Bishop Protects Reverent Communion

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by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  July 21, 2020   

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LANSING, Mich. (ChurchMilitant.com) - The bishop of Lansing, Michigan is confirming that he will enforce the right of communicants to receive Holy Communion on the tongue in spite of resistance from some of his pastors.

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Bp. Earl Boyea

After Bp. Earl Boyea issued liturgical guidelines in May that assured communicants they could always receive the Blessed Sacrament on the tongue, three parishes in his diocese were not giving parishioners that choice. A video from St. Gerard in Lansing presents Communion in the hand as the only option. Similarly, a bulletin from both Owosso parishes, St. Joseph and St. Paul, clearly spells out to laity that they must only receive in the hand.

The bulletin reads, "At this time, for health reasons, you can only receive in the hand."

Church Militant reached out to Boyea to see if he would intervene. After conferring with the bishop, Lansing's Director of Communication David Kerr confirmed that Boyea will indeed stand-up for the rights of the laity as guaranteed by universal Church authority.

We will continue to work with our parishes to ensure they have the capability and, importantly, the confidence to distribute Holy Communion on the tongue.

Asked if Boyea could "clarify that communicants will be allowed to receive Holy Communion on the tongue at these parishes moving forward," Kerr responded:

The recently issued liturgical guidelines from the Office of Worship of the diocese of Lansing both endorses and explains the Church's existing guidance on the reception of Holy Communion as contained within Redemptionis Sacramentum and, thus, we will continue to work with our parishes to ensure they have the capability and, importantly, the confidence to distribute Holy Communion on the tongue without unreasonable risk to personal or public health.

 

The liturgical guidelines issued in May by Boyea's Office of Worship also reference the universally binding instruction titled Redemptionis Sacramentum, issued in 2004 by the Congregation of Divine Worship (CDW). That 2004 instruction reads:

We have carefully considered the question of Communion on the tongue vs. Communion in the hand. Given the Church's existing guidance on this point (see Redemptionis Sacramentum, no. 92), and recognizing the differing judgments and sensibilities that are involved, we believe that, with the precautions listed here, it is possible to distribute on the tongue without unreasonable risk.

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Abp. Alexander Sample of Portland

In 2009, a lay Catholic in Britain facing restriction on receiving Communion on the tongue owing to the swine flu scare wrote to the Congregation of Divine Worship (CDW), which responded

This dicastery observes that its Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum (March 25, 2004) clearly stipulates that "each of the faithful always has the right to receive Holy Communion of the tongue" (n. 92) nor is it licit to deny Holy Communion to any of Christ's faithful who are not impeded by law from receiving the Holy Eucharist.

Boyea's response mirror's the one given in May by Portland, Oregon's Abp. Alexander Sample. In the face of conflicting reports by U.S. bishops, Church Militant reached out to Sample to see if he was standing by his March statement that affirmed communicants must always be allowed to receive the Eucharist on the tongue.

"Yes," replied Sample's communications director David Renshaw. "People will always be able to receive on the tongue."

Sample, who is well versed in canon law as well as liturgical law, had confirmed in March that fear of the Wuhan virus doesn't negate the universal right of Catholics to receive Holy Communion on the tongue.

People will always be able to receive on the tongue.

On March 2, Sample's office issued a statement from the archbishop relating that the archdiocese had received calls from parishioners who "have been denied Holy Communion on the tongue or have been told that Holy Communion on the tongue has been banned in certain parishes."

His March statement also referenced Redemptionis Sacramentum and further explains: 

After consulting with the archbishop, this office would like to clearly communicate that a parish cannot ban the reception of Holy Communion on the tongue, nor may an Ordinary or Extraordinary minister refuse a person requesting Holy Communion on the tongue. [Cf: Redemptionis Sacramentum 92. "Each of the faithful always has the right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue at his choice."

In May, Boyea opened a video welcoming parishioners back to Mass after it had been suspended in March. During the video, Boyea affirmed the Eucharist is truly the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the same Christ who called the 12 Apostles together 2,000 years ago.

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