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Non-Catholic Communion is not so rare

SIR – Far be it from me to argue with a distinguished canon lawyer, but I wonder is Ed Condon entirely accurate in considering reception of the Eucharist by a non-Catholic as a rare event?

In his review at catholicherald.co.uk of the German bishops’ proposal to extend the reception of the Eucharist to the Protestant party in a mixed marriage, he writes that such Communion is rare and restricted to “danger of death” or comparable “grave necessity” by the Code of Canon Law.

Pope St John Paul has written: “It is a source of joy to note that Catholic ministers are able, in certain particular cases, to administer the Sacraments of the Eucharist, Penance and Anointing of the Sick to Christians who are not in full communion with the Catholic Church but who greatly desire to receive these sacraments, freely request them and manifest the faith which the Catholic Church professes with regard to these sacraments” (Ut Unum Sint par 46, 1995). He does not appear to be limiting the concession to danger of death.

I served as summer replacement in the European parish in Luxembourg for many years. On my first Sunday, I was approached by a member of the Anglican parish who courteously told me that the archbishop of Luxembourg had given them permission during the summer months to receive at a Catholic Mass, since they would be without the nourishment of the Lord’s Body for a considerable time (a month or more). During this time a lay reader conducted the Morning Prayer service in the Convict (Seminary) Chapel which the archdiocese had put at their disposal.

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