Being ‘in communion’

In the last post I referred to King Aldfrith and Adomnan of Iona not being “in communion” and it occurred to me that not everyone may know that this short for a specific ecclesiastical meaning. I think at this point in the early medieval period, churches were either in communion or out of communion. Today there are recognitions of partial communion that I doubt existed then. To be in full communion means to recognize unity as one church, literally that they can share communion or a eucharistic celebration. Churches in full communion recognize the sacraments of the other as being valid. To be out of communion, as Iona and some churches in Ireland and Britain were with Romr in the seventh century, means that neither recognized the sacraments of the other. So we hear in the southwest that Welsh monks would eat at the same table with English monks. Sharing a meal, breaking bread, has common symbolism with the eucharist so we really shouldn’t be surprised that they would not eat together. Likewise other sacraments would have to be repeated when a church joined Rome. Scholars today tend to play this down because it seems impractical to rebaptize everyone but that is no more impractical than it was to batize them all on the first place. The authority on display would have made it more than worthwhile.

Advertisements

2 comments on “Being ‘in communion’

  1. kim says:

    “To be out of communion, as Iona and some churches in Ireland and Britain were with Rom[e] in the seventh century, means that neither recognized the sacraments of the other.”
    “Likewise other sacraments would have to be repeated when a church joined Rome. Scholars today tend to play this down because it seems impractical to rebaptize everyone but that is no more impractical than it was to ba[p]tize them all on the first place.”

    Really?
    Could you please provide some citations for these points? They are highly controversial.
    Double baptism was a heresy in late antiquity/early medieval church. See ‘Controversy, Donatist’.
    Irish and British Christians rebaptised when their churches ‘joined Rome’? denied sacraments at churches in Rome? where? when? Sources, please.
    I very much doubt any Irish or British (except possibly Pelagius and his cohort) were denied sacraments in Rome or rebaptised anywhere. Some Insular ‘sacraments’ were considered dodgy or suspect in Rome, such as some ordinations and the credentials of some bishops, but that is a very different matter from denying sacraments or, heaven forbid, rebaptising anyone.

  2. Michelle says:

    On baptism it is implied in Bede’s History. You have to look for clues scattered throughout seventh century and earlier sources.

Comments are closed.