By Alex Cosgrave
UNTIL the Anglican partner in a mixed marriage can receive Communion during the marriage service there are grave doubts that the wedding should take place during a Mass, according to Bishop John Trillo, Anglican Bishop of Chelmsford.
Writing a commentary on the Catholic Church's Revised Directory on Mixed Marriages, Bishop Trillo said that it was "disappointing" that the non Catholic partner was not allowed to receive Communion and that Anglicans felt that there was "a strong case here for a dispensation".
He added: "We pray that our two Churches may be so drawn together that that all-important barrier may be removed."
In what may be construed as a warning, particularly as the commentary is designed for use by Anglican clergy counselling those involved in mixed marriages, Bishop Trillo said that "until the couple are able to receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion together one must doubt the propriety of performing such a wedding in the context of the Mass."
It was anomalous that the couple made one in the Sacrament of Marriage should be immediately separated in the Sacrement of Holy Communion he said.
In an introduction to the commentary "Marriages between Anglicans and Roman Catholics" Dr Donald Coggan, Archbishop ot Canterbury, repeated his call for inter communion which has been a persistant theme of his speeches this year.
Considerable progress in mixed marriages had been made in recent years but Anglicans would not be content "until the barrier which separates families at the Communion Table" was removed, said Dr Coggan.
In general, the way in which the Catholic Church's rules on mixed marriages were applied varied from diocese to diocese and parish to parish, said Bishop Trillo.
In addition, the Vatican ruling forbidding nonCatholic partners from receiving Communion at their wedding "is certainly very much more rigidly applied in this country than in some others," he said.
Bishop Trillo also regretted that Pope Paul's letter and the directory compiled by the bishops of England and Wales on how the letter should be implemented showed no evidence of the "special relationship" of the Catholic and Anglican Church of which Pope Paul often spoke.
On the other hand the Bishop welcomed much of the directory. The definitions it contained about the extent of the Catholic partner's obligation to bring up any children of the marriage as Catholics were "very helpful" he said.
Anglicans particularly supported the suggestion that clergy of both Churches should exercise joint pastoral care for a couple both before and after the wedding.
The Church of England would, however, prefer to call a marriage between a Catholic and an Anglican an "inter-Church marriage" rather than a "mixed marriage" — a term it reserved for marriages between a Christian and a person of another Faith.