Protestants and Communion

Q. How is it best to explain to a Protestant why he can’t receive communion in the Catholic Church?

Karen, via email

A.Here’s a reply from TCA columnist Father Ray Ryland, Ph.D., J.D:

First of all, make it plain that this restriction does not mean the Church is passing judgment on non-Catholics. Rather, the rule reflects what the Church teaches about receiving Communion at a Catholic altar.

In receiving Communion, a Catholic implicitly and publicly affirms his or her solidarity with the Church and her teaching. Tragically, there remain serious doctrinal divisions between the Church and all non-Catholic traditions. It would be dishonest of a Protestant to come to a Catholic altar, therefore, because he or she does not hold to the Church’s teaching.

By the same token, it would be dishonest of a Catholic to receive communion in a non-Catholic Church. He or she would thereby publicly state his or her oneness with that particular denomination, which would be untrue.