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Roman Catholic receiving communion at Orthodox Church?


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#1 Kelil

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Posted 08 April 2010 - 09:48 PM

Hi, as a Catholic our Canon Law permits an Eastern Orthodox to recieve the Eucharist in our Church with permission of the Local Bishop. I was wondering what the Orthodox stance is on Roman Catholics recieving the Eucharist in their Church? I've heard numerous things such as...its ok if they permit it, but such permissions would be rare, and I've heard other things such as its never ever allowed, but they may take part in the service if they wish.

if the latter is true, do you feel that such a restriction within the Orthodox Church is a stumbling block to unity? seeing as Both Orthodox priests and Roman Catholics have Holy Orders I find it quite an intimdating restriction and confusing one to say the least. How do you as an Orthodox feel about it?

As most people are unable to read posts and grab the emotion behind the words, I just would request that you read it with the knowledge that I ask in Love and in Peace and with Gentleness keeping in mind I could be more gentle in my every day communications with my Christian Brothers.

Pax Christi
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#2 Theodora E.

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Posted 08 April 2010 - 11:29 PM

Kelil, Catholic canon law permits Catholics to receive in an Orthodox Church *only* if no Catholic parishes are in the area, among some other conditions. Given you're in Ireland, I doubt that would be an issue. I've looked it up on the Vatican website myself in the past when family members/friends had asked. I was raised Catholic. I even called Catholic Answers (a conservative Catholic radio show) years ago to ask about this. And that's where my answer comes from.

This is a Catholic source:

http://www.ewtn.com/...ercommunion.htm

However, regardless of what the Catholic church teaches you, non-Orthodox are *not* given Communion in an Orthodox Church. We are not in Eucharistic Communion with each other, so please do not do what I have personally witnessed - Catholic laity who've been taught that they can receive Communion in an Orthodox parish who actually approach an Orthodox chalice, and when the priest questions them if they are Orthodox, then the Catholic person causes a scene. It ain't pretty.

I come across the following quite frequently in real life: your average lay Catholic is taught either by a priest, Catholic school teacher, or in CCD, that the Orthodox Church has "valid" sacraments (the "valid" is RCC language) and has preserved the apostolic succession. As such, Catholics are permitted to receive Communion in an Orthodox parish. What these folks are *not* taught is that if the Orthodox priest administering Communion knows you're Catholic, you won't be given Communion. Period.

And on the other side, an Orthodox friend teaches at a Catholic school. He is repeatedly told by the principal and the parish priest that he can receive Communion. When he tells them he would be excommunicated in his own Church (Orthodox) for receiving Communion in the RCC, they apparently aren't paying attention, since the question perpetually comes up.

So the answer is:

No. Absolutely not.

And do I feel the restriction is a stumbling block to unity? Absolutely not. The Orthodox position is that there has to be a common faith *before* there is Eucharistic communion. Since that hasn't happened yet, no Eucharistic communion exists.

As I was raised Catholic and have now been Orthodox for more than six years, I can tell you quite plainly that there is a great difference between the Orthodox and the RCC, regardless of what some say.

#3 Kosta

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Posted 09 April 2010 - 04:25 AM

A non-Orthodox person cannot recieve communion in an Orthodox church. And no Orthodox person may recieve in an RC church, regardless of what certian liberal-minded bishops may claim. The canons, creed and decrees of the church are clear on this.

#4 Olga

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Posted 09 April 2010 - 04:59 AM

The RCC may well instruct its flock that, in certain specific circumstances, receiving Communion at an Orthodox church is permissible, but, in practice, this is essentially meaningless and hollow advice. Any Orthodox priest worth his salt is duty bound to commune only those who are baptised Orthodox. An Orthodox Christian who communes in a non-Orthodox church (irrespective of denomination) at best (if ignorant of the implications of this), needs to raise the matter with his priest ASAP; at worst, has effectively put himself outside of the Orthodox Church.

I agree with other posters that unless there is full doctrinal, theological and dogmatic unity between the Orthodox and any other church, there cannot be "shared communion".

