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COMMENTS BY BISHOP MICHAEL MALONE ON
REAL YET IMPERFECT-
NORMS ON SACRAMENTAL SHARING IN MAITLAND-NEWCASTLE

11th International Conference
Newcastle, NSW, Australia
18-21 August 2005

In Response to the Directory for the Application and principles and Norms of Ecumenism the Diocese of M-N produced in 2001 a set of norms for pastoral guidelines or sacramental sharing.

Based on a variety of documents form both local Dioceses in Australia and overseas, our guidelines are contained in two books- the unabridged and abridged versions.

In the context of Interchurch Families, most interest is in sacramental sharing. Our guidelines preface this issue by emphasising

  • Mutual prayer
  • Attending liturgical services
  • Showing friendship and interest
  • Trying to understand how other Christians express themselves in worship.

The ultimate result for Christians is in the Eucharistic sharing, although sacraments of baptism, penance and anointing of the sick are quite important too.

Our norms follow those of the Directory but we add one or two things which the Vatican was happy to approve.

  • There should be no explicit prohibition or invitation issued at a liturgy where other Christians are present and the Eucharist is celebrated
  • Grave spiritual need may prompt another Christian to receive the Eucharist
  • The norms are meant to help, not hinder, unity
  • Interchurch couples who regularly attend Mass in the Catholic Church may seek permission to regularly receive the Eucharist.

My Reading of the Rome Document would support our norms and the pastoral sensitivity required when dealing with this special ecumenical situation.

Since Interchurch spouses actually live and experience each others tradition there is need for a generosity of spirit not only by the couple, but also from the traditions of each. I think our norms are generous enough to reflect that requirement by Interchurch spouses.