Yesterday, we read of the possibility of intercommunion when an individual’s spiritual need suggests it. Let’s read a bit more under what circumstances this might happen:
46. In my Encyclical Ut Unum Sint I expressed my own appreciation of these norms, which make it possible to provide for the salvation of souls with proper discernment: “It is a source of joy to note that Catholic ministers are able, in certain particular cases, to administer the sacraments of the Eucharist, Penance and Anointing of the Sick to Christians who are not in full communion with the Catholic Church but who greatly desire to receive these sacraments, freely request them and manifest the faith which the Catholic Church professes with regard to these sacraments. Conversely, in specific cases and in particular circumstances, Catholics too can request these same sacraments from ministers of Churches in which these sacraments are valid”. (No. 46)
So the conditions: authentic need of an individual, a self-initiated request, adherence to Catholic sacramental understanding of Eucharist and Orders, sacramental validity.
These conditions, from which no dispensation can be given, must be carefully respected, even though they deal with specific individual cases, because the denial of one or more truths of the faith regarding these sacraments and, among these, the truth regarding the need of the ministerial priesthood for their validity, renders the person asking improperly disposed to legitimately receiving them. And the opposite is also true: Catholics may not receive communion in those communities which lack a valid sacrament of Orders. (Cf. Unitatis Redintegratio 22.)
A Roman Catholic could receive Communion in an Orthodox Church–that is where the strict line of interpretation is drawn.
The faithful observance of the body of norms established in this area (Code of Canon Law 844; Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches 671.) is a manifestation and, at the same time, a guarantee of our love for Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, for our brothers and sisters of different Christian confessions – who have a right to our witness to the truth – and for the cause itself of the promotion of unity.
And we finish this section with the assertion that obedience to these norms is tied with the cause of Christian unity. This completes Chapter Four, The Eucharist and Ecclesial Communion. Any final thoughts on the connection between the Eucharist and the degrees of unity and harmony within the Body of Christ?