The letter from "Perplexed" (October 29) concerning Anglicans receiving Holy Cornmunion in our churches, and Bishop Butler's comments, in the same issue, on the Ten Propositions for unity, raise some puzzling problems.
Many priests and people have found, with increased ecumenical contacts, growing sharing in prayer and action, that it becomes almost impossible to say to fellowChristians (should they be at Mass with us) that they cannot approach the altar with us. So possibly nothing is said and the visitor, finding himself totally at one with the service, may come up to receive Communion. Since many churches welcome all Christians, they may riot know our position on Priests do not always know
everyone at Mass, and even if a
priest was aware that the person before him was not a Catholic he might hesitate to cause a public scandal by refusing him. In any case 1 am a little uncertain and maybe I am not alone — on what grounds we refuse. They are baptised Christians, many of whom are simply trying to follow Our Lord's command: 'Take and eat . . . Do this in memory of me." True we are not in full unity. but does this prevent us admitting them to Holy Communion? A regular reading of these correspondence columns might make one wonder if indeed all Catholics are in full unity. Is it correct that we allow the Orthodox Christians to communicate with us, yet in practical terms we are in closer unity with the Anglicans than with them, and Anglicans have certainly not rejected the unity of the Church, they have just developed in a separate tradition.
Is inter-communion always forbidden? Did not Vatican II say that inter-communion was not to be used indiscriminately to further unity? Does this mean it could be used sometimes?
Then there was some reference to the discretion of local hierarchies, but Bishop Butler suggested that they could not act on this matter without the Universal Church. Yet in ecumenism we are all so varied, and perhaps we understand our own situation better? Must we wait for German Lutherans or American Episcopalians before we can make any move towards the Anglicans? Even the Pope spoke of their special position. Also, if we are not united in faith with them on the Eucharist, what is the meaning of our "Agreed Statements" which we were told came from official bodies set up by Rome and Canterbury? What did this agreement mean if we cannot act upon it and admit each other to the Holy Eucharist? Surely we may hope and pray that we will go forward and not simply stick rigidly to pre-conceived at-' titudes of a totally different age and situation.
Even if we cannot yet accept all the propositions, let us hope that our response will not be totally negative. As in so many cases, it may be that people are ahead of the law,
( Mrs) M. Comerford
Beech Tree House, Horseshoe Lane East. Marrow, Surrey,
Walter Clifton (November 6) wonders if even the Disciples who were at the Last Supper had "total belief in what was being done". This because they had not long before been arguing as to which of them would be honoured with the right hand seat in Heaven; and would not
seem, therefore. to have as yet full
And so Mr Clifton proposes, I gather, that Anglicans can be given (Catholic) Communion at least in
the hope that they might, like the Disciples, come to full belief in the Real Presence.
But I would like to point out thal the Gospels do not record any disbelief amongst the Disciples on this occasion. Yet the Gospels have been honest enough to record when the Disciples were incredulous: especially as to how they could possibly eat and drink of Christ's Body and Blood.
We may take it. then, that when the actual moment came they no longer demurred. They took Christ's word for it. This is what all Christians ought to be able to do — or call themselves something else.
Of course, what is given doesn't look like flesh and blood. But then, Christ said, "... my body ..." and,
.". . my blood . . ." It is that pronoun. "my", which is to be
Thomas W. Gadd 171 Church Road, Flixion, Manchester.