BY CHRISTINA WHITE
THE BISHOPS of England and Wales have issued guidelines for priests who wish to welcome Christians of other denominations to their churches.
The proposed "declaration of ecumenical welcome" sets out the terms under which non-Catholics may participate in a Catholic Mass, or use a Catholic church for their own services if there is none available.
The guidelines are discussed in full in the October issue of Briefing, the official publication of the Catholic bishops' conferences of England, Wales and Scotland.
The norms seek to resolve the thorny issue of how Catholics may welcome other denominations when their church is the only place of worship in a village and what Catholics should do when there is no local Catholic church. The guidelines do not remove the "serious obligation" for Catholics to attend Mass on Sundays.
At the Eucharistic celebrations of other Christians, Catholics may, if invited, "receive a blessing at Communion" and may "read the lesson, take part in intercessory prayer and participate in music, dance and drama".
The Catholic priest may, if invited, celebrate Mass in the village church but the "usual conditions concerning participation by nonCatholics apply".