Gordon Rayner THE TELEGRAPH
Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of "disrespecting the Catholic faith" after he took Holy Communion despite his apparent agnosticism.
The Labour leader, who has never practiced Catholicism, took wine and wafers during the funeral of the former GMB Union president Mary Turner, who died in July.
The Diocese of Westminster, which is responsible for the church Mr Corbyn was attending at the time, responded by saying that it expected celebrants to be "in full communion with the Catholic Church" in order to receive Communion.
The left-wing New Statesman magazine reports that Mr Corbyn queued for Communion with his Mexican wife Laura Alvarez during the service at Sacred Heart Church in Kilburn, north London.
He is not the only Labour leader to be criticised for taking Communion: in 1996 the late Cardinal Basil Hume wrote to Tony Blair asking him to refrain from taking Communion when he was attending Mass with his family.
Mr Blair was at the time a practicing Anglican, and replied: "I wonder what Jesus would have made of it."
Mr Corbyn's office declined to comment on his taking Communion, but a Labour source said the Labour leader had spoken at the funeral and "paid his respects to her family and Mary's memory".
Clare Bowskill of the Latin Mass Society said: "Most Catholics would think that was disrespecting the faith quite considerably. Even Anglicans are normally told at Mass that they are welcome to come up for a blessing but they do not take Communion."
The Eucharist is considered the most important of the seven sacraments, and Catholic Church guidelines state that non-Christians cannot receive it. According to the book of Corinthians, "any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself".
Sacred Heart is part of the Diocese of Westminster, which said in a statement: "To receive Holy Communion in the Catholic Church, a person is expected to be in full communion with the Catholic Church. Normally, a priest would presume this is the case, unless he has clear knowledge or indication that this is not the case."
Mr Corbyn has always refused to be drawn on whether he has any religious beliefs, though Labour confirmed today that he is not a Catholic and did not convert to Catholicism to marry his current wife.
In 2015 he said: “I respect all faiths, I probably spend more time going to religious services than most people, of all types. I go to synagogues, I go to mosques, I go to temples, I go to churches, and I have many humanistic friends and I have many atheist friends. I respect them all."
Asked if it would be accurate to describe him as an atheist, he said: “There are so many things about me written that are unfair, unjust and ill-searched that it would be wrong. I’m not going any further than that, belief is a private thing.”
Mr Corbyn's church visits have got him into trouble in the past. Shortly after becoming Labour leader he was roundly criticised when he refused to sing the National Anthem at a Battle of Britain memorial service in St Paul's Cathedral.
I don't see any problem with Jeremy Corbyn receiving Holy Communion at the funeral of his friend.
Of course it against of the teaching and discipline of the RC Church for a non-Catholic to receive Communion.
It is also against its teaching for a Catholic who is not "in good standing" or in "mortal sin" to take Communion.
I do not like Tony Blair or much that he says. But he was quite correct to respond in the way he did to being told he should not have taken Communion when he was not Catholic - "I WONDER WHAT JESUS WOULD HAVE MADE OF IT".
Of course, Jesus when he first made Communion available was a JEW!
And the first people who received Holy Communion were also JEWS!
Can you imagine Jesus presiding over a Eucharist and REFUSING ANYONE PRESENT Communion?
At our Oratory in Larne - ANYONE who presents for Communion receives it.
And that has included members of other Christian churches, Muslims, and members of the Parsee faith of India.
Communion is not a REWARD for being a Catholic or being GOOD.
Communion is spiritual food.
It is also a sign of community/communion among those present.
I have never - and will never refuse Communion to anyone.
It is God's gift. Who am I to refuse God's gift to anyone?
I have been refused Communion myself TWICE - once by traditionalist Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and once by Phonsie Cullinan in Waterford.