MOBILE, Ala. (ChurchMilitant.com) - The archbishop of Mobile, Alabama is demanding that his priests either distribute Holy Communion in the hand or stop saying public Mass altogether.
A Mobile priest shared a letter with Church Militant in which Abp. Thomas Rodi laid out his ultimatum.
"Social distancing must be maintained during the Mass and the only way to maintain social distancing when distributing Communion is by the communicant receiving on the hand," claimed Rodi in his letter issued last week.
The priest anonymously questioned Rodi's directive, saying he did not want his "standing as a priest" to be destroyed. He then spoke of the natural closeness that automatically occurs while distributing the Blessed Sacrament.
"The act, by its very nature, goes against social distancing," noted the priest.
He added, "Unless you want to deliver Our Lord on a selfie stick, you're going to be close to people. Such lunacy."
Rodi, however, would brook no disobedience in the matter.
"There can be no exceptions to our regulations for the celebration of public Masses," declared the bishop.
Then came his ultimatum.
"If any priest cannot follow archdiocesan regulations, it will be necessary for him to refrain from the celebration of public Masses," warned Rodi.
Blocking the faithful from receiving the sacraments does not sit well, however, with outspoken prelates like Bp. Athanasius Schneider. Speaking on Friday at the virtual Rome Life Forum, Schneider called those bishops, who directly prohibit their flock from receiving the sacraments, "fake shepherds."
The auxiliary bishop of Astana, Kazakhstan made these comments during his talk titled "The Eucharist, the greatest treasure of the Church, in time of tribulation."
Schneider drew attention to the "unique and serious" situation that occurred during the COVID-19 epidemic whereby public Masses and sacramental Holy Communion were suddenly halted.
By looking closely at the situation with the eyes of faith, he observed that it was possible to "discover behind all of this a deeper meaning."
"This event has come almost fifty years after the introduction of Communion in the hand," noted the bishop.
In his letter on Wednesday, Rodi called for vigilance during Mass to assure that the Wuhan virus does not spread.
"The potential for the spread of the virus among parishioners and among priests of our archdiocese is real," Rodi claimed.
Schneider, however, recalled that such preventative measures as stopping public Mass or banning Holy Communion on the tongue were not practiced in the past by the Church when dealing with pandemics.
"In the time of the plague, which had an incomparably higher mortality rate as the current epidemic of COVID-19, St. Charles Borromeo increased the number of the public celebrations of Holy Mass," Schneider related.
In his heavy-handed approach, however, Rodi is far from alone. Other bishops running roughshod over their flock include:
Stika went so far as to say he'd have any Catholic thrown out of church "if the person makes a scene" about not being able to receive Holy Communion on the tongue.
Taylor similarly decreed in his letter on May 4 that faithful Catholics, who won't receive the Eucharist in the hand, won't receive the sacrament period.
"No Communion on the tongue; those who are unwilling to receive on the hand make a Spiritual Communion instead," ordered Taylor.
The above list of bishops is far from complete. Church Militant is continually being barraged with complaints from Catholics across the nation, who are upset about being forced by their bishops and priests to be an occasion for the sacrilegious loss of particles of the Eucharist.
Father Jeffrey Robideau told Church Militant that bishops and clerics should not be forcing any parishioner to violate his well-formed conscience:
Most striking is the bishop who says that they will have to receive in the hand even if it violates their conscience. Church teaching is that one MUST follow their informed conscience. If the communicant believes that they must receive on the tongue and the priest believes he must place it in the hand, who wins? Who must violate their conscience? Who sins?
In his talk on Friday, Schneider asserted that the reception of Holy Communion in the hand desecrates the Blessed Sacrament.
"The praxis of Communion in the hand over the past fifty years has led to an unintentional and intentional desecration of the Eucharistic Body of Christ on an unprecedented scale," observed Schneider.
The bishop is calling on the Holy Father to universally ban the practice in order to avoid Divine retribution.
"The Pope should also forbid the practice of Communion in the hand, for the Church cannot continue unpunished to treat the Holy of Holies in the little sacred Host in such a minimalistic and unsafe manner," Schneider urged.
While bishops like Rodi are insisting priests and parishioners accept their personal directives, the Vatican's head liturgist Cdl. Robert Sarah is insisting that Universal Church law trumps contrary directives by such bishops, who are attempting to ban priests from distributing or parishioners from receiving Holy Communion on the tongue.
"There is already a rule in the Church and this must be respected," Sarah affirmed in May. "The faithful are free to receive Communion in the mouth or hand."