08 December 2016
Separate tables; American tragedy; Cardinal dissenters; Jesuit diet; Signs and wonders; Church closure; Richard the baptist
Sue Oakley (Letters, 3 December) argues that interchurch couples should take responsibility for their own actions rather than seek formal approval for sharing Communion, as required by the hierarchy of England and Wales.
Back in the 1990s, my Anglican wife and I knew another interchurch couple who made frequent day trips to Boulogne, where they could receive the Catholic Eucharist without any formal request, because of the different norms adopted by the French hierarchy. In 1999, when we wished to celebrate our silver wedding anniversary, I asked our archbishop, who I knew quite well, for a one-off permission. He rejected my request, as the rules stated that it must be routed via the parish priest. Although we eventually received permission, the whole rigmarole was so tiresome that we have never since repeated the request.
Though my wife and I are quite “capable of carrying out our own discernment”, we know that this is a dangerous thing to do in a parish where one is well known. There is often a minority of lay people ready to report such discernment to the church authorities. This can cause personal grief and also embarrassment to parish clergy. Just the other day I heard of an interchurch family where the Catholic father-in-law had stopped his Anglican son-in-law from receiving the Catholic Eucharist. What a shocking contrast from the lovely priest who once said to me, “Who am I to deny the Body of Christ to anyone?”
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