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FARGO, N.D. (ChurchMilitant.com) - Parishioners in the diocese of Fargo, North Dakota are unhappy with plans that may deny them Holy Communion on the tongue.
One concerned parishioner recently sent Church Militant a text that her pastor had recently written to her. It read:
The priests of the diocese received a directive today that we cannot give Holy Communion on the tongue. I replied, asking about the universal permission the Church gives and was told that since there has been no recent directive given by the Vatican that prevents bishops from making that decision, a bishop is thus within his rights to decide for his diocese. I just wanted to inform you ahead of time so that you're not surprised tomorrow or whenever you will attend Mass next.
The parishioner told Church Militant, "My priest is a good and holy priest who celebrates ad orientem with no eucharistic ministers. Until today, he's been allowing Communion on the tongue."
"I'm so frustrated!" she added. "I wrote the bishop, messaged the diocese of Fargo on Facebook, and am considering joining the faithful in a prayer protest outside his residence in Fargo."
This woman had been very perplexed that her ordinary, Bp. John Folda, would send out this directive today, especially after reading the universal directive by the Vatican and the recent U.S. bishops' guidelines, both addressing Communion on the tongue.
"What is going on?!" she said rhetorically. "Your article today clearly shows the U.S. bishops allowing reception of communion on the tongue ... ."
Although each of the faithful always has the right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, at his choice, if any communicant should wish to receive the Sacrament in the hand, in areas where the bishops' conference with the recognitio of the Apostolic See has given permission, the Sacred Host is to be administered to him or her. However, special care should be taken to ensure that the Host is consumed by the communicant in the presence of the minister, so that no one goes away carrying the eucharistic species in his hand. If there is a risk of profanation, then Holy Communion should not be given in the hand to the faithful.
On April 28, the U.S. bishops guidelines reiterated this directive in their Guidelines on Sacraments and Pastoral Care, stating in part:
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 (social distancing, etc.), it is possible to distribute on the tongue without unreasonable risk.
The guidelines were established by a working group consisting of priests and medical doctors including infectious disease specialist Dr. Timothy Flanagan.
Cardinal Francis Arinze, former Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, has also reaffirmed the right to receive Communion on the tongue. "No priest has the right to demand that, and even no bishop has the right to demand you must receive on the hand. ... The faithful remain free to receive on the tongue," he said.
Likewise, Archbishop Alexander Sample of Portland, Oregon has come out with a statement affirming the option of Communion on the tongue, as has Bp. Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, who said, "Communion on the hand or on the tongue are options for the faithful that cannot be restricted."
In spite of these multiple reaffirmations, accounts continue to surface of prelates making plans to offer the faithful of their dioceses Communion in the hand only, including the bishops of Michigan, Orlando, Milwaukee, Denver, Salt Lake City and now, Fargo.