Why Can't Non-Catholics Receive Communion? — St. Mary's Catholic Center (2023)

Why Can't Non-Catholics Receive Communion? — St. Mary's Catholic Center (1)

Q - Why can't non-Catholics receive Holy Communion? What if they say that they believe that it is the Body and Blood of Jesus like we do? What should we say to them?

- Thanks for the question. There are several reasons that non-Catholics cannot receive Communion in the Catholic Church. But, first we must deal with some myths about this topic. It isn't a judgment about anyone's salvation nor is it about how sincere someone may believe in Christ.

Here is what the Catholic Church teaches about The Eucharist and why it is so important. From John 6:53-56.

"So Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him."

This is the first teaching of Christ on the Eucharist. He clearly states (again and again in John 6) that the Eucharist is not just a symbol of his Body and Blood, but truly becomes his body and blood. Otherwise it would make no sense for his followers to understand him literally (John 6:41 & 6:52) and then walk away from him (John 6:66) without Jesus clearly explaining that he was speaking figuratively.

Then we have the last supper accounts in Matthew, Mark and Luke. Here Christ clearly teaches that the bread and wine are transformed into his body and blood ("this IS my body" & "this IS my blood"). Taken along with Paul's admonition in 1 Corinthians 11:27-30:

(Video) Why Can't Protestants Receive Catholic Communion?

"Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill and some have died."

It all adds up. The Catholic Church has consistently taught, through 2,000 years, that Christ is truly present - body, blood, soul, and divinity - in the Eucharist. For more on the Church's teaching on the Eucharist, read a previous post here.

Therefore, to receive him in Communion is an outward statement of our unity of faith. It says, in the action of the congregation, that we are united (communing together) to one another in believing in all the Catholic church believes, teaches, and confesses. Those who are not Catholic cannot make such a statement, because they are not fully in communion with us. So, for a non-Catholic to receive Communion is a counter-sign to the truth. It says outwardly "we are one", when we are not. It would be a lie, spoken through actions.

To receive the Eucharist does not only mean we believe in it, but in all that the Catholic Church holds to be true. It says with the body "I am Catholic and hold all that the Church teaches to be true as truth and I therefore unite myself to Jesus and all his Catholic Church, through the bonds made in the Eucharist."

A non-Catholic should be told exactly what we believe. Most do not share our belief in the Eucharist. If they don't, then they probably won't want to receive if explained as I did above. But, what if a non-Catholic says they share a belief in the Eucharist? I suggest you invite them to join us at Communion - but only after they enter the Church through Confirmation (and baptism if necessary). If one truly believes in the Eucharist, then the only place to receive it is in the Catholic Church or the Eastern Orthodox Churches. Why wouldn't you join if you truly believe we have the Eucharist?

Furthermore, the Church limits communion to Catholics out of concern for their spiritual well-being. Paul tells us why in the 1 Cor. verse quoted above. To receive without discerning the body and blood, is to receive condemnation. This would put someone in spiritual danger and we do not want that for another!

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The ancient Christians held to the same belief we do now. Here are a few examples:

"Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God....They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes" - Ignatius of Antioch, circa 110 AD.

"We call this food Eucharist, and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration and is thereby living as Christ enjoined. For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nurtured, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus" Justin Martyr, circa 151 AD

Lastly, the Church has no right to change the clear teaching of Christ. We must always be faithful to his teaching, even when others are offended (even when we are not trying to offend, sometimes it happens). We are not trying to be exclusive, but honest and faithful to Christ.

Remember this, not all Catholics can receive Communion, but only those in full communion with the Church and those in the state of grace (no un-confessedmortal sins).

Here is the US Bishops statement on the issue that you can find on the back of most missalettes.

