Continued from Pa.ge One The Anglican primate said: "I welcome the affirmation of the Eucharist as a place of God's presence and action and also welcome the Pope's reaffirmation of his 'burning desire' for common Eucharistic celebration. This is an area of work which continues to be important for relations between Anglicans and Roman Catholics and we continue to work theologically on this together."
Bishop Michael Evans, who was installed last month as Bishop of East Anglia, defended the encyclical on BBC Radio Four's Sunday programme. He said he was "amazed" that the Pope's comments on intercommunion had been interpreted as an insult to non-Catholics.
The bishop, who is a leading ecumenist. said John Paul II was simply reaffirming the Church's long-held doctrine of the Eucharist and the Pontiff's remarks were consistent with the norms of the bishops of England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland set out in the 1998 teaching document, One Bread, One Body.
He explained that under the bishops' guidelines nonCatholics were allowed to receive Holy Communion in Catholic churches if they fulfilled certain conditions.
He also noted that although the encyclical ruled out concelebration of Masses by non-Catholic clergy, it spoke warmly of Catholic priests administering the Eucharist to Christians who were not in full communion with the Church when there was a "grave spiritual need for the eternal salvation of an individual believer".
He said the encyclical should be seen an attempt to inspire new wonder and fervour among Catholics for the Eucharist.
Ecclesia de Eucharistia will be published in early May by the Catholic Truth Society.