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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (ChurchMilitant.com) - After months of fervent appeals from the faithful, an Argentine bishop has reinstituted receiving the Eucharist on the tongue in his diocese — at least for the time being.
Bishop Eduardo María Taussig of San Rafael in the Andean highlands of Argentina decreed on the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25, that the priests of his diocese can once again distribute Communion as was customary until June 2020. Parish priests are now free to distribute Eucharist by mouth "to the faithful who request it" or in the hand.
Last year, he banned reception on the tongue, ostensibly in keeping with government-imposed coronavirus restrictions. Taussig threatened priests with dismissal should they continue distribution on the tongue.
Taking into account the epidemiological situation in the three departments of the diocese, having listened to the opinion of competent authorities and in view of the imminence of Holy Week, I wish to seek the best spiritual good of souls, the pacification of wounded hearts and advancing on a path of reconciliation and unity. For this reason, I resolve that each pastor or parochial administrator, within the scope of his own jurisdiction if he sees fit, authorizes the faithful who request it to give Communion in the mouth, with the due sanitary precautions.
He also asserted that the Church "puts on an equal footing the legitimate ways of receiving Communion in Argentina (in the hand or in the mouth)."
According to Chapter IV, section 92 of the Redemptionis Sacramentum:
Although each of the faithful always has the right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, at his choice, if any communicant should wish to receive the sacrament in the hand, in areas where the bishops' conference with the recognitio of the Apostolic See has given permission, the sacred host is to be administered to him or her. However, special care should be taken to ensure that the host is consumed by the communicant in the presence of the minister, so that no one goes away carrying the Eucharistic species in his hand. If there is a risk of profanation, then Holy Communion should not be given in the hand to the faithful.
"For my part, in seeking the corporal and spiritual good of all the faithful," Taussig wrote, "I strongly advise receiving Communion in the hand as a sign of caring for one's own life and of one's neighbor (Fifth Commandment), of charity and providing an example to other Catholics and non-Catholics."
Taussig also thanked "all the priests who have honored their promises and obedience, as well as the religious, consecrated and all the lay faithful who have accepted with faith and genuine devotion the measures in force until now."
He exhorted any dissenting clergy and laity "to use this new prescription with humility and ecclesial attitude to resume a path of communion with the bishop and with the diocesan Church and to repair the scandal raised and heal the wounds of the people of God."
Taussig's decree banning Communion by tongue triggered resistance and protest at the diocesan seminary — one of the most successful in the country and which had contributed priests to other countries. A number of seminarians and priests refused to comply. As a result, Taussig permanently closed the seminary, with the consent of Pope Francis, and sparked multitudinous rallies and protests by laity.
Critics of the ban pointed out that San Rafael, which lies in Mendoza province, had not seen any deaths attributed to the virus and had seen few infections. Many Catholics saw the ban as a concession to Argentina's ruling pro-abortion, pro-LGBTQ Peronist movement and its severe social distancing measures during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Taussig has issued no word about any reopening of the Mother of God seminary, which he closed permanently in November and dispersed its seminarians.
Despite fervent appeals from his flock in San Rafael, no answer has been forthcoming from Pope Francis, the fellow Argentine who as cardinal consecrated Taussig as bishop in 2004. Rumors continue to fly that the pope seeks to use Taussig to spread his new vision for the Church at large.
Argentine author Juan Carlos Monedero wrote in response to Church Militant, saying that while reinstating reception of the Eucharist on the tongue was the right decision, it was not done in the right spirit.
"It seems to me that Taussig sought to decompress the situation," Monedero wrote, adding, "He wanted to destroy the seminary and used disobedience as his excuse."
Monedero wrote that Taussig asks his flock to receive the Eucharist by hand as an "act of charity. This implies that those who don't receive Communion in the hand are lacking in charity," he wrote, adding that Taussig "uses honeyed words to stab us."
He noted that most practicing Catholics in San Rafael want the bishop to leave.
An anonymous comment on The Wanderer blog expressed consternation that Taussig should ask his flock to exhibit "humility and an ecclesial attitude" since he "breathed life into the scandal." The commentator also expressed surprise that Taussig should be concerned how non-Catholics perceive the way Catholics receive the Eucharist.
There remains a seminary in San Rafael, however. Founded 37 years ago in San Rafael by Fr. Carlos Miguel Buela, the Institute of the Incarnate Word or Instituto del Verbo Encarnado (IVE), has been plagued with controversy over the formation of priests and female religious as well as its association with disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
The Vatican acknowledged in 2016 that Buela had been credibly accused of homosexual predation and banned him from any further contact with IVE. In the 1990s, Buela and IVE were associated with a violent group that sought to overthrow the Argentine government and was otherwise involved in politics. IVE has been subjected to repeated investigations by Church authorities (including one by Bp. Taussig), and Buela was ousted from its leadership and exiled from Argentina. Because no Argentine bishops would ordain IVE seminarians, it was McCarrick who was willing to do so. IVE is now located in the United States, Italy, Philippines, Peru, Argentina and Brazil.
Former members of the religious congregation have dubbed it a "cult" and denounced what they see as its abusive practices. A former IVE religious sister told Church Militant in 2019, "It's a cult, not a religious order," and added that IVE maintained an "intense connection" to McCarrick. The anonymous young woman, who suffered depression and suicidal ideation because of psychological abuse she suffered at the hands of her superiors, left the Church but was eventually reconciled.
McCarrick acknowledged that, due to his many visits to IVE in Argentina, he became acquainted with Cdl. Jorge Bergoglio — the future Pope Francis.
While serving as primate of Argentina, then-cardinal Bergoglio headed an investigation of IVE. In 2001, IVE's seminaries in Argentina were closed. Buela returned from exile, openly defying ecclesiastical authorities. It was soon thereafter that Cdl. Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals and Vatican Secretary of State, took IVE under his wing. Bypassing Bergoglio, Sodano found IVE a new home with Bp. Andrea Maria Erba of the Velletri-Segni diocese in Italy.
In 2001, the ailing Pope St. John Paul II wrote a letter to the Argentine bishops, telling them that IVE had moved its headquarters to Italy and that Bp. Erba would commence ordaining seminarians. A month later, Cdl. Bergoglio and three other Argentine bishops responded to the pope, reaffirming their fealty and thanking the three papal commissions for investigating the troubled religious institute.
After that, McCarrick drew ever closer to IVE, becoming the only prelate in the Western Hemisphere to ordain IVE's seminarians. The disgraced McCarrick was also instrumental in bringing IVE to the United States.
IVE has drawn comparisons to the Legion of Christ, whose founder Fr. Marcial Maciel was determined by a Vatican investigation to have fathered several children and engaged in pedophilia with male seminarians and students.
Maciel was stripped of his priestly faculties and died in disgrace in 2008.
Cardinal Sodano was revealed to have protected Maciel in exchange for money. He resigned as dean of the cardinals on Dec. 21, 2019, which happened to be the same day that the Legion announced that 33 priests and 71 seminarians had been sexually abused under Maciel's tutelage.