Receiving the Sacraments from Orthodox priests
Question from on 07-31-2007:
I know most Eastern Orthodox jurisdictions do not allow Catholics to receive the sacraments, but in the past I have received them in the Ukrainian, Armenian and Syriac Orthodox jurisdictions.
I am wondering canonically if I committed a sin by having done so on three separate occasions, once in each jurisdiction.
When canon law says Catholics can receive the sacraments from schismatic clergy when it is either morally or physically impossible to receive them from Catholic clergy, what does that mean? What would be some examples of when that canonical provision might apply?
Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 07-31-2007:
The full text of the relevant canon is: "Whenever necessity requires it or true spiritual advantage suggests it, and provided that danger of error or of indifferentism is avoided, the Christian (Catholic) faithful for whom it is physically for morally impossible to approach a Catholic minister are permitted to receive the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick from non-Catholic ministers in whose Churches these sacraments are valid" (canon 844, §2). If you read the canon carefully, there are also requirements that error and indifferentism (i.e., that all religions are the same) are avoided.