DURING his visit to the late Pope Paul, Dr Coggan caused something like consternation by suggesting from the pulpit of the Episcopalian Church in Rome that Anglicans and Catholics should forthwith extend eucharistic hospitality to each other.
The Catholics had not been forewarned, and some in the Vatican were undoubtedly miffed by what they thought was a breach of protocol. He should not, they thought, have let off his bombshell without due warning. Archbishop Coggan saw such hospitality and tolerance as a step towards reunion.
Cardinal Hume had to find a courteous way of saying "No" to this. He said inter-communion should be the fruit of reunion and not merely a step towards it.
But I see that the matter was raised again at the National Conference of Priests held in Birmingham last month.
A motion suggested that "the discretion allowed in administering the Blessed Sacrament to non-Catholic Christians who are not able to receive the sacrament in their own churches, be extended to include husbands and wives on the occasion of their marriage, and on other significant family occasions such as the Baptism, first Holy Communion and Confirmation of their children."
In the end the priests voted not to vote on the matter. But there was clearly a good deal of disagreement about it all. And it remains a somewhat awkward question.
It is known that some priests turn a blind eye to the matter, only trying not to cause any scandal. I have seen rows of Catholic priests who were attending a meeting of the World Council of Churches in Sweden in the guise of journalists, take Communion from Lutheran clergy at a particularly emotional Eucharistic Service.
Many Anglicans delight in taking Communion at Catholic Masses on the Continent and the French think we make heavy weather about the whole thing.
At the conference, Archbishop Worlock said he had never given leave for the practice in his archdiocese. but that he had once. at Lourdes, allowed a sick Anglican pilgrim to receive Holy Communion.
But it can be a genuinely painful experience when suddenly brought face to face with the problem. It is fortunate that Anglicans in this country are exquisitely courteous about the matter and understand or at least obey our views — even when a Mass is being said, for some
reason or other, in one of their own churches.
And at a house Mass it can be agonising to have pointedly to pass over an Anglican guest who believes fully in the Real Presence but does not accept the unique authority of the Church.
I cannot say I have ever felt deprived by being forbidden to take an Anglican Communion. But then it is not they who have forbidden me. But that we, in all our certitude, should feel some unease and embarassment shows how far our attitudes have changed and I think the change is in a Christian direction.
The Image of the Face
I SUPPOSE it is all a part of this new interest in the paranormal. We are no longer quite so certain of the certainties of science. It does not necessarily involve an increase or a new belief in God.
It may only represent a loss of confidence by society, but things that would have been laughed at a few years ago, or dismissed as superstitution or self-deception or chicanery, can now be taken seriously.
Yet I do not think we are grasping at straws. In a way, we have been liberated and enlarged, given an extra dose of intellectual freedom.
Healing without the use of medicine or the knife has become an accepted practice, and it is significant that it is no longer called "faith" healing. Extra-sensory perception is seriously investigated. The phenomena of Padre Pin no longer require a blind faith for acceptance.
Some are still suspect as sub