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For Catholics
As Catholics, we fully participate in the celebration of the Eucharist when we receive Holy Communion. We are encouraged to receive Communion devoutly and frequently. In order to be properly disposed to receive Communion, participants should not be conscious of grave sin and normally should have fasted for one hour. A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord without prior sacramental confession except for a grave reason where there is no opportunity for confession. In this case, the person is to be mindful of the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition, including the intention of confessing as soon as possible (canon 916). A frequent reception of the Sacrament of Penance is encouraged for all.

For our fellow Christians
We welcome our fellow Christians to this celebration of the Eucharist as our brothers and sisters. We pray that our common baptism and the action of the Holy Spirit in this Eucharist will draw us closer to one another and begin to dispel the sad divisions which separate us. We pray that these will lessen and finally disappear, in keeping with Christ's prayer for us "that they may all be one" (Jn 17:21).

Because Catholics believe that the celebration of the Eucharist is a sign of the reality of the oneness of faith, life, and worship, members of those churches with whom we are not yet fully united are ordinarily not admitted to Holy Communion. Eucharistic sharing in exceptional circumstances by other Christians requires permission according to the directives of the diocesan bishop and the provisions of canon law (canon 844 § 4). Members of the Orthodox Churches, the Assyrian Church of the East, and the Polish National Catholic Church are urged to respect the discipline of their own Churches. According to Roman Catholic discipline, the Code of Canon Law does not object to the reception of communion by Christians of these Churches (canon 844 § 3).

For those not receiving Holy Communion
All who are not receiving Holy Communion are encouraged to express in their hearts a prayerful desire for unity with the Lord Jesus and with one another.

For non-Christians
We also welcome to this celebration those who do not share our faith in Jesus Christ. While we cannot admit them to Holy Communion, we ask them to offer their prayers for the peace and the unity of the human family.

I hope this helps.

(Video) Why Do Children Receive First Communion Before Confirmation?

(Video) 3. Why can't non-Catholics receive Communion?


Why can't a non Catholic take communion in a Catholic church? ›

Because protestant churches deliberately broke the apostolic succession of their ministers, they lost the sacrament of Holy Orders, and their ministers cannot in fact change the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ.

Are non-Catholics allowed to take communion in a Catholic church? ›

People of all faiths are welcome to attend Mass in a Catholic Church. Non-Catholics are welcome to be present for the celebration, but only Catholics in a state of grace are able to receive Holy Communion during Mass.

Can a Catholic marry a non Catholic and still receive communion? ›

Because of the inability of non-Catholic Christians to receive Communion, Catholics who are marrying a non-Catholic are usually encouraged not to have a Mass as part of their nuptial liturgy.

Who are excluded in the communion of saints? ›

The damned are thus excluded from the communion of saints. The living, even if they do not belong to the body of the true Church, share in it according to the measure of their union with Christ and with the soul of the Church.

Who Cannot receive communion in the Catholic Church? ›

Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.

Can Catholic attend Protestant worship service? ›

Response: A Catholic may attend and participate in common prayer at services in Protestant churches. Catholics are encouraged to pray and sing, and they may read or preach, but a Catholic may not receive “communion” if this is part of the service.

What to do during communion if not Catholic? ›

Non-Catholics and those of us “raised” Catholic should abstain from taking Communion as a sign of respect. You can remain seated as others leave their pews and line up, or, if you accidentally find yourself following the herd to the altar, simply cross your hands over your heart.

Can non members take communion? ›

Open communion is the practice of some Protestant Churches of allowing members and non-members to receive the Eucharist (also called Holy Communion or the Lord's Supper).

Can you go to Mass and not receive communion? ›

First of all, it means that a Catholic can certainly attend Mass without receiving Communion. (So, contrary to part of your question, yes, it certainly is the Mass, even if one does not receive Communion.)

Can Catholics get vasectomies? ›

Does the church also object to coverage for vasectomy procedures for men? The Catholic Church's position is that it's against all birth control that it deems as artificial. That includes the birth control pill and condoms, and medical procedures such as vasectomy and sterilization.

