Communion Wars

News: US News
by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  •  May 4, 2020   

Coming to a head

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DETROIT ( - Many U.S. bishops are using fear of the Wuhan virus to illegally suspend the universal right of Catholics to receive Holy Communion on the tongue.

A well-placed source inside the Lansing diocese told Church Militant that Michigan's bishops are collectively working to find a way they can require people to receive Holy Communion only in the hand once public Masses resume.

Bp. Earl Boyea of Lansing

"They're kicking it around," and likely "trying to get permission through the Vatican," said the source.

"All Michigan bishops are involved in this, not just Lansing," the source added.

Michigan bishops know they need permission from Rome because the Vatican previously overruled attempts of bishops to ban Communion on the tongue in attempts to avoid germs.

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.

The CDW's 2009 response was based on a universally binding instruction on the liturgy it had published in 2004 titled, "Redemptionis Sacramentum," which regulates Mass rubrics. Paragraph 92 of the instruction stipulates, "each of the faithful always has the right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, at his choice."

Unlike the stealth approach used by Michigan bishops, other prelates are more forthcoming about their plans to force each Catholic to receive the Eucharist in the hand, contrary to his well-formed conscience.

Each of the faithful always has the right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue.

Orlando Bp. John Noonan announced May 1 that this change in how the Blessed Sacrament is received will be implemented once public Mass resumes.

"When we receive the Eucharist, it will be the Sacred Host alone; the Eucharist will be offered on the hand only," warned Noonan.

Bp. John Noonan of Orlando

The same video further instructs Catholics to make their hands into a throne to hold the "Bread of Heaven."

"When we receive the Sacred Host, we will receive in the hand," stated the commentator.

Noonan is far from alone. A statement from the Milwaukee archdiocese is telling parishioners that when public Mass resumes on May 31, "Communion is to be received ONLY in the HAND."

The archdiocese of Denver is likewise planning to force each faithful Catholic to receive Holy Communion in the hand, even if it violates his conscience.

"Similar to protocols established in early March, extra precautions will be taken, like suspending the distribution of the Precious Blood and receiving Holy Communion only on the hand," reported the Denver Catholic.

Bp. John Folda of Fargo

Similar statements are coming from multiple dioceses across the country including the dioceses of Salt Lake City and Fargo, North Dakota.

Fargo's Bp. John Folda seemingly contradicted himself on April 30 by telling his faithful they do have a right to receive the Blessed Sacrament on the tongue but that he was suspending that right anyway.

"Although the faithful are entitled to receive Holy Communion either on the tongue or in the hands," affirmed Folda, "in order to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus, the extraordinary measure will be taken of only receiving Holy Communion in the hand."

But at least two archbishops, including Abp. Alexander Sample of the archdiocese of Portland, Oregon, are saying that Communion on the tongue doesn't pose any greater health risk than does reception in the hand.

Through a statement from the archdiocese on Mar. 2, Sample affirmed that receiving Holy Communion on the tongue or in the hand posed equal health risks.

Abp. Alexander Sample of Portland

"This morning we consulted with two physicians regarding this issue, one of which is a specialist in immunology for the State of Oregon. They agreed that done properly the reception of Holy Communion on the tongue or in the hand pose a more or less equal risk," said the statement. "The risk of touching the tongue and passing the saliva on to others is obviously a danger, however the chance of touching someone's hand is equally probable and one's hands have a greater exposure to germs."

Archbishop José Antonio Eguren Anselmi of the Piura archdiocese made a similar assertion in March when assuring parishioners they would not be forced to receive the Blessed Sacrament in the hand.

"Holy Communion can continue to be received in the usual way at the choice of the faithful Christian, that is, either in the mouth or in the hand," said Eguren, "since world experts in immunology point out that the risk of contagion, between ... communion in the mouth or in the hand is the same."

Regardless of the fact that Catholics have a universal right to receive Holy Communion reverently on the tongue, many have contacted Church Militant in the last two months saying they fear that lawless bishops may soon attempt to strip them of this right. The risk of profanation may move many of them to avoid receiving the Eucharist altogether.

The Catholic Church teaches that the Eucharist is not a symbol, but the real Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, requiring that He be received with the utmost reverence.

--- Campaign 31540 ---


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