Sunday, May 22, 2011

Intercommunion in Queensland

While some Catholics now access the Traditional Rite unimpeded, and the Benedictine Reform proceeds, what with the newly retranslated Missal coming in and even Eastward facing celebrations occurring, in other corners of the Church abuses fester.

Years ago, I heard tell of the long-term plan of the Catholic episcopate and clergy in Queensland: to foster "Eucharistic sharing", or rather purported intercommunion between Catholics, Anglicans, Uniting Church persons and other Protestants.  At the time, I rejected this as unbelievable, but now – hearing that such may have occurred in Toowoomba – I am not so sure.

The project intended to solve the shortage of clergy by having Catholic Mass said in a given place only a few times a month, but to arrange with the local mainstream Protestants to do likewise, staggering the times so that all local Catholics, Anglicans and so forth would indiscriminately attend Catholic Mass on one or two Sundays (this being the only service for all groups), and on the other Sundays go to an Anglican Eucharist or even a Uniting Church Communion service.

I repeat, this idea seemed to me so outré that I refused to countenance such a scheme existing, but now I fear it may be true.

Recall the strangeness of Morris' notorious Advent pastoral letter in calling, not merely for having married clergy (which all know to be a disciplinary matter most unlikely to be changed) or women ordained (which the Church declares impossible), but for recognizing Anglican and Uniting Church holy orders?  To recognize Anglican orders would of course be impossible according to the decision of Leo XIII (which itself but reaffirmed the constant practice of the Church), and as the Uniting Church (derived from the amalgamation of Methodists, Congregationalists and Presbyterians) has no threefold ministry, there is no chance of their orders being ruled valid by Rome.

However, given the mindset and the heterodox theological education of most clergy in Australia, they simply would not regard these in truth insuperable obstacles as serious issues.  Hence this madcap plan.

I am sure aCatholics would have little trouble with such intercommunion: indeed, if they will not join the Anglican Church despite their utter agreement with its ordination of women and allowance of divorce, remarriage, homosexual liaisons, contraception, abortion and so forth, what better than to be in full intercommunion with it?

Morris was simply so great a fool and so arrogant that he made public, in writing, what subtler and more knowing clergypersons preferred to discuss and work towards on the quiet.

I have myself seen, at the Catholic funeral of a friend of mine in country Victoria, a Mass celebrated in presence of the local Catholic bishop, the local Protestant clergy come up and receive communion!  This friend was no friend of them, nor a lover of the new rite (indeed, I arranged a Missa cantata of Requiem for his soul back in Melbourne as some sort of making up for this hideous abuse at his funeral), so I can see no pretext for this illicit intercommunion.

Illicit intercommunion for Protestants at Catholic services, and invalid intercommunion for Catholics at Protestant services: as I say, I thought this simply impossible to believe, but I have heard of cases of both.

In all this, there is no understanding nor acceptance of the Catholic practice of closed communion: only those in full communion with the Church may receive Communion at Catholic altars (with certain exceptions made by recent Canon Law, which do not extend to such abuses as mentioned above – as if a Catholic could validly, let alone licitly, receive Protestant communion: it would be bread-worship; or as if a Protestant, not believing Catholic doctrine about the Eucharist, could receive It).  Bizarrely, Lutherans understand this better than some Catholics!

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