#5 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 09 April 2010 - 06:17 AM

As Metroplitan Kallistos put it, sharing the same cup is the aim of union, not a means to it, but, as has been indicated, such union is unlikely to happen.

#6 Eric Peterson

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Posted 09 April 2010 - 12:47 PM

Non-Orthodox pushing to commune in the Orthodox Church without becoming Orthodox and renouncing their errors (and being told by their clergy that this is possible) is a greater stumbling block to "unity." This is a form of uniatism and is quite offensive, especially when done in the name of so-called peace and love. Such peace and love would be false.

#7 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 09 April 2010 - 12:56 PM

Non-Orthodox pushing to commune in the Orthodox Church without becoming Orthodox and renouncing their errors (and being told by their clergy that this is possible) is a greater stumbling block to "unity." This is a form of uniatism and is quite offensive, especially when done in the name of so-called peace and love. Such peace and love would be false.


I agree. It may be that those non-Orthodox clergy who say this do not understand the Orthodox position; but otherwise, it looks like a cynical ploy to take the moral high ground and make the Orthodox appear exclusive (in an age when inclusiveness is assumed to be right).

#8 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 09 April 2010 - 02:20 PM

Kelil wrote:

Hi, as a Catholic our Canon Law permits an Eastern Orthodox to recieve the Eucharist in our Church with permission of the Local Bishop. I was wondering what the Orthodox stance is on Roman Catholics recieving the Eucharist in their Church? I've heard numerous things such as...its ok if they permit it, but such permissions would be rare, and I've heard other things such as its never ever allowed, but they may take part in the service if they wish.

if the latter is true, do you feel that such a restriction within the Orthodox Church is a stumbling block to unity? seeing as Both Orthodox priests and Roman Catholics have Holy Orders I find it quite an intimdating restriction and confusing one to say the least. How do you as an Orthodox feel about it?


I can affirm what others have already posted here. As an Orthodox priest I am not permitted to allow anyone non-Orthodox to receive the Eucharist. If I did so as part of my standard practice I would be seriously reprimanded by my ruling bishop. And if I persisted I would be deposed from serving (ie canonically not permitted to serve as a priest at all). In other words this matter is seen by us as being very serious.

The reason for this is due to what others here have already outlined. Basically for us unity of Faith must come before unity at the Cup.

If I could speak further and honestly- unity of Faith does include all of the standard issues often raised- the understanding concerning the episcopacy ('primacy') and also as to what salvation means in terms of Christ and the Holy Trinity ('filioque'). In this sense it is encouraging for many of us to see a shift towards more traditional standards within the Catholic church.

But further than this a need for a recovery of Patristic piety and ascetic understanding and liturgical sense is also crucial. Here the differences between us are still major and fundamental; and also visible to the faithful especially within parish life which is what much of this comes down to.

In other words what is being said here is that the Church is not of this world- it absolutely must not be if it is to remain authentic to its calling to save the world. Thus the temptation to appeal to the world- something which swept through all western churches during the post War period must be reexamined. Further however since this way of proceeding has been engaged in now for a number of generations with so many of the episcopacy, clergy and laity being greatly influenced that indeed this way is part and parcel of the Christian calling- then indeed the alternative is no longer known or understood in a hands on fashion. In other words the golden chain of Tradition has been broken.

Therefore for a realistic change to occur in terms we as Orthodox would agree with- that would lead to true unity- an open engagement with Patristic standards would have to occur which would then affect and seep through the entire church in the west.

Note that what we are asking for is not sameness of rite or even of sensibility- what we are chiefly looking to is the unity of Patristic vision as formerly seen throughout west & east.

In the Risen Christ- Fr Raphael

#9 Kelil

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Posted 09 April 2010 - 03:51 PM

Hi thank you for your kind and sincere replies. I disagree with the position that unity of faith must come before unity at the cup, I feel that if we share the same faith and Holy orders, drinking from the same cup would be a sure push forward for unity between both Orthodox and Catholic and shouldnt be a problem, along with the unity of the Easter dates ( which is another topic that belongs to another thread).

