not extended the same courtesy.

  4. Vincent Couling September 18, 2012 at 1:53 pm #

    Ouch!

  5. Vincent Couling September 18, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

    On http://www.scross.co.za/2012/02/the-reaffirmation-of-conscience/ Mark Nel posted “Instead you Lord it over us and declare “the matter closed”! It’s not closed. It may be when you correct what is incorrect! When you defend the Pope as vociferously as when you unjustifiably attacked my reference to Egan, using nothing but your own sentiments to justify your attack on me.”

    Incidentally, “Egan” refers to Fr Anthony Egan.

    When in glass houses …

  6. Derrick Kourie September 18, 2012 at 2:27 pm #

    How very ironic that PRM should regard the Catholic Church as a truth-telling thing that gathered together the largest and most authoritative body of bishops in history at Vatican II, at which point they came up with an erroneous teaching! He believes that while the fullness of truth is only to be found in the Catholic Church, it errs when it teaches that we may worship together with those who share some of the truth!

    Mark: I agree with Günther that we should—as a matter of charity—address people by the title that they prefer. However, if someone prefers me to address him / her by a title rather than a first name, I experience that as a distancing rather than an embrace of friendship. When my wife and I met our local archbishop for the first time, we were deeply moved by the fact that he introduced himself by his first name, and expected us to use it. That was an invitation to openness and friendship. It was a recognition of the primary Christian truth that we are all brothers and sisters in the Lord. Jesus keeps telling us that. Titles tend to undermine that truth. For me, it is a secondary truth that there are different functions and authority roles in the body of Christ, some of which happen to have accumulated titles over the years.

  7. Mark Nel September 18, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

    Derrick I agree wholeheartedly. People who insist on titles make me uncomfortable too. First names do invite openness and friendship. I feel extremely uncomfortable when anyone calls me Mr Nel.

    I think that what I mean by the term Father or Sister, etc., when I use it, is that it is not only as a phrase to show respect, but actually more of a term of endearment and affection. Especially with clergy and religious (Anglican or Catholic), who in my opinion are very very special people because of the vocation they have chosen. Many of them do insist on me using their first names, as you have yourself experienced, but I personally seem to always naturally slip back to using the affectionate term Father or Sister.

    I do believe that we need to do more to make the clergy and religious feel special. I don’t mean in the sense of putting them into ivory towers and turning them into little gods. I mean more in the sense of letting them know that we understand that they have taken on an exceptional vocation and that we respect them for that and support them in that… even those who sometimes drive us nuts.

    I think one of the reasons for the decline in vocations may well be because clergy and religious are no longer seen as people who have a “real job”, with a special role that few others can take on.

  8. P.R.Margeot September 19, 2012 at 1:48 am #

    Yes, indeed I do believe that Catholics are not to worship with other faiths or denominations. Otherwise, what’s the use of the Church? Why did our Lord establish His Church? And not others?

    We keep our Catholic Faith and our rosaries and most importantly the M.O.A.T(mass of all time). We also prepare for the social reign of Jesus Christ on Earth. Do not let any one tell you it is impossible in this day and age. The masonic forces do not want His reign. They are His main adversaries, they want a pantheon of religions, they push for anything BUT Jesus Christ: they do not want Him. NOT His reign. Don’t you see that the devil is behind them?

    Once the consecration of Russia is done by the Pope and all (willing) Bishops at the same time, then we will watch things being unlocked. However, it won’t be a pic-nic, we have also been assured….

    Salus animarum, suprema lex.

  9. Vincent Couling September 19, 2012 at 7:35 am #

    Are you working night-shift, PRM? The Church is the People of God. We would do well to remember that the Holy Gospels tell us that Jesus said “for whoever is not against us is for us”.

  10. Vincent Couling September 19, 2012 at 8:03 am #

    I am inclined to prefer a broad, catholic reading of the words “for whoever is not against us is for us”. Secular humanists who love their neighbour as themselves; who look out for the widow and orphan; who see themselves in the homeless, the needy, the hungry; who follows the golden rule “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (not because of “following a rule”, or fear of the consequences of not blindly following a rule, but because the “rule” resonates with the deepest receses of their being … well, they are not against Jesus Christ or His Way, are they? And we have it from Jesus that whoever is not against us is for us”.

