LEFEBVRE and the
1983 Code of Canon Law
844 (on Eucharistic Hospitality)106
canon is the most scandalous of the whole 1983 Code of Canon
Law. It is the open door to active communicatio
in sacris, i.e., active religious participation with
non-Catholics. Canon 1258 of the 1917 Code of Canon
Law very strictly prohibited such participation. Rev.
Fr. Dominicus M. Prümmer, O.P., a Swiss professor at the University
of Fribourg, gives the very simple reason: “It is indeed nothing
else than the negation of the Catholic Faith and the acknowledgment
of a heterodox worship.” Participation in the Sacraments
is the most important part of the worship, especially for Holy
Communion. Now Christ has founded and espoused only one
Church, and only the voice of the Bride is agreeable to the Bridegroom.
Only the voice of the Son is agreeable to the Father. The
active participation in non-Catholic worship is the practical
denial of the nature of the Church.
Catholic ministers may lawfully administer the sacraments only to
Catholic members of Christ’s faithful, who equally may lawfully
receive them only from Catholic ministers, except as provided in
§§2, 3, and 4 of this canon and in Canon 861, §2.
Whenever necessity requires or a genuine spiritual advantage commends
it, and provided the danger of error or indifferentism is avoided,
Christ’s faithful for whom it is physically or morally impossible
to approach a Catholic minister, may lawfully receive the Sacraments
of Penance, the Eucharist and Anointing of the Sick from non-catholic
ministers in whose churches these Sacraments are valid.
Catholic ministers may lawfully administer the Sacraments of Penance,
the Eucharist and Anointing of the Sick to members of the eastern
churches not in full communion with the Catholic Church, if they
spontaneously ask for them and are properly disposed. The
same applies to members of other churches which the Apostolic See
judges to be in the same position as the aforesaid eastern churches
so far as the Sacraments are concerned.
If there is a danger of death or if, in the judgment of the diocesan
bishop or of the episcopal conference, there is some other grave
and pressing need, Catholic ministers may lawfully administer these
same Sacraments to other Christians not in full communion with the
Catholic Church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community
and who spontaneously ask for them, provided that they demonstrate
the Catholic Faith in respect of these Sacraments and are properly
In respect of the cases dealt with in §§2, 3 and 4, the diocesan
bishop or the episcopal conference is not to issue general norms
except after consultation with the competent authority, at least
at the local level, of the non-Catholic church or community concerned.
only sacraments which the Church allows to be given by non-Catholic
ministers are those which are absolutely required for salvation,
that is, Baptism and Penance. In danger of death and in
the absence of a Catholic capable of baptizing, one should ask
for this Sacrament even from a non-Catholic. In danger
of death, a Catholic who has fallen into mortal sin after his
Baptism, in the absence of a Catholic priest, should ask even
a non-Catholic priest for the sacrament of Penance.
the sacraments not necessary for salvation, the Church never allowed
the faithful to go to a non-Catholic minister.
is particularly required for the sacrament of Holy Eucharist,
which is the Sacrament of the unity of the Church. To participate
in this Holy Sacrament with someone who does not belong to this
unity is to introduce “a lie” in the sacrament, depriving it of
its signification. One wonders what “genuine spiritual
advantage” can be obtained at such a price! Everyone can
see on the contrary the havoc wrought by these so-called “inter-celebrations.”
Catholic priest cannot give the Sacraments to a non-Catholic,
for he is outside the unity of the Church, with the sole exception
of the Sacraments of Penance or Baptism, given precisely that
he might become a Catholic.
condition put here: “provided that they demonstrate the Catholic
Faith in respect of these Sacraments and are properly disposed,”
does not render this Canon acceptable. Indeed, either one
requires in them the real Catholic Faith, therefore the repudiation
of their errors and their return to the Unity of the Church, and
thus there is no more need of such a Canon, or one requires only
that they agree with the Catholic Church on the one particular
point of Faith in question. But this latter alternative
is insufficient, since the Faith is not divisible, it is one theological
virtue. One cannot accept it on one point and reject it on another
The Code of Canon Law (London: Collins Liturgical Publishers,
Courtesy of the Angelus
Press, Regina Coeli House
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