The Archbishops of Canterbury and York in a joint letter to all clergy have responded to the pressure for Communion to be administered in both kinds, sharing further guidelines from the Recovery Group of the House of Bishops. These guidelines effectively suggest that Communion may be administered using a form of intinction, though the document does not use that word, instead using the phrase simultaneous administration. This document is not yet available on the Church of England website.
In their covering letter the two archbishops write
The Bishops are involved in working to find an appropriate way to ensure Communion in both kinds is possible. We attach with this letter guidance from a working group who have been commissioned by the House of Bishops. We commend this to you. We hope that what they outline will be helpful for many as we plan what our practice will be over the coming weeks. The House of Bishops is committed to working further on this matter. However, the outcome of their discussions will take some time. The guidance attached is therefore interim and further information will be sent once the work has been done in the new year.
The text of the letter and the guidelines is copied below the fold.
Updated 2 December: A revised version of the covering letter and document has also been circulated. A copy can be found here: Holy-Communion-letter-and-guidance-011220. The original covering letter was undated, and the revised version is dated 1 December. We have updated the copy below with the changes leaving the earlier text in place as well but crossed out
like this, and additions or alterations are highlighted like this.
1 December 2020
To all the Clergy of the Church of England
Dear Friends in Christ
We are writing to give some advice relating to Holy Communion and its distribution as we move towards the Christmas season.
We want to stress the priority to keep safe in all that we do and to realise that given the current situation some of our normal practices cannot be maintained and we need to be careful and pragmatic. We encourage all of us to use our common sense and always to ensure we are caring for each other.
A key difficulty this year is the deprivation of the sacrament of Holy Communion. We are aware that for many Christians this is a significant and painful absence.
It is our hope and expectation that at the end of the current lockdown it will be possible for public worship in church buildings to continue. It will of course need to be in a COVID secure environment and we want to stress that we are aware that many clergy and laity will not feel able to re-start public worship and they should not feel under any pressure so to do.
In the Church of England (and indeed across the Anglican Communion) it is expected in normal times that Holy Communion will be received in both kinds.
Within the Church of England, we know that we seek to be one Church, loving and caring for one another with pastoral sympathy and accommodation. Even in normal times the practice of distribution of communion varies from place to place.
The Bishops are involved in working to find an appropriate way to ensure Communion in both kinds is possible. We attach with this letter guidance from a working group who have been commissioned by the Houseof Bishops. We commend this to you. We hope that what they outline will be helpful for many as we plan what our practice will be over the coming weeks.
The House of Bishops is committed to working further on this matter. However, the outcome of their discussions will take some time. The guidance attached is therefore interim and further information will be sent once the work has been done in the new year.
These matters do touch on deeper principles for us as a Church and we do need both to be sensitive to each other and to work hard to ensure the issues we are debating, and their consequences are understood by all involved.
We are clear on three essential points:
Different understandings of the Eucharist are beautifully and carefully observed and respected in the Church of England. It is a key part of our history and life together. We don’t want this to change.
Therefore, in the period between now and any further decisions on these matters, we encourage you to act, using the advice and direction given by your Diocesan Bishop, after discussion with the PCC, in accordance with their consciences, provided that the three principles set out above are strictly and invariably observed.
In so doing we observe our Anglican traditions and we ensure that in our actions we do not cause others to stumble.
With every blessing,
The Most Revd & Rt Hon Justin Welby
The Most Revd & Rt Hon Stephen Cottrell
|Issue Date||Version||Issued by|
1 December 2020
|The House of Bishops Recovery Group|
The Recovery Group has been set up to support the Church of England as government guidance changes through the COVID-19 pandemic. This document has been prepared with information available by the issue date. It will be kept under review and updated as the situation develops, with each update issued as a new version. The current version will always be available to download from the Church of England website via the Coronavirus FAQs page.
Since churches have re-opened, congregations have received Holy Communion under the form of the consecrated bread alone. This practice continues to be recommended for use in most contexts.
Recognising the ongoing nature of the pandemic, and a longing in some churches to receive Holy Communion in both kinds, this document offers a procedure for simultaneous administration of the consecrated bread and wine in a manner that seeks to minimise the possible health risks.
This procedure could be used in churches at the diocesan bishop’s invitation and by mutual agreement of the incumbent and PCC. Bishops may wish to invite the clergy in their diocese to use this procedure. Before doing so, it is recommended that clergy discuss it with the PCC.
This procedure seeks to minimise the COVID risk
of from receiving Communion in both kinds under current Church regulations, but not to although it will not remove it entirely. Nevertheless, we are satisfied that this is the best way of doing so, and that the straightforward principles in the Key Points below help to keep the risk as low as possible.
The simultaneous administration of consecrated bread and wine is effected by the president taking a piece of bread carefully from the paten or ciborium with the fingers and touching it briefly but carefully to the surface of the wine, allowing a small amount of the wine to suffuse into the bread.
Note: The procedure given above could be adapted for use in churches where it is the norm for someone other than the president, or several such people, to
administer distribute Communion, where all involved take care to observe the precautions noted above.