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Doesn’t being Catholic mean that one should accept the Church’s teachings without publicly disagreeing?

Full Question

On television I heard a woman state that she believes women should be priests, and that she was upset when she read the latest encyclical Pope John Paul issued about how Catholics cannot receive communion in a non-Catholic church. As a revert Catholic, I thought when you become Catholic you accept the Church’s teachings without open disagreement. Am I alone in this thinking?


Your thinking is correct, and you are certainly not alone, although you may not often see other non-dissenting Catholics on mainstream television.

Regarding the issues the woman mentioned, John Paul II definitively ruled out the possibility that the Church had the authority to ordain women in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. However much this lady might hope for the ordination of women, it won’t happen because the Church can’t ordain women. Men are the valid “matter” for the sacrament of holy orders, just as surely as water is for baptism and wine for the precious blood.

As for receiving communion in a Protestant church, Catholics believe that the Eucharist is a sign of unity. This is one of the reasons that Protestants can’t ordinarily receive Communion in Catholic churches. The same holds true in the opposite direction: For a Catholic to receive Protestant communion would not only give the impression that the Protestant version is valid, but it would also create a false sense of unity.

Beyond that, when you realize that non-Catholic churches don’t have a valid Eucharist, you have to wonder why any Catholic would want to receive communion in Protestant churches. Perhaps what this woman really lacks is an adequate appreciation of what we as Catholics have in the Blessed Sacrament.



  1. Akah Reply

    Good day sir. Your answer to the above question is very explicit. But i want to differ with you a bit in the regards. The Body of Christ which is the Church which also is the Christian community ought to be united. I see Denominational segregation in your answer. If one can’t take communion from a different church( denomination) doesn’t that show any disunity in the Body of Christ which is the whole of Christian community? Or are you telling us that only Catholics or Only protestants will be in Heaven? I think communion is the body of Christ and food for the soul which when rightly served like every other good biblical teaching, every Christian should have the privilege to partake in it no matter their denomination.

    1. Alex Reply

      Akah, although Catholics wish for unity among all Christians, there is still the matter of the fact that we as Catholics do not believe that Protestants have the FULLNESS of faith (not that they do not have faith, however, that they are lacking in certain elements which would bring them into full unity with the true Church). While certain sacraments they have are valid (such as baptism), since they do not require under all circumstances for a priest to perform them, they lack valid holy orders (since a bishop is needed for that), and also valid communion (since a properly ordained priest is needed for that). In short, in any case where the minister of the sacrament must act in persona Christi, Protestants don’t have a valid sacrament, because there are no truly ordained priests.

      Also, no, for the safety of souls, one shouldn’t receive the Eucharist unless one is in good conscience and also truly discerns it as the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ our Lord, as per 1 Corinthians 11:27.

      This does not mean that there are no Protestants in Heaven, since, to the best of their knowledge and ability, many have served God faithfully.

    2. Pat Reply

      @Akah THERE IS absolutely nothing wrong with the answer just provided. and let us be honest christendom is not united. we have various perceptions of what it is to be christian and what Christ expects of us.

      So great is the division amongst us that we do not even agree who God is. some denominations claim the Holy Spirit is a mere “force”, that is outright Blasphemy; some others teach that christ is not Consubstancial/ Equal/ infinite with the father. very many see holy communion as merely symbolic, others calm baptism isn’t even necessary, all these and lots more are core tenets of Christian faith, and as such lets not deceive ourselves, christendom is not united, we should work towards united and not pretend to show a unity that does not exist.

      Very importantly, the holy Eucharist for catholics is not an ecumenical instrument or an ecumenical balance diet (where all that claims to proffers christ just come and have a share in bread and wine), it is the body of jesus christ and the food of the soul for those who believe every thing he taught through his church, not those who refuse to recognise his eternal sonship, nor those who insult the holy spirit, the Lord the giver of life by relegating him to a mere force.

