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«The Vision Before Us Compiled and Edited by Sarah Rowland Jones The Vision Before Us The Kyoto Report of the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on ...»

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The importance of Baptism as the sacramental sign of full incorporation into the Body of Christ is underlined in Resolutions 4.05 and 4.07 and the appended paper by Canon John Gibaut on ‘The Eucharistic Communion of the Non-Baptised’, written in response to concerns at instances in some parts of the Anglican Communion of inviting non-baptised persons, including members of non-Christian religious traditions, to receive Holy Communion.

This is an example of how variations of internal Anglican practice may raise significant questions from ecumenical partners about the integrity of the whole Communion - questions which are often not anticipated by those who adopt these practices.

Decision 18.01 (reaffirmed in 2002) and Resolution 5.08 respond with concern to proposals in the Diocese of Sydney to allow diaconal and/or lay presidency at the Eucharist. This would be a significant breach with the traditional teaching and practices of the Church Catholic. Chapter 5 on Holy Orders, particularly in the paper on ‘Holy Orders in Ecumenical Dialogue’, gives additional and detailed consideration of Anglican understanding of who may preside at the Holy Eucharist.

Part Two • Baptism and Eucharist

Finally, at its last meeting, IASCER offered to IASCUFO reflections and questions on what Anglicans might mean by ‘the Sacraments duly administered’ within ecumenical agreements. In particular IASCER invited the new commission to address the conditions for which Anglicans should be looking to enable them to make an agreement with an ecumenical partner for mutual recognition or ‘interim eucharistic sharing’ that falls short of communion or ‘full communion’ with an interchangeable ordained ministry.

The Principles of Canon Law Common to the Churches of the Anglican Communion is a helpful resource in addressing questions in these areas, in particular Principles 61-64 on Baptism, and Principles 66-69 on Holy Communion.


Resolution 3.08:

On the Baptismal Formula


• noting with appreciation the Responses of the Vatican dicastery, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, (1 February 2008) concerning certain questions on the formula of Baptism, affirms, in accordance with scripture (Matthew 28.19) and the Catholic tradition as embodied in the Lambeth Quadrilateral, that to be valid, Baptism must invariably be administered ‘in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’.

Admission to the Eucharist of the Non-Baptised

Resolution 4.05:

Admission of the Non-baptised to Holy Communion


1. notes with grave concern instances in some parts of the Anglican Communion of inviting non-baptised persons, including members of non-Christian religious traditions, to receive Holy Communion in Anglican celebrations of the Eucharist, and that this practice is contrary to Catholic order as reflected in the canonical discipline of our churches, and undermines ecumenical agreements and partnerships Part Two • Baptism and Eucharist

2. undertakes to study further the ecumenical consequences of communion of the unbaptised.

Resolution 4.07:

Admission of the Non-baptised to Holy Communion


1. affirms that Christian initiation leads us from incorporation into the Body of Christ through Baptism to full participation in the life of grace within the Church through Holy Communion

2. notes again with grave concern instances in some parts of the Anglican Communion of inviting non-baptised persons, including members of non-Christian religious traditions, to receive Holy Communion

3. reminds all Anglicans that this practice is contrary to Catholic order as reflected in principles of canon law common to all the Churches of the Anglican Communion

4. believes that the invitation to Holy Communion of non-baptised persons undermines ecumenical agreements on Baptism and the Eucharist, current policies of offering eucharistic hospitality to ‘Christians duly baptised in the name of the Holy Trinity and qualified to receive Holy Communion in their own Churches’ (as expressed in Resolution 45 of the Lambeth Conference 1968), and eucharistic sharing agreements between churches

5. believes that the communion of the non-baptised undermines the very goal and direction of the ecumenical movement, namely the reconciliation of all things in Christ of which the Eucharistic Communion of the baptised is sign, instrument and foretaste.

The Eucharistic Communion of the Non-baptised11 A Working Paper Prepared for IASCER, December 2007; revised January 2009 Introduction In parts of the Anglican Communion, the presumption of baptism as the sacramental requirement for admission to holy communion is presently being questioned, challenged, and rejected. Invitations to holy communion are extended to the non-baptised, who may be Christian believers, seekers, the curious, as well as practising members of other

Part Two • Baptism and Eucharist

faith communities. The issues around the communion of the nonbaptised are complex and inter-connected, dealing with questions of mission ecclesiology, Christian initiation and sacramental theology, canon law, liturgy, the formation of Christian identity, Christian hospitality, interreligious dialogue, and so on. The practice of admitting the non-baptised to holy communion—with its theological rationale— creates serious ecumenical challenges in the present, and calls into question the major ecumenical achievements of the past.

This reflection will locate the question of the admission of the nonbaptised to communion within two larger contexts: baptism as sequentially and integrally related to the eucharist, and the ecumenical context since the 20th century in which eucharistic hospitality has been extended to baptised members of other churches. The reflection then continues with an overview of the recent practice of inviting nonbaptised people to receive holy communion. It will consider the challenges to Anglican ecumenical engagement posed by the practice of admitting the non-baptised to holy communion.

