Receiving Notable Personalities

Interesting chat at dotCommonweal about Cardinal Law receiving an Episcopal bishop, Jeffrey Steenson, into full Communion. Most of the commentary there centered on Law’s unworthiness as a scandal-touched figure to continue in the limelight. There’s that, yes, but I had other questions, too, as I commented on the site:

When a person is received into full communion, are they received by the individual as much as they are received into a particular community? Does the location have any significance at all? By that I wonder if by going to St Mary Major, is Bishop Steenson planning on serving that particular community? Or do we receive prelates and other public figures in a way distinctive from the average joe or jane?

Supposedly, Tony Blair is becoming a Catholic. Will he join in his wife’s parish church? Will he enter full Communion at some cathedral?

Individuals facilitate the joining into union with Rome. Even bishops. Would Cardinal Law not have been a better choice for sponsor rather than presider, given his close relationship with Steenson? And if bishops demur from being sponsors, what does that say about the status of that vital ministry in their eyes?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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2 Responses to Receiving Notable Personalities

  1. Jason says:

    The location and the person receiving the candidate may have symbolic value, if someone wants to send a message (as in, it’s a big deal for an Episcopal bishop to cross the Tiber), but I can’t imagine it means anything more than that.

    As for Tony Blair, the rumours are that he’ll be received in the Cardinal’s private chapel.

  2. Rob F. says:

    The candidates are received into the entire Church of Christ, not just into the local branch. So I don’t see the issue of location to be of any deep importance, just of convenience. At our parish, we routinely have people in our RCIA program who are received at other parishes which are out-of-state. This is because they are away visiting family at Easter-time and can’t make it back to our parish.

    Since Law is rector of the Liberian basilica, and Steenson is a friend of his, I suspect that the choice of the basilica is a matter of convenience for the two of them. Similar issues probably govern Blair’s reception. I don’t think there is anything highly symbolic about any of this. I suspect it is only a reflection of the fact that a big-shot is more likely to be friends with a cardinal than your typical Joe is, which is only natural.

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