“That’s Catholic” is no excuse
I had a chat last night with a friend who’s from a Roman Catholic background and is now a priest in the Church of England. We ended up discussing the issue of concelebration – having multiple priests celebrating communion together, saying the words in unison. Sadly its a practice that, despite being at best entirely desirable, and at worst, in no way ruled out by the bible, has come to be sneered at simply for being too Catholic.
You’d have hoped that in the 470 years since the Roman Catholic and English churches parted their ways, we might have learnt to grow up and act like adults. Sadly, most people are actually pretty much used to the squabbling, but it doesn’t make it any less wrong. Jesus might have called us to approach God as if Children, but that doesn’t release us from a requirement to play nice, and perhaps it should also be seen as a exortation to diliberate childlike ignorance to such petty stupidity as this.
But no, it certainly seems that, simply because its seen as the Catholic thing to do, concelebration goes out of the window, and with it the idea that no one person can truly represent everyone in a congregation to God or vice-versa. Of those looking beyond the need for a priest at communion services, only 1 church I know of resorts to the entire congregation concelebrating; the remainder are looking to allow an arbitrarily selected (usually male) individual to celebrate alone.
Part of me wonder if this is something to do with how beautiful an action concelebration can be, especially when its priests from different parts of the world or from different backgrounds, as if somehow it has been rejected because it looks nice, and therefore it must be excessive and a sort of spiritual clutter to sweep under the carpet. it seems that the Protestants are still trying pretty hard to not be Catholics, for fear this fact alone would make them unholy. In other words, there’s this fear of becoming to Catholic.
In a day and age where conservative Catholics and Protestants have more ethically in common than conservatives and liberals from the same grouping, it just doesn’t make sense. No where did Jesus say “thou shalt not have two celebrants at communion”. Sure, there’s plenty one would not wish to emulate if one is looking for bad practice in the Catholic (and Protestant) Church, but surely the time has come to accept that something being from another tradition is not a reason per se to not do it. Sadly, if we wait around for such thinking to envelop the whole church, I suspect we might be here some time.