    Are such people as these secular humanists not perhaps People of God? Even if their intellect gets in the way, and their rational minds (which are a gift from God) cannot permit them to believe in God as a “construct”.

  11. Paul September 19, 2012 at 10:43 pm #

    Vincent , if everybody was catholic , I would agree with you , but it seems you got the wrong message quoting Mark 9:40 .
    The Lord also says , he who is not with me is against me , and he who does not gather with me scatters .

    The anglican church has unfortunately denied the one true church .

  12. Vincent Couling September 20, 2012 at 8:43 am #

    That was catholic with a small “c”, sweetie.

    “The Lord also says , he who is not with me is against me , and he who does not gather with me scatters .”

    Yes, Paul, that’s pretty much what I was getting at.

    And what precisely does it mean to be for or against the Lord? To gather with the Lord, or to scatter? To be a sheep, or a goat? Well, let’s turn to the Lord’s criteria, as revealed in Matthew 25:

    “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

    “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

    “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

    “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

    “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

    “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

    “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

    “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

  13. Vincent Couling September 20, 2012 at 8:55 am #

    Not much ambiguity there, eh, Paul!

    Nothing about “were you a card-carrying member of the One True Church”.

    Everything about loving your neighbour as yourself; about looking out for the marginalized; about seeing yourself/Christ in the homeless, the needy, the hungry; about following the golden rule of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” … these are the objective criteria, given by Jesus himself, for being with him, and gathering with him.

    I cannot see how the secular humanist I describe above, even be he an atheist, cannot be seen to have worked towards fulfilling these criteria … and it seems this is what truly counts!

    Since this secular humanist is with Jesus, and gathers with him (Jesus being the neighbour the secular humanist tends to) … the secualr humanist “is not aginst us” and so must be “for us”! The secular humanist is thus a member of the People of God!

    In fact, I have this awkward tendency towards catholic thinking, and cannot help but think that ALL human beings are members of the People of God, ALL having been created in His Image and Likeness, and (almost?) all pretty much looking out for others at some stage of their journey, to varying degrees.

  14. Vincent Couling September 20, 2012 at 9:00 am #

    Now, as to believing Christians … well, we have an awesome gift! But this gift brings with it an awesome responsibility!

    “From those to whom much has been given, much is expected. And from those to whom much has been entrusted, even more is expected.”

    Let us be slow to judge those who have not been granted the gift of faith! Let us appreciate that they can often be more Christlike than us believers, in that they can often be more altruistic, more caring and loving of their neighbour.

    Just a little food for thought …

  15. Vincent Couling September 20, 2012 at 9:05 am #

    Paul,

    Just to remove any ambiguity in your mind : catholic (OED) Having sympathies with all; all-embracing; broad-minded, tolerant

  16. Paul September 20, 2012 at 9:23 pm #

    Yes , sympathy indeed .

  17. P.R.Margeot September 20, 2012 at 10:53 pm #

    I sympathise with any Catholic who will kneel down, ask for forgiveness, confess his sins, and try to be as humble as possible,will forgive as much as possible, will tolerate deviations or errors(while remaining strong and firm in the proven ways, Catholics remain strong in this world and happy in the next. Ad astra per ardua.

  18. Mark Nel September 21, 2012 at 9:10 am #

    “Then Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.’” (Matthew 18: 21 – 22)

    “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8: 7)

    Kyrie, eléison. Christe, eléison. Kyrie, eléison.

  19. Vincent Couling September 21, 2012 at 9:32 am #

    A wonderful piece of Holy Scripture, Mark …

    In essence, we get forgiven until we get it right!

    Thanks for that.

    I often get riled by the “we love the sinner, but hate the sin” sentiment. I think that phrase to be unscriptural … we are asked to love the sinner and forgive the sin.

    For me, personally, I am struck by 1 John 4:20 … “If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we have not seen?”

    It reminds me that I have so very much work to do in refining my own inner world, and rather admire PRM’s contribution above. Though much of the kneeling down and confessing should be done in private (in the internal forum, so to speak) between God and his beloved child … and should stay there. And I would tend to extend “I sympathise with any Catholic” to “I sympathise with any person”.

  20. Vincent Couling September 21, 2012 at 9:59 am #

    As regards ecumenism, there is an interesting article in the NCR, entitled “Vatican synod to examine when divided Christians can preach together” … see http://ncronline.org/news/vatican-synod-examine-when-divided-christians-can-preach-together .

