Hopes for Anglicans to have Catholic Communion more often

A UK archbishop has signalled that the circumstances under which Anglicans can receive Communion at Catholic Masses could be broadened.

Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham, who is Catholic co-chair of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) stressed he was expressing a “personal view”.

In an interview with the Church of Ireland Gazette, he said that although the two churches now work closely together on a daily basis, it was a source of “pain” that they still could not share communion.

But he pointed to a Vatican document published in 1993 as well as a paper produced by bishops in the British Isles which already allows non-Roman Catholics to receive sacraments in very special circumstances, including if they are in danger of death.

The archbishop was asked whether he thought, given there had already been a limited relation, there could be room for further changes.

He responded: “My personal view is, you are right to draw attention to the changes which we have already seen on the basis of a deeper theological understanding of one another’s churches.”

“And on that basis the 1993 Ecumenical Directory made possible the reception of Holy Communion by the baptised who are not members of the Roman Catholic Church in a number of specified circumstances and with certain criteria.

“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 between our churches . . .  which perhaps would lead to a reconsideration of some of the circumstances.”

He added that it was impossible for him to predict the “speed of change”, but that he hoped existing rules could be made use of.

The Anglican Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Rev Christopher Hill, noted that “Rome is considering updating the [1993]directory”.

Archbishop Longley’s remarks were warmly welcomed by leading figures in the Church of England who said it was time for closer ties.


Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , , , ,