The Catholicism and Orthodox churches do not recognize the Eucharist of protestant churches. Why not?


As far as both Catholics and Orthodox are concerned, you need a validly ordained priest to confect the Eucharist.(see e.g. CCC, ¶1411) As far as they are concerned, none of the churches that originate from the Reformation period have what is required for a valid priesthood (i.e. bishops in unbroken tactile succession from the Apostles(see CCC, ¶1576)), so the Eucharist cannot be validly celebrated by these churches.

This may look uncharitable on the surface. In reality, the Catholics and Orthodox could not accept the validity of Protestant Eucharists without significantly altering their own doctrine.

On another related point, it's worth noting that Catholics and Orthodox do not even properly consider the Protestant churches "Churches" in the proper sense: they are referred to technically as "ecclesial communities" precisely because they have not preserved the sacramental priesthood and therefore the Eucharist:

According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called “Churches” in the proper sense. Responses to some questions regarding certain aspects of the doctrine of the Church)

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  • This is a good answer, but would be improved with references, if possible. – Flimzy Dec 27 '13 at 11:55
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    @Flimzy References have indeed been added. – lonesomeday Dec 27 '13 at 12:52

It's clearly because Catholics believe that the bread and wine are the physical Body and Blood of Christ. Protestants do not. So, therefore, it's a fundamentally different ritual in Protestant churches.

The 1896 Papal Bull declaring all Anglican denominations to be "null and void" was after hundreds and hundreds of years of disagreement on the fundamental nature of the eucharist. I am of the opinion, as an Anglican, that it is merely symbolic and demonstrates our devotion to Christ to do exactly as he said to do when we remember him, for thousands of years.

That's why. Personally, I think it's best not to raise the issue with Catholics. It's not a salvation-killer (is there such a thing, ah a topic for another thread) or anything, after all.

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  • This is better than your last post I commented on. And it is correct too. I'm glad to see you are showing an interest in the site. – 3961 Dec 23 '13 at 6:27
  • It's worth pointing out that the situation with Anglicans is complex, much more so than with, say, Presbyterians. Plenty of Anglicans have Catholic beliefs about the Eucharist, and many would not consider themselves Protestant. – lonesomeday Dec 23 '13 at 7:27
  • @lonesomeday Yes, if I recall correctly, an Anglican may choose to accept or reject transubstantiation, where a Catholic must accept it as a central doctrine. – 3961 Dec 23 '13 at 19:48
  • "It's clearly because Catholics believe that the bread and wine are the physical Boyd and Blood of Christ." Some protestant churches hold this view, too, so that's clearly not the answer. Even if that were the answer, it's not at all clear that it is--please provide references. – Flimzy Dec 27 '13 at 11:53

In 1896, Pope Leo XIII issued a papal bull Apostolicae Curae declaring all Anglican ordinations to be "absolutely null and utterly void". This is because of they changed the form of ordination rites in such a way as to render them invalid. This means the Anglicans don't have valid orders and therefore they cannot confect the Eucharist. Changes to the rites of ordination did not occur during the Great Western Schism.

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  • Unfortunately, while this is true of Anglicans of the 19th century, it is not true of Anglicans today. A number of schismatics from the Netherlands (including validly ordained bishops) joined the Anglican Church and they did have valid orders. Right now their orders' validity is as clear as paste. – cwallenpoole Jul 11 '14 at 15:43
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    @thedarkwanderer Ok. My point is that Leo XIII's bull is of dubious relevance here. – cwallenpoole Apr 19 '15 at 20:32

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