SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (ChurchMilitant.com) - Tension is brewing between the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the bishop of Springfield, Massachusetts, who is forbidding Holy Communion on the tongue in spite of the USCCB's recent decision to the contrary.
In anticipation of Massachusetts' planned multiphase reopening, Springfield bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski sent his clergy a document titled "Re-Opening Considerations" to give guidelines and suggestions for conducting public Masses as they resume.
Maintaining previous diocesan restrictions and state guidelines, Rozanski is requiring that at public Masses, Holy Communion is offered in the hand only, Holy Water fonts remain empty and covered, social distancing is enforced at a minimum of six feet between individuals and masks be worn at all times.
Rozanski's prohibition of Holy Communion on the tongue contradicts the USCCB's "Guidelines for Sacraments and Pastoral Care" published in late April, which states:
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.
Rozanski's document further states that he "also anticipates extending the general dispensation [dispensation from one's Sunday obligation to attend Mass]."
For collecting donations, Rozanski forbids baskets being passed hand-to-hand, permits ushers using baskets with extended arms and suggests the option of baskets at the entrances for parishioners to drop off donations before Mass: "This is best collected at the beginning to avoid back-ups when people are exiting church. These baskets should be clearly marked."
Rozanski also wishes to increase the number of and militarize ushers to keep count of Mass attendees, while ensuring all attendees are wearing masks and observing social distancing.
"Every parish will need ushers to facilitate protocols. Number needed will be based on number of entrances," states the document. "Given the increased duties, current ushers may need to be supplemented with young members. Consider asking parishioners with law enforcement backgrounds to help out, as they tend to have experience dealing with the public in controlled situations."
Rozanski is one of the American bishops to have implemented extreme and sometimes unprecedented measures during the Wuhan virus.
The suspension came after Rozanski tried a novel method for administering the last rites, saying, "I am allowing the assigned Catholic hospital chaplains, standing outside a patient's room or away from their bedside, to dab a cotton swab with Holy Oil and then allow a nurse to enter the patient's room and administer the oil."
Rozanski served as the chair for the USCCB's Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs (EIA) from 2014–2017.
In 2016, the USCCB participated in a panel discussion with the Islamic Society of North America — a front group of the Muslim Brotherhood. The discussion was sponsored by the National Catholic-Muslim Dialogue, an outreach group of the EIA chaired by Rozanski at the time.
Later that year, Rozanski sponsored "Looking at the Face of Mercy Through the Eyes of God" — an interfaith dialogue — through the dioceses's Office of Faith Formation. The dialogue included speakers such as Imam Rasul Seifullah of the Al-Baqi Islamic Center for Human Excellence and Rabbi Devorah Jacobson, director of spiritual life for Jewish Geriatric Services Lifecare.
In 2017, Rozanski endorsed Jordan Denari Duffner's book, Finding Jesus Among Muslims: How Loving Islam Makes Me a Better Catholic:
In our world fraught with division and despair, Jordan Denari Duffner's experiences bring a fresh insight into Muslim-Catholic relations. In addition to recounting her many positive encounters with people of the Muslim faith, Jordan shares her insights in the ways that her own Catholic faith has deepened as a result. This book is an oasis of hope and a must read by all who take seriously the need for dialogue and understanding, particularly between Muslims and Catholics.
In 2016, Rozanski published "The Wideness of God's Mercy: A Pastoral Letter Reflecting on Evangelization" on the diocesan website.
Rozanski asked "each parish, as part of their evangelization efforts, to study and examine the needs of their people and local community to determine how they can provide for them."
He then provided "some areas to focus on" based on the "diocesan survey," including: "The gay community feels that they aren't welcome. They don't want to espouse another religion; therefore, they don't attend church at all. Hopefully, a special outreach could be done to them."
Many were confused, wondering what exactly Rozanski wanted his priests to focus on regarding practicing homosexuals who feel unwelcome. Then, in December 2019, the bishop compounded confusion regarding his stance by forbidding the Pioneer Valley Gay Men's Chorus to sing at a parish Christmas concert.