A Historical Overview of Admission to Communion Questions about who may, and who may not, receive holy communion at the celebration of the eucharist have historically been asked in many different ways within Christianity in general, and within the Anglican Communion in particular. Early Christianity understood baptism and the eucharist as intimately and integrally linked together as sacraments of Christian initiation, the only repeatable element of which was the weekly reception of holy communion. Given this constitutive nexus between baptism and the eucharist, the idea of admitting to holy communion those not baptised would have been inconceivable in the early Church; in fact, the evidence from patristic liturgical sources indicates that the non-baptised members of the Christian community were not permitted to attend the eucharistic liturgy after the proclamation of the word, and did not join in the general intercessions, let alone receive holy communion. It is clear in Western Christianity that until the 12th century, infant baptism included the reception of the eucharist; once the chalice was removed from the laity at that time, the ancient connection between baptism and the eucharist as integral parts of the rite of initiation was severed, at least in the West. Reception of the eucharist at baptism remains part of the rites of initiation of Eastern Christianity. Late medieval Christianity questioned whether baptism was the sole sacramental requirement for the reception of holy communion, or, as in the case of the late 13th century English church, whether baptism and confirmation together constituted the sacramental requirement. Related questions were posed about the appropriate age for ‘first communion’, ranging from various proposals concerning an ‘age of discretion’ to the recovery of infant communion in

Part Two • Baptism and Eucharist

the early 15th century Bohemian reforms. The restriction of holy communion to those baptised and episcopally confirmed was enshrined in the English Prayer Book tradition from 1549 onwards. Some manoeuvring room was added in the 1662 Prayer Book with the inclusion of the words ‘or those desiring’ to be confirmed; by the mid 17th century, clearly not all Anglicans had access to bishops and confirmation, and were not to be deprived of holy communion.

Since the 1960s, some of the older questions have resurfaced, giving rise in some Anglican provincial churches to the practice of communion of all the baptised, including newly baptised infants, while others continue the practice of limiting admission to holy communion to those baptised and confirmed. A reflection of this at the level of the Anglican Communion is found in the documents of the International Anglican Liturgical Consultation (IALC). The findings of the 1991 meeting of

IALC, Walk in Newness of Life, propose the following:

10. Baptism is the sacramental sign of full incorporation into the body of Christ. Thus, all who are baptised should be welcomed into the eucharistic fellowship of the church. We affirm the statement, ‘Children and Communion’, of the 1985 Anglican Liturgical Consultation in Boston.

11. Communion of all the baptised represents a radical shift in Anglican practice and theology. Over the past two decades there has been an increasing acceptance of this practice in the Anglican Communion, although some provinces continue to require confirmation for admission to communion. We encourage provinces to reflect upon baptismal theology and eucharistic discipline and to implement the recommendations of the Boston Statement.

14. Unbaptised persons who through faith in Christ desire participation in the eucharistic fellowship should be encouraged to make their commitment to Christ in baptism, and so be incorporated within the one body which breaks the one bread.12 This striking restatement of the bond between baptism and eucharist in both Anglican sacramental theology and pastoral praxis both reflects and gives rise to an ecumenical perspective on the same, which from the 1960s has ushered in a level of eucharistic hospitality to baptised members of other churches to the churches of the Anglican Communion.

The Ecumenical Experience of Admission to Communion From the 19th century, new questions around admission to holy communion were posed from the emerging ecumenical movement. For example, may Christians from other churches, many of whom may not

Part Two • Baptism and Eucharist

have been (episcopally) confirmed, receive holy communion at Anglican celebrations of the Eucharist.13 Deeper questions around the restored eucharistic communion between the churches became the expressed goal of the ecumenical movement.

Until the mid-20th century, the possibilities of eucharistic hospitality were limited, and indeed, considered ‘irregular’. The 1920 Lambeth Conference cautiously dealt with a number of these issues. It

recommended that in projects of reunion the:

... bishops of the Anglican Communion will not question the action of any bishop who, in the few years between the initiation and the completion of a definite scheme of reunion, shall countenance the irregularity of admitting to Communion the baptised but unconfirmed communicants of the non-episcopal congregations concerned in the scheme.14 The 1930 Lambeth Conference added a pastoral reason for a further

broadening of eucharistic hospitality:

The Conference, maintaining as a general principle that intercommunion should be the goal of, rather than a means to, the restoration of union, and bearing in mind the general rule of the Anglican Churches that ‘members of the Anglican Churches should receive Holy Communion only from members of their own Church’, holds, nevertheless, that the administration of such a rule falls under the discretion of the bishop, who should exercise his dispensing powers in accordance with any principles that may be set forth by the national, regional or provincial authority of the Church in the area concerned. The bishops of the Anglican Communion will not question the action of any bishop who may, in his discretion so exercised, sanction an exception to the general rule in special areas, where the ministrations of an Anglican Church are not available for long periods of time or without travelling great distances, or may give permission that baptised communicant members of Churches not in communion with our own should be encouraged to communicate in Anglican churches, when the ministrations of their own Church are not available, or in other special or temporary circumstances.15 The resolution reflects the general principle within the Anglican Communion prior to 1968 that eucharistic communion is the goal rather than the means to Christian unity. This resolution, with the resolution noted from the 1920 conference, explicitly notes baptism as the sacramental requirement for admission to communion, affirming within the ecumenical context the sequential nexus between baptism and the eucharist.

Part Two • Baptism and Eucharist

From the 1960s, questions around eucharistic hospitality in its various gradations have been immensely complicated for Anglicans. An important benchmark in the development of policies around eucharistic hospitality is the resolutions of 1968 Lambeth Conference, which significantly opened new possibilities for the churches of the Anglican Communion. The most ardent and lengthy debate (six hours!) of the 1968 Lambeth Conference was around these questions on intercommunion.16 Resolutions 45 and 46 regarding Admission to Communion, together with Resolution 47 dealing with Reciprocal Acts of Intercommunion, mark a change of direction in Anglican policy regarding eucharistic sharing and hospitality, particularly on the possibility of eucharistic sharing with churches which do not have the historic episcopate, and hence what Anglicans would have understood as a validly conferred rite of confirmation. Once again, the nexus of baptism and the eucharist is central, forming the basis of an expanded eucharistic relationship with the members of other churches.

Resolution 45 states:

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