Q : 
I was invited to my friend’s baptismal celebration at an Anglican Church in Hong Kong (St. John’s Cathedral). Is it a mass? Can I receive the Holy Communion?
【 Question from 】 Hong Kong 香港

Fr. Francis : 

The Anglican Church, depending on the particular congregation, is often categorized into High Anglican Church and Low Anglican Church. The Low Anglican Church refers to those congregations that are more similar to the mainstream Protestant denominations, who do not believe in the Real Presence of the Eucharist and their Sunday liturgy is more akin to a Protestant service. The High Anglican Church refers to those congregations whose beliefs, sacraments and liturgy are still faithful to the original Catholic traditions.

So, if you are going to the Anglican cathedral, chances are it is high Anglican. Their mass will look very similar to that of the Catholic Church, and they may even have a tabernacle. Many in the High Anglican tradition also believe in the Real Presence of the Eucharist. In all appearance, they would seem the same as the Catholic Church.

However, there are a number of significant differences. As a result, Catholics are not able to receive their Holy Communion:

  • Anglicans themselves have admitted that during the English persecution, a number of bishops were appointed without proper succession. As a result, to this day, it is impossible to ascertain if all the current bishops have apostolic succession. This means they do not have a valid priesthood to perform the sacraments.
  • This also means that their Eucharist is not valid.
  • Even if they have a valid priesthood and Eucharist, inter-communion also signifies that we believe in all things in common. With the recent decision of the Anglican Church to espouse women and homosexual clergy, the ecumenical dialogue for future inter-communion between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Church has been made very difficult. We cannot receive their communion because we cannot be in communion with these ideas which are clearly not what Jesus taught.

But, while we are not able to have full communion today, there is still a lot of commonality between us, especially in the work of social justice, crisis and poverty relief, and proclaiming the core gospel message.

Let us pray for Christian unity.