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Suzanne wrote:

Hi, guys —

Nancy asked a similar question to mine. I was born, baptized and confirmed in the Catholic Church. Ten years ago I was received into the Episcopal Church.

  • Am I still a Catholic?
  • Can I receive the sacraments?

I am interested in going back to the Catholic Church but not sure if I can receive Holy Communion.

Thank you,

Suzanne

  { As a Catholic who left for the Episcopal church, can I return and receive the sacraments? }

John replied:

Hi, Suzanne —

When you entered the Episcopal Church you committed two sins: heresy and schism. Technically, you may be under an undeclared excommunication. In most cases, people in your situations simply need to go to Confession and then resume living the Catholic sacramental life.

However, it depends. Sometimes when people leave the Church and are received into another Protestant community, it's a public event and their is a bit of fan fair. Sometimes, the person begins to take public positions against Catholic teaching, and in some cases, the person becomes very active and is publicly known to be in ministry of another religious community.

In these cases, the priest needs to get authority from the Bishop to receive you back into the Church publicly; usually, in front of two Catholic witnesses. The reason the person, in this case, would have to be received back publicly is related to the seal of Confession. The seal requires that the priest not reveal who, if any, has been to Confession.  Also, if the congregation knew you as an Episcopal, it would cause scandal to see you receiving the Eucharist. This process takes a few days; it's not a big deal.

The first step is to go talk to a good priest and tell him your story. Tell him the circumstances under which you left the Church and he'll know what to do or he can find out what steps are necessary to quickly bring you back into the Church. He can also hear your Confession immediately, seeing you will need to do that as part of returning to the Church anyway.

Finally, I would encourage you to get some faith formation. You technically don't need to go through RCIA because you were confirmed, but it wouldn't be a bad idea to go through the program as an observer. See if your parish will allow you to do something like that. Seeing you left the Church once, you want to make sure you can come to terms with the Church's teachings,
so you don't leave again.

John

Suzanne replied:

Thanks John.

I never had a problem with Catholic teaching, per se; my husband, an Episcopalian, was not comfortable with it.

Susanne

John replied:

Hi, Sue —

Seeing you are married, we have another problem then. It sounds like you married outside the Church to a non-Catholic without a dispensation from the bishop.

If that is the case, you will more than likely have to have your marriage convalidated.

  • You have to agree to raise the children from your marriage Catholic, and
  • he has to agree not to interfere.

It's a bit more of a process but if you truly want to receive the Body and Blood of our Lord,
which is not available to you in the Episcopal Church, it's worth the effort. Despite what they claim, the Episcopal church does not have validly ordained priests that offer up the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

The forty-nine articles upon which the Anglican Communion of Churches is built, holds that
Holy Orders is not a Sacrament. Although they have ministers who call themselves priests, what you are receiving now is simply bread and wine and not the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.

John

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