    Here we read some exciting news:

    “VATICAN CITY — The potential power, but also the limits, of an ecumenical proclamation of the Gospel and defense of Gospel values is likely to be a key topic during October’s world Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization.

    The ecumenical focus will be particularly sharp Oct. 10 when — at the personal invitation of Pope Benedict XVI — Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury will deliver a major address to synod members.

    While popes have long invited other Christians to be “fraternal delegates” and make brief speeches at the synods, Pope Benedict has begun a tradition of inviting important religious leaders to deliver a major address. In 2008, Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and Chief Rabbi Shear-Yashuv Cohen of Haifa, Israel, addressed the Synod of Bishops on the Bible. Another rabbi and two Muslim leaders gave speeches at the 2010 special synod on the Middle East.

    Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said the invitations demonstrate the pope’s recognition that the “challenges facing religious belief itself and church life are common — no church, no religion is an island — and we need one another and can learn from one another.”"

    This is a nuanced issue, and Bishop Farrell doesn’t attempt to sidestep the serious matters at hand.

    We further read that “Meanwhile, among some Catholics in the early 1900s, “there were the beginnings of a spiritual interest in the idea of prayer for Christian unity,” he [Bishop Farrell] said, but the quantum leap in the Catholic Church’s commitment to ecumenism came with the 1962-65 Second Vatican Council.

    Farrell said the change in the church’s attitude reflected an “education of the bishops at the council, because most of the bishops came with the kind of theology that considered our Protestant brothers and sisters, and the Orthodox to a certain degree, as just outside the church.”

    Through discussions and studies at the council, he said, the bishops gained “a new perspective: We have a common faith in Jesus Christ, we have a common baptism, and this is already a huge element of real communion in the faith.”

    The ecumenical task, embraced by the Catholic church, involves prayer and dialogue to move that communion “from imperfect to perfect,” he said.

    Until the process is complete, however, there will be some limits to the possibilities for ecumenical cooperation in evangelization, because Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans and other mainline Christians aren’t just inviting people to profess faith in Jesus Christ, but to live that faith in his body, the church.

    “There is a kind of superficial ecumenism that says, ‘it doesn’t matter what church you belong to,’” Farrell said, but the Catholic church and most of its dialogue partners reject that view.

    Because Christians aren’t passing on “some Gospel of their own making,” but a faith they have received, “sharing one’s faith means sharing one’s belonging to a particular community that has given me that faith. It means sharing the conviction, in conscience, that the Gospel comes to me in its fullness in this particular community,” the bishop said.

    The role of the church and, in fact, the definition of what it means to be fully church is at the heart of the ongoing, sometimes difficult, theological ecumenical dialogues, he said.

    For the Catholic church, Farrell said, “We can’t work for a common minimum denominator; nor can we say, ‘let’s keep our differences and just accept one another as we are.’

    “We have to aim at whatever is required for the fullness of incorporation into Christ and into the one church he founded. But where is that church?” he said. “That is the question that will trouble us until Christian disunity becomes Christian unity: not uniformity, but true, grace-filled communion in faith and Christian living.”"

  21. Calvin James Montgomery October 1, 2012 at 11:51 am #

    ” Ubi Petrus, ibi Ecclesia” – Where Peter is, there is the Church

    ” Extra ecclesia nullam salus” – Outside the Church, there is no salvation.

    Simply put, the chief end of Ecumenism can be found in the case of ” Anglicanorum Coetibus” whereby the schism of Henry VIII is put aside for true and visible unity with the sucessor of Peter, and the fruits of this can already be seen.

    We cannot and will not forgo the Truth of our faith to appease our separated bretheren who are in error, neither will we play down the revealed truth that Christ is the ‘Way, Truth and Life” who said to Peter “et super hanc Petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam”.

    The Catholic Church with the Pope as its visible head is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, and none other, this is the Church, the one, True Church founded by Christ.

  22. Mark Nel October 11, 2012 at 7:54 pm #

    “Nothing is so foreign to the spirit of ecumenism as a false irenicism, in which the purity of Catholic doctrine suffers loss and its genuine and certain meaning is clouded.” – Unitatis Redintegratio, #11

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