A Case of Inter-Communion
Jane and Stephan Stephanopolis are both practicing Roman Catholics. They are
going to Greece to celebrate Stephan's parents' 50th wedding anniversary. They
will stay there for a month. Jane is concerned that there are no Roman Catholic
churches near the Stephanopolis homestead. She applies to her local bishop for
a dispensation for herself and her husband so they can attend the Greek Orthodox
Church services while they are in Greece, in lieu of their Sunday Mass obligation.
Bishop Franklin grants the dispensation for both Jane and Stephan.
Stephan comes to you because he is concerned about whether his dispensation
is valid, since his wife is the one who requested it. What do you tell him?
Analyze this case:
- What are the key facts of the case?
- Are there any other facts you would need or like to know?
- What are the key pastoral issues involved?
- What canons do you see as pertinent to this case?
- What literary, rhetorical & historical aspects of these canons are
important for their interpretation?
- How would you resolve the case? (specify your official position in the
- What are the grounds for your decision?
- Briefly, what are the ethical, pastoral, and theological implications of
- Did they really need this dispensation?
- What if they were only visiting for a week? Then would they need one?
- What if the dispensation incorrectly lists Stephan's name as Stanley? Is it valid?
- What if there really is a Roman Catholic Church in the town, but Jane does not mention
that because they want to attend the Greek Orthodox Church with the Stephanopolis clan?
Then is the dispensation valid?
- What if there turns out to be a Roman Catholic Church in the town, but Jane did not
know it when she applied for the dispensation? Then is it valid, or must they attend the
Roman Catholic Church for Mass?