An analysis of new trends in Eucharistic theology within the Church of Rome

A few years ago the suggestion that Roman Catholic and Protestant clergy might one day have intercommunion would have been thought preposterous by both sides. Today it is not. During the last few years, some developments in the Roman Catholic Church, particularly studies on the Lord’s Supper and on relations with Protestants, have brought about changes in theory and practice that lead one to ask: What next?

As recently as four years ago Roman Catholics were forbidden by canon law to worship with non-Catholics: “By no means is it permitted for the faithful to assist actively in any way whatsoever or to participate in non-Catholic worship” (Codex Juris Canonici, 1258). But the Second Vatican Council gave guarded encouragement to certain forms of common worship:

In certain circumstances, such as in prayer services “for unity” and during ecumenical gatherings, it is allowable, indeed desirable, that Catholics should join with their separated brethren. Such prayers in common are certainly a very effective means of petitioning for the grace of unity, and they are a genuine expression of the ties which even now bind Catholics to their separated brethren. “For where two or three are gathered together for My sake, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt. 18:20). As for common worship, however, it may not be regarded as a means to be used indiscriminately for the restoration of unity among Christians. Such worship depends chiefly on two principles: it should signify the unity of the Church; it should provide a sharing of the means of grace. The fact that it should signify unity generally rules out common worship. Yet the gaining of a needed grace sometimes commends ...
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