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Michael A. Goddard wrote:

Dear Mr. Humphrey:

I have a question that I have asked other sources, but no one I have contacted seems able to answer my question. As I am often hospitalized as an inpatient for a chronic medical/surgical illness, I hope you or one of your resources can assist me.

In the absence of a Roman or Eastern Rite priest, may a Roman Catholic, like me, or Eastern Rite Catholic who is a patient in a hospital, receive Communion and the Sacrament of Anointing from a priest of the:

  1. Polish National Catholic Church
  2. Old Catholic Church, Utrecht Succession
  3. Brazilian Catholic Church of Bishop Carlos Duarte Costa
  4. Greek Orthodox Church

More and more of the aforementioned clergy are ministering in hospitals that do not have Roman or Eastern Rite clergy.

  • Are the sacraments from the above churches valid?

Thank you for your help.

Michael A. Goddard

  { In the absence of a priest, may Catholics receive valid sacraments from these other priests? }

Fr. Nick replied:

Dear Mike:

In the absence and unavailability of a Roman Catholic priest, it would be permissible to receive valid Sacraments from these denominations.

Canonically, the Sacraments would be valid, but illicit, as these churches are not in communion with the Roman Catholic Church.

Fr. Nick

John replied:

In the absence of a priest in union with Rome, a Catholic may avail [him|herself] of the sacraments of any Church which has valid Apostolic Succession.

Of course, some of the Eastern Orthodox priests may not administer them because of prohibitions in the canons of their bishops.

I know nothing about the Brazilian Church. There is a problem with the Old Catholic Church,
in that I've heard some of the bishops have attempted to ordain women. Eventually, if these women are "ordained" bishops, we will have a problem with Apostolic Succession. I'd look into them further.

As far as I know, the Polish Catholic Church has Apostolic Succession.

You could also avail yourself, in an emergency, of Nestorian and Monophysite Churches: Eastern Churches that fell into schism in the fourth century.

All that said, I'm sure that the good Lord is not going to strike you down if your intention is to do the will of Christ when you seek a Sacrament. If you were to unknowingly receive a "sacrament" that was invalid, we can assume that God would impart a spiritual grace on the basis of your faith, and the faith of His Church. That is not a license to knowingly seek invalid sacraments or to disobey. Rather, it is an assurance that if you seek God's will, but fail, God will look at your intention.

I hope that helps.

John DiMascio

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