Archbishop: Rules for sharing Eucharist could relax

An English Catholic archbishop believes the Vatican may be willing to relax the circumstances for sharing Eucharist with members of other Christian denominations.

Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham said that the 1993 Ecumenism Directory made certain relaxations in the rules for the sharing of Eucharist.

“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,” he said.

Archbishop Longley is the Catholic co-chair of the Third Anglican/Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC III).

He was speaking to an Anglican publication 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 (Anglican) Commission for Christian Unity and Dialogue.

Asked if he felt healing on the issue would indeed come, the archbishop said, “I know that that will be the case”, and described the “pain” of division at the Eucharist as “a spur” towards resolving the issue.

However, he also pointed to how, over the past several decades, “further challenges — obstacles, if you like — in the way of that have been placed before us and they also have their part to play in what holds us back from sharing the Eucharist together”.

Affirming that a further relaxation in the Vatican’s regulations “could happen”, the archbishop added, however, that he “wouldn’t like to predict the rate or the pace of change towards that”.


Anglican Communion News Service

Image: MSN News

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