.- The issue of intercommunion has been one of ongoing discussion throughout the course thus far of the General Synod of Bishops, being held currently at the Vatican. While some have suggested that those outside the Catholic Church be permitted to receive the Eucharist in certain situations, others have held closer to the Church's long held teaching that allowing non-Catholics to receive would suggest a unity which is not yet present.
Bishop Amedee Grab O.S.B., of Chur, Switzerland, noted that in ecumenical dialogue with Christian churches who celebrate the memorial of the Lord's Supper, "one can often see an increasing convergence on very important themes: real presence, sacrificial characteristic of the memorial, need for ordination."
"What has proved more difficult", he said, "is finding a formulation on the nature of the Church, and an agreement that the Holy Eucharist - source and summit of her vocation and her mission - was entrusted to Her."
Bishop Grab cited the Ecumenical Directory, saying that "participation in Holy Communion by individual non-Catholic baptized, in exceptional cases and under certain conditions, is specifically provided for..." The Directory, he said, "not only mentions admittance but also invitation, following verification of the aforementioned conditions, among which belonging to the Catholic Church is not mentioned."
"This possibility", he said, "should not be forgotten and must be taken into account in pastors' dealings with those who, without belonging to the Catholic Church, share the impassioned prayer of Jesus for unity. This should remain a recognized way to achieve unity, when and how the Lord, 'the living bread descending from heaven for the life of the world,' wishes."
In response, Cardinal Georges Cottier O.P., who is a Theologian of the Pontifical Household, said however, that "If the Church has pronounced directives concerning the admission to the Eucharist of non-Catholic Christians and if she rejects inter-communion, this is because Eucharistic communion is not a starting point, rather it expresses and perfects a communion to be considered in its entirety: communion in the doctrine of the Apostles, in the Sacraments and in communion with the apostolic college of which Peter is head."
"This position", he said, "seems unjustly hard to our Protestant brothers, because it is not understood. In fact, it is a fraternal duty for the Church to make it clear that she cannot dispose at her will of a gift received from her Lord. Her attitude is one of adoration, of praise and of obedience."