Thank you for your posts,

I'm a simple lay person so I'm not educated in this area, therefore a discussion with me upon the matter really wouldnt stretch very far but thank you for stating your current position.

Pax Christi
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''May they be one''

#10 Christophoros

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Posted 09 April 2010 - 06:55 PM

... I feel that if we share the same faith and Holy orders...


This is precisely the problem - we do not share the same faith, and the delusions of modernist/renovationist theologians within both communities does not change this fact.

#11 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 09 April 2010 - 07:57 PM

Dear Kelil,

As someone with Irish origins (my grandfather was from Co. Mayo), I feel close to the pre-schism Church of Ireland and Britain, but unity in faith has to be a condition precedent to communion. Please read, 'Communion and Intercommunion' by Kallistos Ware (published by Light and Life, Minneapolis) - this explains everything.

'Aindreas O'Morain'.

#12 Kelil

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Posted 09 April 2010 - 09:34 PM

Dear Kelil,

As someone with Irish origins (my grandfather was from Co. Mayo), I feel close to the pre-schism Church of Ireland and Britain, but unity in faith has to be a condition precedent to communion. Please read, 'Communion and Intercommunion' by Kallistos Ware (published by Light and Life, Minneapolis) - this explains everything.

'Aindreas O'Morain'.


''Unity in faith has to be a condition precedent to communion.'' says who though? Where in Sacred Scripture and Tradition prior to the schism of the Orthodox from Catholic Church does this belief lay? and if not taken from Sacred Scripture and Tradition then who made this man made law up? if not its just another attempt, by theologians to make up their own laws as to who can and cannot receive Christs Body, of which both the Orthodox and Catholics can do since both sides retain the sacrament of Holy Orders.

So I really dont see the problem, thank you for the reccomendation of the proposed book, can it be found on Amazon?

Pax Christi
Kelil <3

#13 Jason H.

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Posted 09 April 2010 - 09:49 PM

"One Lord, one faith, one baptism..." Eph. 4:5

"I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel" Philippians 1:27

#14 Eric Peterson

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Posted 09 April 2010 - 10:07 PM

Unity of faith before communion, as a concept, is clearly illustrated in Church history. There have been heretics (those who hold a faith contrary to Orthodoxy) since the age of the Holy Apostles, and a renunciation of errors and full embracing of the Orthodox faith has always been required before admitting these to communion. Also, if you even look at later, Roman Catholic history, the same was true for the Roman Catholics and the Protestants. It is only very recently, in the age of ecumania, when this rule has been tossed aside in favor "peace and love." But, peace and love without truth is only the form, and not the power of peace and love.

#15 Kelil

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Posted 09 April 2010 - 10:28 PM

"One Lord, one faith, one baptism..." Eph. 4:5

"I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel" Philippians 1:27


Of course and we all retain the one Sacrament of Holy Orders, so I'm still confused as to why we cannot recieve in each others churches.

Thank you for taking time to respond

Pax Christi
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#16 Kelil

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Posted 09 April 2010 - 10:33 PM

Unity of faith before communion, as a concept, is clearly illustrated in Church history. There have been heretics (those who hold a faith contrary to Orthodoxy) since the age of the Holy Apostles, and a renunciation of errors and full embracing of the Orthodox faith has always been required before admitting these to communion. Also, if you even look at later, Roman Catholic history, the same was true for the Roman Catholics and the Protestants. It is only very recently, in the age of ecumania, when this rule has been tossed aside in favor "peace and love." But, peace and love without truth is only the form, and not the power of peace and love.


Hi Eric if that rings true then just quote me one Church father who ( prior to the schism) said that no roman Catholic can receive in their church?

#17 Eric Peterson

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Posted 09 April 2010 - 11:05 PM

Hi Eric if that rings true then just quote me one Church father who ( prior to the schism) said that no roman Catholic can receive in their church?


