Vatican’s rules on eucharistic sharing could be further relaxed

7 October 2013 • Persistent link:

The Roman Catholic co-chair of the Third Anglican/Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC III) has expressed his personal view that, seeing how in 1993 certain relaxations were made in the Vatican’s rules on eucharistic sharing, further relaxation is possible.

Speaking last week to the Gazette editor following a joint session of the National Advisers’ Committee on Ecumenism of the Irish (Roman Catholic) Episcopal Conference and representatives of the Church of Ireland’s Commission for Christian Unity and Dialogue, at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, the Most Rev. Bernard Longley — Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham and ARCIC III co-chair — referred to the changes in “specified circumstances” set out in the 1993 Ecumenism Directory.

He commented, “Given that that represents a change, and a very significant shift away from the impossibility to the limited possibility, then I could imagine and foresee one of the fruits of our ecumenical engagement as moving towards a deeper understanding of communion and a deeper sharing, a deeper communion between our churches which perhaps would lead to reconsideration of some of the circumstances.”

Asked if he felt healing on the issue would indeed come, the archbishop said, “I know that that will be the case,” and described the “pain” of division at the Eucharist as “a spur” towards resolving the issue.

However, he also pointed to how, over the past several decades, “further challenges — obstacles, if you like — in the way of that have been placed before us and they also have their part to play in what holds us back from sharing the Eucharist together.” He instanced differences over the recognition of clerical orders.

Affirming that a further relaxation in the Vatican’s regulations “could happen,” the archbishop added, however, that he “wouldn’t like to predict the rate or the pace of change towards that.”

Longley said that the coming together of members within ARCIC III was itself “an experience of communion”, adding, “Because of the balance, I think, of pastors, church leaders and theologians in their various fields, there is a real respect for the gifts of each other and there has been a real sense in which we’ve been able to exchange those gifts and receive from one another.”

AUDIO: The Roman Catholic Co-Chair of the Third Anglican/Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC-III), the Most Revd Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham, talks to the Gazette editor, Canon Ian Ellis.