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ROME (ChurchMilitant.com) - A top Vatican official is condemning "profane" methods of administering the Eucharist amid the pandemic.
Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, made his comments to Italian news site La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana in a May 2 phone interview.
Cardinal Sarah responded to a proposal that involves sacred Hosts being wrapped individually in plastic bags and placed on shelves for Catholics to grab — ostensibly, for the sake of hygiene — by scorning it as "total madness." This method is reportedly being used in some churches in Germany, according to Italian daily newspaper La Stampa, to address the supposdely "high contagion risk" involved in receiving the Eucharist.
"God deserves respect, you can't put Him in a bag. I don't know who thought of this absurdity, even if it is true that the deprivation of the Eucharist is certainly suffering, the matter of how to administer is not open to negotiation," Sarah said.
"We communicate in a dignified way, worthy of God who comes to us. The Eucharist must be treated with faith. We cannot treat it as a trivial object. We are not at the supermarket," the cardinal continued.
What is being done in Germany is "totally insane," he said, adding, "Unfortunately, many things are done in Germany that are not Catholic, but that doesn't mean you have to imitate them. Recently I heard a bishop say that in the future there will be no more Eucharistic assemblies, only the liturgy of the Word. But this is Protestantism."
While acknowledging the laity's craving for the sacraments particularly during this time of physical and spiritual unrest, Sarah emphasized that the Eucharist is not a "right."
"It is a gift that we receive freely from God and that we must welcome with veneration and love," he noted.
"The Lord is a person, no one would welcome the person he loves in a bag or otherwise in an unworthy way. The response to the privation of the Eucharist cannot be desecration," Cdl. Sarah declared.
"Nobody can prevent a priest from confessing and giving communion. Nobody has the right to stop him," he emphasized.
Contradicting missives Churchmen throughout the world are sending their parishioners about receiving "Communion in the hand only," to save them from the Wuhan virus, the cardinal made clear: "There is already a rule in the Church and this must be respected: the faithful are free to receive Communion in the mouth or hand."
The Guinean prelate said, "Profanations have to stop — the Eucharist isn't negotiable."
Underscoring the importance of adhering to the Faith during this time of physical and spiritual unrest, he said: "If we believe, we cannot treat [the Holy Eucharist] unworthily."
He casts aspersions at the shepherd-priests, saying, "The heart of the problem lies in the crisis of faith in the priesthood," a theme he expounds on, along with Pope Benedict XVI, in From Depths of Our Hearts: Priesthood, Celibacy and the Crisis of the Catholic Church, a book that speaks to "the dark time" of the Catholic priesthood.
Speaking to new pressures for priests during the pandemic takeover, he said: "Mass in streaming is misleading also for priests: They must look at God, not at a camera," an argument ad orientem advocates espouse in any case.
"The Devil strongly attacks the Eucharist because it is the heart of the life of the Church," he said.
Social media has been on fire in response to the cardinal's comments.
While many commentators expressed comments that prioritized the safety of the body over the salvation of souls, most were supportive of the cardinal's comments.
One said: "Churches are complicit and willing collaborators with NWO [the New World Order]; they should be abandoned; they have betrayed Christ worse than Judas."
Another said, "Cardinal Sarah is a real threat to Satan and his minions. May God bless and protect him."
Cardinal Sarah is also author of The Day Is Now Far Spent, in which he analyzes the spiritual, moral and political collapse of the Western world and concludes that "the decadence of our time has all the faces of mortal peril."