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Greetings dear let’s talk it friends.

Please I need a clarification.

I am serving in Abuja and in my office, we have interdenominational chapel for Christians and every first Tuesday is their communion service, today I was the only one that did not receive communion and everybody were looking at me as that *sinner*, as a Catholic, am I free to receive the communion?

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  1. Fr. Samson Asadu

    *Communicatio in Sacris cum acatholicus*
    (Communion in Sacred things with non-Catholics)

    The 1983 Code of Canon Law defines the regulations for the lawful administration of certain sacraments, first in the normal circumstances (status quo) and second under exceptional circumstances. Canon law technically calls this regulation *communicatio in sacris* (communion in sacred things). This is contained in canon 844 of the 1983 code of canon law. It is important to state that *communicatio in sacris* concerns three sacraments: Eucharist, Penance and Anointing of the Sick (without prejudice to the possibility of the administration of baptism when an ordinary minister is absent or impeded. Cf. can. 861, §2). Canon 844 states the general rule which applies under normal circumstance: Catholics lawfully receive from Catholic ministers and vice versa; and then outlines three exceptions. The particular circumstance of the inquirer does not fall within the exceptions given by canon 844 for two reasons: 1. the inquirer has access to catholic ministers; non-denominational services are only held in his/her workplace on Tuesdays. Though he/she can participate in the ecumenical worship, he/she is not bound to. On Sundays he/she still goes to a catholic place of worship. 2. Love feast and Holy Communion are two different things. If it were love feast, anyone could participate in it but if it is considered to be Holy Communion understood as the real Body and Blood of Christ, Catholics cannot participate because the Eucharist can only be validly celebrated by a validly ordained Catholic priest or a validly ordained priest of a non-Catholic Church in whose church the Eucharist is considered valid in that his ordination is also considered valid. The ministers in that non-denominational services have no sacred power to administer the Eucharist and a Catholic does not believe in the real presence of Jesus in such communion. Therefore, there is no basis for the reception in the first place. What is she receiving? An ordinary biscuit and wine? So, it is a question of believe: how can one receive communion in which he/she doesn’t believe that Jesus is really and physically present in? It is simply adolatrous to worship a ordinary piece of bread!! If the inquirer still wishes to read more, I outline the normative and exceptional circumstances according to canon 844 on *communicatio in sacris* in layman’s terms as much as I can: I will only lay emphasis on the first exception which concerns this very question.

    *The normative*
    Can. 844 §1. “Catholic ministers administer the sacraments licitly to Catholic members of the Christian faithful alone, who likewise receive them licitly from Catholic ministers alone, without prejudice to the prescripts of §§2, 3, and 4 of this canon, and can. 861, §2.”
    This principle regulates the administration and reception of all the sacraments in the Catholic Church without prejudice to the fact that anyone can validly administer baptism when an ordinary minister is absent or impeded and there is a just reason (can. 861, §2).

    *Exception one: just cause and impossibility of approaching a catholic minister but in some churches only.*
    Can. 844§2. Whenever necessity requires it or true spiritual advantage suggests it, and provided that danger of error or of indifferentism is avoided, the Christian faithful for whom it is physically or morally impossible to approach a Catholic minister are permitted to receive the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick from non-Catholic ministers in whose Churches these sacraments are valid.
    We note the circumstances and conditions:
    ►Necessity or true spiritual advantage
    ►Access to a catholic minister is physically or morally impossible
    ►The sacraments of penance, Eucharist and anointing of the sick are validly celebrated in that non-Catholic Church (to the best of my knowledge there is no non-Catholic Church in Nigeria in which these sacraments are validly celebrated).
    ►Error of indifferentism to be avoided.
    ►Not to be done on individual discretion (Can. 844§5). It is within the competence of the Bishops’ Conference to identify weather such circumstances exist and to give guidelines. The Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria “leaves the judgement of the existence of such grave or urgent need to the diocesan bishop.” It is, therefore, important that a catholic who finds himself/herself in places where he or she cannot access catholic ministers make inquiries about the guidelines of the diocesan bishop in whose territory he or she is.

    *Excetion two: Allowing Non-Catholic members of the Eastern Churches to receive from Catholic ministers*
    Can. 844§3. Catholic ministers administer the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick licitly to members of Eastern Churches which do not have full communion with the Catholic Church if they seek such on their own accord and are properly disposed. This is also valid for members of other Churches which in the judgment of the Apostolic See are in the same condition in regard to the sacraments as these Eastern Churches.

    *Exception three: In danger of death and a non-Catholic seeks these sacraments from a catholic minister*
    Can. 844§4. If the danger of death is present or if, in the judgment of the diocesan bishop or conference of bishops, some other grave necessity urges it, Catholic ministers administer these same sacraments licitly also to other Christians not having full communion with the Catholic Church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who seek such on their own accord, provided that they manifest Catholic faith in respect to these sacraments and are properly disposed.

    *NB: Not to be done on individual discretion*
    Can. 844§5. For the cases mentioned in §§2, 3, and 4, the diocesan bishop or conference of bishops is not to issue general norms except after consultation at least with the local competent authority of the interested non-Catholic Church or community.

    ▪Fr Samson Asadu

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