      And please as a side note, the catholic church admits protestants to the Eucharist under certain circumstances:
      1. when it is at an instance of dying protestant,
      2. when the person requests for it on his own accord,
      3. when the person can not find a minister of his own denomination near,
      4. when the person will be put in great difficulty if he does not
      5. when the person is in a state of grace
      6. VERY IMPORTANTLY, the person believes it is the body and blood of christ.
      only under these conditions does the church administer the holy eucharist to non catholics.

      in summary, Non-catholics are not allowed to receive the body of christ at the catholic eucharistic table, and we refuse to profane the body of christ by administering it to anyone who regards the words of our lord as a mere metaphor, or relegates the body and blood of out lord as a mere bread and wine as if to say Christ did not know what he was saying when he said ” take this all of you and eat of it, THS IS MY BODY…” ; “take this all of you and drink of it, THIS IS MY BLOOD….”; or that the apostles were crazy when they reaffirmed the word of jesus christ.

    3. Silvano Reply

      Akah, the Body of Christ is made of souls, who are united with Jesus first and utmost through baptism. Secondly, they are in the Body of Christ only when in the state of Grace, that is without mortal sin. Once a person committs a mortal sin, although a Christian, he/she goes out of the Body of Christ, because Christ is Holy, and cannot live with sin, His Body cannot have a stain of sin. To get back in the Body of Christ, one has to repent and ask for forgiveness, which is given through the sacrament of confession. Once a person has received absolution from his/her sins, he/she returns into the Body of Christ. So, as you can easily understand, Catholics do not buy your statement that the Body of Christ is the whole Christian Community at large. No. The Protestant do no understand the Body of Christ, they have also problems in accepting the difference of sins, mortal and venial, they also do not believe in Confession, in the Sacraments, in repenting each time one committs sins. They believe that when you die, you go out of the Body of Christ, as if death is a mortal sin, because they do not believe in saints, or in the poor souls of Purgatory, or life after death. They are so far out of the true teaching of Christ, that I do wonder how they can call themselves Christians. Read the Gospel of Saint Luke 10:16 and you see clip and clear the implication of being a protestant. Wow……

  2. Silvano Reply

    Akah, you missed the point. Us Catholics go and receive Holy Communion not as a liturgical act, like saying a prayer in a certain way. No. Taking the Holy Host into your mouth is a real feed of the real flesh and blood of Jesus Christ for our souls. The living cells of the flesh and blood of Christ, which are in the holy host, mingle with our cells once we eat and digest them (the cells), and we become one body with and in Christ. That is the unity that we are talking about. The protestants see the Communion as a “remembering” gesture only, a pure liturgical function, not a feed for the soul. So, in itself, taht is useless for the Catholics. If we go there and take part in that, is “dancing in two weddings” as we say. You cannot do that. It is an adultery in Faith, because you go and oblige a false teaching and the thereto false practice. God, so I see it, took away from all those people who decided to go astray from His Church, the Catholic Church, His gift of the Eucharist: the feed for the soul, and rightly so. No protestant church has the eucharist, as they do not believe in it.

  3. Denis Khan Reply

    Where two or three are gathered in My Name, There I Am. (Matthew18:20).
    The Catholic Religion is a revealed religion. The Church is a dogmatic and doctrinal church.
    The Catholic Holy Eucharist is the Consecrated Real Body of Christ. The Church requires the communicant to receive Sacramental Baptism, Penance/Reconciliation, before Holy Communion.
    Protestants receive the Symbolic Body of Christ. In a wedding reception, the bridal couple is toasted with champagne or coca cola, the joy is the same.
    In the New American Bible (Catholic), in (Matthew 16:18 -19), it is explained that the ‘keys to the kingdom’ is an indication, not an identity of the Church and the Kingdom of Heaven.
    Jesus Christ Did not Die for Religion. He Died to save the world.

  4. Patrick Gannon Reply

    Ah, ritual cannibalism. LOL.
    What a depressing thread. Christianity is the religion of separation, and hostility to the other; and little says it better than what has been expressed here.

    1. marie a mcmasters Reply

      Patrick.. thats just what the other disciples said to Jesus… think about that.

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