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Anonymous wrote:

Hi guys,

  • If a member of the Eastern Orthodox faith or member of a Church with a valid Eucharist was in an RCIA program, could they receive the Eucharist in the Catholic Church?

Would such a candidate have to:

  1. Enter a RCIA program?, and if so
  2. Would they have to wait to receive Holy Communion?

Thanks!

Anonymous

  { Can an Eastern Orthodox convert in RCIA receive the Eucharist in the Catholic Church? }

Mary Ann replied:

Hi Anonymous,

It's not RCIA that is in question, it is the full membership in the Church via the profession of faith and the expression of the unity of faith by receiving the Eucharist.

As a rule, Orthodox are not allowed to receive the Eucharist in the Catholic Church unless they are unable to receive in an Orthodox church, because the reception would be an expression of a unity which is not there. The same is true for us receiving the Eucharist at an Orthodox Mass.

Out of a respect for the unity, an Orthodox person would wait but really, an Orthodox person wouldn't have to do much of anything during RCIA accept:

  • to acknowledge the Petrine Office
  • the procession of the Spirit from the Father and the Son, (which they have already found a way to agree on), and
  • a few other disciplinary things.

I would think there would be, little to, no process for an Orthodox to enter the Church.

That person could quite simply join RCIA as a sort of introduction to the community, which tends to be what it is for an Orthodox joining the Church anyway.

Mary Ann

John replied:

Hi Mary Ann,

As a rule, Catholics are not allowed to receive the Eucharist at an Orthodox Church.

I really don't believe that is the case, the other way around.

I believe the statement in the guidelines printed in our Catholic missalettes say Orthodox Christians (and I think Polish Catholics) are to follow the instruction of their bishops, but the Catholic Church has no canons against it.

John

Eric replied:

Hi guys,

This may help.

Canon 844

§2. Whenever necessity requires it or true spiritual advantage suggests it, and provided that danger of error or of indifferentism is avoided, the Christian faithful for whom it is physically or morally impossible to approach a Catholic minister are permitted to receive the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick from non-Catholic ministers in whose Churches these sacraments are valid.

§3. Catholic ministers administer the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick licitly to members of Eastern Churches which do not have full communion with the Catholic Church if they seek such on their own accord and are properly disposed. This is also valid for members of other Churches which in the judgment of the Apostolic See are in the same condition in regard to the sacraments as these Eastern Churches.

Eric

John replied:

Thanks Eric!

So my read of Canon 844 §3 is that Orthodox Christian can of their own free will licitly receive sacraments in the Catholic Church under ordinary circumstances.

Whereas Canon 844 §2 limits Catholics to doing the same in Orthodox Church to extraordinary circumstances.

John

Mary Ann replied:

Hi, guys —

I said that Catholics are allowed to receive the Eucharist at an Orthodox Church when a Catholic Church is not available, just as the Orthodox are allowed by us to receive the Eucharist at a Catholic Church, in that case.

That said, the Orthodox Church does not, I think, allow their members to receive at the Catholic Church, so the Church would want them to follow the instructions of their Church. Nevertheless,
in an emergency, or for serious reason, they could, of course, receive Eucharist from a Catholic priest.

This is licit to the Catholic Church, but not licit to the Orthodox Church, except, I believe, in an emergency.

Mary Ann

Eric replied:

One final comment:

The Orthodox are typically prohibited by their own bishops from receiving from us, and we are typically prohibited from receiving from them, but there have been known to be exceptions.

Eric

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