Can Catholics use condoms? ›

Catholic views on condoms. The Catholic Church's opposition to contraception includes a prohibition on condoms. It believes that chastity should be the primary means of preventing the transmission of AIDS.

What happens if a Catholic marries a non Catholic? ›

Sacramental Marriage: If a Catholic marries a baptized person who is not Catholic—such as an Episcopalian, Presbyterian, or Baptist—the wedding is a sacrament. Non-Sacramental Marriage: If a Catholic marries a person who is not baptized—such as a Hindu, Jew, or Muslim—the wedding is not a sacrament.

Which church denominations does not practice Holy Communion? ›

Among the modern descendants of the Anabaptists, the Amish, Old Order Mennonites and Conservative Mennonites all practice what they term close communion, restricting communion to members of a local congregation only.

Which church does not believe in Holy Communion? ›

Christians adhering to the theology of Memorialism, such as the Anabaptist Churches, do not believe in the concept of the real presence, believing that the Eucharist is only a ceremonial remembrance or memorial of the death of Christ.

Do Baptists believe in the communion of saints? ›

Baptists “honor Mary as the mother of Jesus Christ” but consider the “communion of saints as primarily a present reality among Christians,” and don't pray to Mary or “deceased Christians lest such infringe the sole mediatorship of Jesus Christ.”

What are the 3 requirements for receiving Holy Communion? ›

WHAT IS NECESSARY FOR MY CHILD TO RECEIVE FIRST HOLY COMMUNION? At a minimum, your child must: Be baptized in the Catholic Church, or another Christian denomination recognized by the Catholic Church. They must have been baptized with water and “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

Can a Lutheran receive Communion in a Catholic church? ›

Catholics believe these become the body and blood of Christ; some Protestants, notably Lutherans, say Christ is present in the sacrament. Protestants are currently allowed to receive Catholic communion only in extreme circumstances, such as when they are in danger of death.

What are the Catholic rules for Communion? ›

There are clear guidelines on receiving Holy Communion. Each Communicant should refrain from eating or drinking anything (except for water) for one hour prior to receiving the Eucharist, although exceptions are made for those who are sick and for the elderly. Also, each Communicant must be free of mortal sin.

Can Catholics take communion at Protestant church? ›

No, a Catholic should not receive communion in a Protestant church. Catholics believe that Jesus' Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity is present in the Eucharist during our Communion and that it is not just a mere symbol.

Can a Catholic go to a non Catholic funeral? ›

Yes, a Catholic may attend a funeral in a non-Catholic faith community. However, a Catholic should be careful not to actually partake in any ritual that is contrary to our Faith or receive communion in a non-Catholic worship service.

Can a non Catholic attend a Catholic Mass? ›

As Catholics, we joyfully welcome people of all faiths and backgrounds to attend the liturgy and participate in worship, however there are a few guidelines that might be helpful for a visitor to be coscious of.

Can non Catholics receive blessing at Mass? ›

The short answer is yes. The deacon may impart most of the same blessings as a priest and uses the same liturgical gestures. If a priest is present however, he should defer to him.

Can you chew gum in Catholic Church? ›

Nota bene: Now that the danger to the health of bishops who forbid chocolate at Mass has passed, chocolate does break the Communion fast (canon 919, Code of Canon Law). Gum, being neither a food or drink but a substance intended for chewing and then discarding (like tobacco), does not break the Communion fast.

What to do when you Cannot receive Communion? ›


Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You.

What is a mortal sin in the Catholic Church? ›

A mortal sin is defined as a grave action that is committed in full knowledge of its gravity and with the full consent of the sinner's will. Such a sin cuts the sinner off from God's sanctifying grace until it is repented, usually in confession with a priest.

Can non members take the sacrament? ›

As you know, the bread and water of the sacrament are meant for Church members so we can renew our baptismal covenants. However, we should not do anything during sacrament meeting to prevent nonmembers from partaking of the sacrament.

