Ireland's second most senior Roman Catholic leader, Archbishop Desmond Connell, has ignited a controversy over inter-communion only days before going to Rome to be made a cardinal.

In an interview with the Sunday Business Post published on February 18, Connell, who is Archbishop of Dublin, complained about Catholics taking communion in Anglican churches. He said that by allowing Catholics to receive communion at its services, the (Anglican) Church of Ireland was not respecting the faith and obligations of Roman Catholics.

Stating Vatican policy on intercommunion, he explained: "For Catholics, when we receive holy communion, it is a statement that we are in full communion with those people with whom we are taking communion.

"But our communion with the Church of Ireland and other Protestants is incomplete because we do not have the same faith about, for example, the Eucharist."

His Anglican counterpart, Archbishop Walton Empey, of Dublin, expressed sadness that the joyful occasion of Archbishop Connell's elevation to the College of Cardinals was being marred by acrimony.

He told the RTE broadcasting network: "At times like this, I feel that Jesus is weeping and the Devil is doing a dance.

"When I go to a Roman Catholic church, I respect that tradition that we do not come forward for communion. But when we are in our own Church of Ireland churches, then I have to ask them to respect our position on that matter."

Valerie Jones, spokeswoman for Archbishop Empey, told ENI: "We are a small church - about 75,000 members - in mainly Roman Catholic Ireland, and we are very careful about how we word our invitation to take communion."

She explained that it was customary at every Church of Ireland service to invite all attenders to take communion "if their conscience allows it" and provided they were baptized Christians and communicant members of their own churches.

Archbishop Connell is no stranger to controversy on this issue. After Mary McAleese, the Irish president, took communion in an Anglican church in 1997, he said it was a "sham" for Catholics to take communion in a non-Catholic church.

Archbishop Connell's spokesman, Ronan Mullen, told ENI: "The archbishop sees his role as to speak out and teach the faith. He wants to be courteous towards other Christian churches, but also direct and honest."

The Anglican position was supported by Dublin's Independent newspaper, which argued in an editorial: "He [Archbishop Connell] has every right to lay down rules for the members of his flock. But he should not attempt to make other persuasions co-operate in imposing his rules."

The newspaper said it was puzzled by Archbishop Connell's remark that Catholics taking Protestant communion were harming the cause of ecumenism: "In reality, Catholics and Protestants who attend one another's services must be the most committed of Christians and the most eager for unity."

Related Elsewhere:

Other media coverage of the controversy includes:

New cardinal installed— BBC (Feb. 21, 2001)

Dr Connell insists he stands over commentsThe Irish Times(Feb. 20, 2001)

New cardinal in communion row— BBC (Feb. 19, 2001)

Christian Hurts ChristianThe Irish Times(Feb. 19, 2001)

Red hat will fit nicely on the controversial ConnellThe Times(Feb. 18, 2001)

Christianity Today's Catholicismarea has coverage of last year's Canadian Catholic/ Anglican communion controversy "Canada Meeting Gives New Hope for Unity Between Anglicans and Catholics| Churches come closer together, but not close enough to share Eucharist."

Dominus Iesusalso created a great deal of furor between Catholics and Protestants this past year. See CT's:

Poland's Catholic Bishops Reject Criticism of Dominus Iesus| Ratzinger's declaration that Protestant denominations are not proper churches is making waves in pope's birthplace.(Sept. 20, 2000)

Dominus Iesusa 'Public Relations Disaster' for Ecumenism, Say Critics| Vatican's statement reasserting itself as the one true church lamented inside and outside Catholicism.(Sept. 13, 2000)

Not All in the Family| Vatican official proclaims Protestant churches not "sister churches" to the Roman Catholic faith.(Sept. 6, 2000)