Your confusion confuses me. Do you want a quote from a post-1054 Church Father referring to pre-1054 Roman Catholics (who were Orthodox), or a pre-1054 Chrurch Father somehow prophetically speaking about post-1054 Roman Catholics (who were not Orthodox)?

Also, what you say about "one" holy orders is inaccurate. While, at sundry times, Roman Catholic clergy have been received into the Orthodox Church without ordination, this has been more of the exception than the rule, I would say. Until the 17th century in Russia and Ukraine, for example, Roman Catholics converting to Orthodoxy were all baptized. It has been much the same case in the Greek and South Slavic lands. And, while many are Chrismated now (although this pendulum appears to be swinging back to baptism), you will find few cases of receiving non-Orthodox clergy without ordination, certainly not if Chrismation or Baptism is required first. Therefore, those cases of vesting or reception by rejection of errors or Confession are the exceptions. We do not share any of the Holy Sacraments in common. I'm sorry you are misinformed.

#18 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 09 April 2010 - 11:08 PM

''Unity in faith has to be a condition precedent to communion.'' says who though? Where in Sacred Scripture and Tradition prior to the schism of the Orthodox from Catholic Church does this belief lay?


The Church exists essentially to provide the Eucharist. As Metropolitan Kallistos (as he now is) mentions, when Russia was suffering its Golgotha, everything was taken away but the Eucharist remained. (When my wife was growing up in the Soviet Union, she went to church but to get past the Komsomol guards at the doors of every church who took the names of all young people entering (if any), her grandmother told them that she, my wife, was 'just helping me', grandmother having affected a limp before coming in sight of the guards. It was not possible to buy the Bible, nor were priests allowed to preach or give advice after confession, not were there sermons. But there was the Eucharist!) There is one bread and one body (1 Cor. 10:17). Metropolitan Kallistos cites a number of patristic authorities about this. There is a vital link between between faith and the chalice (according to contemporary theologians' exposition of the teachings of St Ignatius of Antioch). Remember that a priest is the vicar of the bishop whose first duty is to preside over the celebration of the Eucharist in his area. As St Ignatius says, 'Let no one do any of the things that concern the Church without the bishop'. The priest celebrates the liturgy in the bishop's stead and must commemorate his bishop and serve the liturgy on an antimension signed by the bishop. As Metropolitan Kallistos says, there are three intertwined strands: Eucharistic unity, dogmatic unity, and ecclesial unity, i.e. unity of cup and faith in the bishop. One who partakes of the cup must be in unity with the Church, its faith and accept the faith of the presiding bishop. If a person approaches the cup, he must be part of this three-fold unity. He must believe what the Church teaches and what the bishop believes. The sacrament does not exist apart from the Church. If I do not acknowledge a Roman Catholic bishop as my bishop, how can I take communion from him? It is essential to keep in mind the mystical nature of the Eucharist. There is not one, over-arching 'Church of Christ' because the Church must exist locally in time and space. Well before the communion, we say the Creed 'with one mind' in which we say we believe in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. The crucial word in this context is 'One'. The Orthodox Church views itself from within as One and undivided; it has nothing outside of itself. It is One because it has one faith, it is One Body. The Orthodox Church has 'one mind' as regards faith and worship - that is why it is 'Orthodox'. The Roman Catholic Church and the various Christian denominations are not of 'one mind' with the Orthodox Church. How then could an Orthodox person take communion elsewhere, or how could an Orthodox priest give communion to someone who is not Orthodox though he attended an Orthodox liturgy since he could could say the Creed with the same 'one mind' as the Orthodox?

#19 Kelil

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Posted 09 April 2010 - 11:13 PM

Your confusion confuses me. Do you want a quote from a post-1054 Church Father referring to pre-1054 Roman Catholics (who were Orthodox), or a pre-1054 Chrurch Father somehow prophetically speaking about post-1054 Roman Catholics (who were not Orthodox)?


Hi Eric thanks for taking the time out to respond to me.

