Communion on the Tongue Confirmed

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by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  May 5, 2020   

Oregon prelate stands firm

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PORTLAND, Ore. (ChurchMilitant.com) - The archbishop of Portland, Oregon is confirming that Catholics always retain the right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue.

In the face of conflicting reports by U.S. bishops, Church Militant reached out to Abp. Alexander Sample to see if he's standing by his March statement affirming communicants must be allowed to receive the Eucharist on the tongue.

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Bp. Michael Olson

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

Fort Worth Bishop Defiant

This right, affirmed by Sample, is being gainsaid by Fort Worth bishop Michael Olson.

Church Militant has learned that Olson on Monday berated priests who went against his April 29 directive that supposedly forbid them from distributing Holy Communion on the tongue.

Olson mandated on April 29 that his priest would now only place the Blessed Sacrament into the unconsecrated hands of laity.

"I am asking that the venerable custom of receiving Holy Communion on the tongue not be done during this period of pandemic," stipulated Olson.

But a local source said the bishop was dictating, not requesting: "We were informed yesterday that Bp. Olson held a meeting with his priests and told them they are not to give Communion on the tongue at all," the source stated.

"Some priests," the source said, "were quietly still distributing on the tongue this weekend, though, which apparently greatly upset Bishop Olson." 

We were informed yesterday that Bp. Olson held a meeting with his priests and told them they are not to give Communion on the tongue at all.

The source added that even good priests began knuckling under to Olson and started placing Holy Communion onto the hands of Catholics:

As a result, this morning a very good and faithful priest who always distributes Communion with the greatest of reverence and in front of a kneeler (except when Bp. Olson is present), and who always encourages Communion on the tongue made a statement that was only able to distribute in the hand. Olson's words were apparently enough to scare even the holiest of priests out of Communion on the tongue.

But it's not to be this way, affirmed Sample, who is well versed in canon law as well as liturgical law. He is confirming that fear of the Wuhan virus doesn't affect his March statement upholding the universal right of Catholics to receive Holy Communion on the tongue.

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On March 2, Sample's office issued a statement from the archbishop relating 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."

Michigan bishops are collectively petitioning Rome to obtain permission to ban Communion on the tongue.

His statement then references a universally binding instruction titled Redemptionis Sacramentum issued in 2004 by the Congregation of Divine Worship (CDW). The statement from Sample's office 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."

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Fr. Steve Mattson

Nonetheless, there has been defiance among clergy.

Michigan Bishops Pushing 'Profanation'

Michigan bishops are apparently aware of this higher authority, which blocks them from attempting to do what Olson did. Church Militant reported Monday that Michigan bishops are collectively petitioning Rome to obtain permission to ban Communion on the tongue.

One Michigan priest is even jumping the gun and deciding on his own to ban Communion on the tongue. Pastor of Lansing's Church of the Resurrection, Fr. Steve Mattson, is telling parishioners at Sunday's Mass, "I plan to limit distribution of Communion to Communion in the hand."

He said he was acting on the advice of his ordinary, Bp. Earl Boyea, and doing so to avoid spreading the Wuhan virus.

The head of the CDW, Cdl. Robert Sarah, however, is condemning "profane" methods of administering Holy Communion during any pandemic. The Vatican's head liturgist is correcting church leaders throughout the world, who are misdirecting parishioners to receive "Communion in the hand only," supposedly to avoid passing on contagion.

The cardinal on May 2 clarified, "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."

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