Can Protestants Receive the Eucharist?

By pintswaquinas June 4, 2024

Many Catholics have relatives, friends, and maybe even a spouse or kids, who are Protestant. And while there is often one or more staunch anti-Catholic in the mix, many Protestants consider Catholics fellow Christians and have no qualms about attending Mass for weddings, baptisms, or funerals.

This can lead to awkward situations if a Protestant attendee at a Catholic Mass goes up to receive Holy Communion. Does the Church allow this? Most Protestants don’t believe the Eucharist is really Christ’s Body and Blood.

What should a Catholic do in such a scenario? Let’s examine the issue.

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Why Protestants can’t receive Communion at a Catholic Church
First, note that there are exceptional circumstances wherein a bishop may give permission for a Protestant to receive our Lord. But such situations are rare.

The main reason why Protestants can’t receive our Jesus’ Body and Blood is because it would amount to a public lie. When the priest presents us with the Eucharist, we respond, “Amen.” This affirms our belief that what we are to receive is the actual Body and Blood of Christ.

Most Protestants think that the Eucharist is either a symbol of Christ or that it contains His spiritual — not physical — presence.

The Church doesn’t withhold the Eucharist from our non-Catholic Christian brothers and sisters out of spite. It’s saving them from publicly declaring a belief they don’t hold.

What to do if you’re worried about Protestant family and friends receiving
Some Protestants may approach the altar in good faith. If you think the people in your party may go up, talk to them beforehand and explain the Church’s rules. Or ask the priest or the announcer to give a general statement at the beginning of Mass, saying only Catholics who fulfill the Church’s requirements can receive our Lord.

Charity sometimes requires us to do hard things for the greater good. You may offend people by sticking to the Church’s teaching. But, ultimately, we are on this earth to please God, not our fellow human beings.

Christ taught that sometimes we must put even our family aside to follow Him. It’s not what we want, but following our Lord is ALWAYS worth it in the end.


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