If you can quote me one early church father prior to the schism of 1054 that says that roman Catholics can not receive communion in their church that would be nice. we do share the sacrament of Holy Orders, the fact that Catholic priests were received into the Orthodox Church without needing ordination proves my point.

Pax Christi
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#20 Kelil

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Posted 09 April 2010 - 11:23 PM

The Church exists essentially to provide the Eucharist. As Metropolitan Kallistos (as he now is) mentions, when Russia was suffering its Golgotha, everything was taken away but the Eucharist remained. (When my wife was growing up in the Soviet Union, she went to church but to get past the Komsomol guards at the doors of every church who took the names of all young people entering (if any), her grandmother told them that she, my wife, was 'just helping me', grandmother having affected a limp before coming in sight of the guards. It was not possible to buy the Bible, nor were priests allowed to preach or give advice after confession, not were there sermons. But there was the Eucharist!) There is one bread and one body (1 Cor. 10:17). Metropolitan Kallistos cites a number of patristic authorities about this. There is a vital link between between faith and the chalice (according to contemporary theologians' exposition of the teachings of St Ignatius of Antioch). Remember that a priest is the vicar of the bishop whose first duty is to preside over the celebration of the Eucharist in his area. As St Ignatius says, 'Let no one do any of the things that concern the Church without the bishop'. The priest celebrates the liturgy in the bishop's stead and must commemorate his bishop and serve the liturgy on an antimension signed by the bishop. As Metropolitan Kallistos says, there are three intertwined strands: Eucharistic unity, dogmatic unity, and ecclesial unity, i.e. unity of cup and faith in the bishop. One who partakes of the cup must be in unity with the Church, its faith and accept the faith of the presiding bishop. If a person approaches the cup, he must be part of this three-fold unity. He must believe what the Church teaches and what the bishop believes. The sacrament does not exist apart from the Church. If I do not acknowledge a Roman Catholic bishop as my bishop, how can I take communion from him? It is essential to keep in mind the mystical nature of the Eucharist. There is not one, over-arching 'Church of Christ' because the Church must exist locally in time and space. Well before the communion, we say the Creed 'with one mind' in which we say we believe in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. The crucial word in this context is 'One'. The Orthodox Church views itself from within as One and undivided; it has nothing outside of itself. It is One because it has one faith, it is One Body. The Orthodox Church has 'one mind' as regards faith and worship - that is why it is 'Orthodox'. The Roman Catholic Church and the various Christian denominations are not of 'one mind' with the Orthodox Church. How then could an Orthodox person take communion elsewhere, or how could an Orthodox priest give communion to someone who is not Orthodox though he attended an Orthodox liturgy since he could could say the Creed with the same 'one mind' as the Orthodox?


But in order for me to respond I'd have to tackle the ''who is the one true church?'' because since the split of the Orthodox with us Catholics in 1054 it was seen as a schism not a heresy, we still recognise their apostolic succession and the common faith. the problem I have with orthodoxy is that prior to the schism of 1054 they cannot produce one writing from an early church father that agrees with them that Peter was not the rock on which the church was built, in fact the writings of the church fathers are against such a belief, and not one early church father prior to the schism rejects the Papacy of Peter.

“Peter, who is called 'the rock on which the church should be built,' who also obtained 'the keys of the kingdom of heaven...'” Tertullian, On the Prescription Against the Heretics, 22 (c. A.D. 200).


“And Peter, on whom the Church of Christ is built, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail...” Origen, Commentary on John, 5:3 (A.D. 232).
“By this Spirit Peter spake that blessed word, 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.' By this Spirit the rock of the Church was established.” Hippolytus, Discourse on the Holy Theophany, 9 (ante A.D. 235).


“'...thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church' ... It is on him that he builds the Church, and to him that he entrusts the sheep to feed. And although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single Chair, thus establishing by his own authority the source and hallmark of the (Church's) oneness...If a man does not fast to this oneness of Peter, does he still imagine that he still holds the faith. If he deserts the Chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, has he still confidence that he is in the Church?” Cyprian, De Unitate Ecclesiae (Primacy text), 4 (A.D. 251).




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