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One Bread, One Body

An initial response from the Association of Interchurch Families

  1. The Association of Interchurch Families welcomes the publication on 1st October 1998 of the teaching document on the Eucharist and Sacramental Sharing, One Bread One Body, in which the Roman Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, Ireland and Scotland apply for our countries the norms on eucharistic sharing contained in the Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism issued by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Rome, in 1993.
  2. We welcome the clear statement that Catholic teaching allows exceptional eucharistic sharing “when strong desire is accompanied by a shared faith, grave and pressing spiritual need, and at least an implicit desire for communion with the Catholic Church”. (77) We welcome the fact that the Catholic Bishops of these islands “gladly echo the words of Pope John Paul II:

It is a source of great joy to note that Catholic ministers are able, in certain particular cases, to administer the sacrament of the eucharist … to Christians who are not in full communion but who have a great desire to receive [it], freely request [it] and manifest the faith which the Catholic Church professes with regard to [it].” (100)

  1. We welcome the fact that our Bishops explicitly note that the 1993 Directory envisages that a grave and pressing need for eucharistic sharing may be experienced in some mixed marriages, since the sharing together of the sacraments of baptism and marriage creates a sacred bond between husband and wife, and places the couple in a new relationship with the Catholic Church. (110, 111)
  2. We welcome the fact that our Bishops clearly state that “the sacraments should not be denied to those whom the present law of the Church allows to receive them” (115)
  3. We would have wished the Bishops of England and Wales, Ireland and Scotland to have specifically recognised that some families may well experience a continuing serious spiritual need to receive communion together (as for example, the Catholic Bishops of Germany, Southern Africa and Brisbane have done). Instead they have referred to “a unique occasion” (106), a phrase never used in any of the Vatican documents on the subject. We recognise, however, that our Bishops’ document is open to wide interpretation, and that pastoral practice will continue to develop.
  4. We join with our Bishops in their commitment to our common pilgrim path towards reconciliation and full visible unity as Christians. (120) Merely to be able to drop in to one another’s churches for communion would not satisfy those interchurch couples who in their marriages have committed themselves to share everything with each other. Such families pray that their churches will come to a full visible unity comparable to the marriage “partnership of the whole of life”. (79)

(One Bread One Body A teaching document on the Eucharist in the life of the Church, and the establishment of general norms on sacramental sharing: CTS 80 pp £4.95. A booklet with catechetical material 20 pp costs £1.95)

Published by the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Association of Interchurch Families, London England