Roman Catholic Bishop Louis E. Gelineau of Providence has issued ecumenical guidelines for his diocese that allow other Christians to receive certain Catholic sacraments including the eucharist, under specfic conditions.
The 14 page booklet, explaining existing Catholic Church legislation regarding the relationship of Catholic sacraments and religious rites to the practices of other major faiths, has been sent to Catholic clergy and to throughout the state.
According to Bishop Gelineau, the guidelines were published "in order to foster continued ecumenical develpment." The document covers baptism and eucharist, marriages between Catholics and those of another faith, the and anointing of the sick, and the rites of Christian burial as well as the practice of "covenanting" (establishing formal ties between two congregations of different denominations).
Explaining the guidelines on inter-communion, the Rev. Lionel A. Blain, chairman of the diocesan Commission on Ecumenism, said that Orthodox, Episcopal and Protestant Christians may receive Holy Communion at Catholic liturgies if they experience a serious spiritual need for the eucharist and ask for the sacrament of their own accord, if they have faith in the eucharist in accord with Roman Catholic teaching, and if they are unable for a prolonged period to have recourse to a minister of their own community.
According to Blain, the bishop's permission to administer communion is required in the cases of Episcopalians and Protestants, but priest can use their own discretion with regard to Orthodox Christians.
Asked if Catholics could receive communion at other liturgies, Blain replied that "Church law indicates that as a general rule Catholics are to receive holy communion only at Catholic liturgies."