Is it a mortal sin to miss Mass? ›

It is still considered a mortal sin to miss Mass on a day of obligation without a good reason. The church has always believed that this obligation stems from the Ten Commandments given to Moses, one of which was to “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”

Does virtual Mass fulfill Sunday obligation? ›

As a general rule, Catholics are obliged to attend Mass each Sunday. This is in fulfillment of the Second Commandment. Simply watching Mass on TV does not fulfill the obligation.

Can a Catholic receive Communion outside of Mass? ›

Communion may be given outside Mass on any day and at any hour. It is proper, however, to determine the hours for giving communion, with a view to the convenience of the faithful, so that the celebration may take place in a fuller form and with greater spiritual benefit.”

Can you have a Catholic funeral Mass without Communion? ›

People of all faiths are welcome to participate in and witness a funeral Mass. The only limitation is communion, as they can't consume the consecrated bread and wine (or wafers and grape juice, depending on your church).

Can anyone take Communion at a Catholic church? ›

The Catholic Church has a variety of rules and guidelines about who can receive Communion. For example, only baptized Catholics are eligible to receive Communion.

Can Catholics take Communion from other religions? ›

A - Thanks for the question. No, a Catholic should not receive communion in a Protestant church. Catholics believe that Jesus' Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity is present in the Eucharist during our Communion and that it is not just a mere symbol.

What do you do at Communion if you are not Catholic? ›

Non-Catholics and those of us “raised” Catholic should abstain from taking Communion as a sign of respect. You can remain seated as others leave their pews and line up, or, if you accidentally find yourself following the herd to the altar, simply cross your hands over your heart.

Why should a Catholic not participate in a Protestant Communion service? ›

Receiving communion in a Protestant church is never permitted for a Catholic, because these communities “have not preserved the proper reality of the Eucharistic mystery in its fullness, especially because of the absence of the sacrament of Holy Orders” (par. 1400).

What to do if you can't receive communion? ›


Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You.

Can a Roman Catholic receive communion in a Polish National Catholic Church? ›

Baptism and Confirmation are sacraments which initiate and deepen a person's membership in the Church. To receive them in the PNCC therefore makes one a member of the PNCC. Ordinarily, a Roman Catholic should not receive communion in the PNCC.

Do I have to be Catholic to go to confession? ›

So while a non-Catholic can go to Confession and will hopefully find healing and mercy in their conversation with the priest, they cannot receive the sacramental graces that come from Reconciliation. “In danger of death or in a serious situation one could give a non-Catholic absolution,” Father Simon said.

What type of sin is forgiven by receiving the Eucharist? ›

21:27). Receiving Christ in the Eucharist forgives venial sins. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, “As bodily nourishment restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens our charity, which tends to be weakened in daily life; and this living charity wipes away venial sins” (CCC 1394).

Can you go to Mass and not receive Communion? ›

First of all, it means that a Catholic can certainly attend Mass without receiving Communion. (So, contrary to part of your question, yes, it certainly is the Mass, even if one does not receive Communion.)

Can a Protestant marry a Catholic? ›

The Catholic Church recognizes as sacramental, (1) the marriages between two baptized non-Catholic Christians or between two baptized Orthodox Christians, as well as (2) marriages between baptized non-Catholic Christians and Catholic Christians, although in the latter case, consent from the diocesan bishop must be ...

Can you be Catholic and not believe in transubstantiation? ›

Still, one-in-five Catholics (22%) reject the idea of transubstantiation, even though they know about the church's teaching. The vast majority of those who believe that the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Christ – 28% of all Catholics – do know that this is what the church teaches.

How is communion different in Catholic and Protestant? ›

Catholics believe in transubstantiation - that the bread and wine are physically changed into the body and blood of Christ. In most Protestant churches, communion is seen as a memorial of Christ's death. The bread and wine do not change at all because they are symbols.


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