Administration of the Eucharist to Anglicans in Grave Circumstances

Dear Catholic Exchange:

I attend a Catholic Church in rural Oklahoma. We have been told that a member of the Anglican Church can receive the Eucharist in a Catholic church if there is not an Anglican church available.

My husband is a member of the Anglican church in another state and he would very much like to attend Mass with me and share the Eucharist. The parish priest advised us that he was unaware of any such ruling.

Please advise us on this matter and your help will be greatly appreciated


Dear Mary,

Peace in Christ!

Only in special circumstances and when there is grave spiritual need should Communion be given to those who are not in full communion with the Catholic Church.

Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia addresses this question.

“Precisely because the Church's unity, which the Eucharist brings about through the Lord's sacrifice and by communion in his body and blood, absolutely requires full communion in the bonds of the profession of faith, the sacraments and ecclesiastical governance, it is not possible to celebrate together the same Eucharistic liturgy until those bonds are fully re-established. Any such concelebration would not be a valid means, and might well prove instead to be an obstacle, to the attainment of full communion, by weakening the sense of how far we remain from this goal and by introducing or exacerbating ambiguities with regard to one or another truth of the faith. The path towards full unity can only be undertaken in truth” (no. 44, original emphasis).

“While it is never legitimate to concelebrate in the absence of full communion, the same is not true with respect to the administration of the Eucharist under special circumstances, to individual persons belonging to Churches or Ecclesial Communities not in full communion with the Catholic Church. In this case, in fact, the intention is to meet a grave spiritual need for the eternal salvation of an individual believer, not to bring about an intercommunion which remains impossible until the visible bonds of ecclesial communion are fully re-established (no. 45, original emphasis).

United in the Faith,

Eric Stoutz

Information Specialist

Catholics United for the Faith

827 North Fourth Street

Steubenville, OH 43952

800-MY-FAITH (800-693-2484)

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