UPDATED: 24 Feb 08 – 16:57:
Archbp. Ranjith has denied what is reported below. Check out the bottom of this entry for the details.
Rome – The Vatican is poised to introduce stricter norms on Roman Catholic mass, including halting the taking of communion in the hand and setting a time limit for homilies, an Italian newspaper reported Monday. Turin-based daily La Stampa quoted senior Vatican official, Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don saying the move was necessary to eliminate "extravagancies" that have crept into Mass celebrations.
Provisions include restricting to 10 minutes homilies [While I could think of some folks I would happily impose this on, this will never happen.] and sermons and ensuring that they be exclusively based on the Gospel readings, [This undermines this whole report. Ridiculous.] said Ranjith who is Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship.
The practice of allowing the faithful to receive Communion – the bread host which Catholics believe represents the body of Christ [Wrong again.] – in their hands would also be "urgently reviewed", Ranjith was quoted as saying.
The Vatican wants the host "placed directly into the mouths of the faithful so they don’t touch it (with their hands)… because many don’t even realize they are receiving Christ and do this with scant concentration and respect," Ranjith said.
The distribution of communion on the hands of those attending mass has been widespread since the so-called Vatican II Council – a series of reforms introduced in the 1960s aimed at making church celebrations more accessible [Can you sense the bias of the writer?] to the world’s 1.1 billion Catholics.
But according to Ranjith the practice was "illegally and hastily introduced by certain elements of the Church immediately after the Council".
"Some people keep hosts with them as a sort of souvenir, others sell them while in some cases the hosts have been taken away to be used in blasphemous Satanic rituals," he said.
Ranjith said the measures to bring back "dignity and decorum" to mass celebrations were in line with Pope Benedict XVI’s wishes, but he did not specify when they would be introduced, nor if they would be issues as an order or a set of guidelines.
Benedict, who earned a reputation as a conservative before being elected pontiff in 2005, last year eased restrictions introduced by Vatican II on the celebration of the traditional Latin mass.
The move which has included softening a prayer for the conversion of Jews contained in the Latin liturgical text, has drawn criticism from Jewish groups who resent what they say remains a singling out of members of their faith.
Meanwhile hard-line traditionalist Catholics have expressed anger over what they say is Benedict’s tampering of the original Latin mass which they regard as sacred.
Meanwhile, back at La Stampa, which inspired that piece, this is what was printed (my translation):
The Secretary for Divine Worship proposes reflection on the proproety of Communion in the hand
The Number Two at the Congregation for divine Worship, Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don, has tossed out the hypothesis of a reconsideration of distribution of the Host in the hand, widespread after the Second Vatican Council. The proposal is express in the preface of a book by the auxiliary bishop of Karaganda, in Kazakhstan, H.E. Athanasius Schneider, entitled “Dominus Est: riflessioni di un vescovo dell’Asia Centrale sulla Santa Comunione”. "The Eucharist, being bread and wine trasubstantiated into the Body and Blood of Christ, God in our midst, must be received with reverence and in an attitude of humble adoration." Archbp. Ranjith writes that the Second Vatican Council never authorized the practice of receiving Communion in the hand, a practice that was "introduced contrary to law and hastily in some places" and only later authorized by the Vatican. And he affirms that this practice has coincided with the beginning of "a gradual and increased weakening of reverential attitudes concerning the Eucharistic species." He concludes: "I believe that the time has come to take stock of these practices, to rethink them, and, if necessary, to abandon the current practice." According to Archbp. Ranjith, "now more than evern it is necessary to help the faithful renew a living faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, with the goal of reinforcing the very life of the Church and defending it in the midst of dangers distortions of the faith."
Mind you, this is all old news, reported here in August 2007 and on other blogs a long time ago now, at least in the time frame of the blogosphere.
Keep in mind also that this same auxiliary of Karaganda is auxiliary to H.E. Jan Pawel Lenga, MIC, who made a bit of a name for himself during the Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist on this very quesiton of Communion in the hand. Hee is what I wrote in The Wanderer and on this blog back in October of 2006:
Although at the time of this writing there have only been a few days of speeches, some themes are emerging as common concerns on the part of the attending bishops. We will look at these in the next weeks. For now, however, the issue of the effect of Communion in the hand has been raised and it is worth looking at what was said. His Excellency Jan Pawel Lenga, M.I.C., Archbishop of Karaganda (Kazakhstan) gave us of the materialistic West something to ponder (my translation): “Among the liturgical innovations that have grown up in the West, there emerge two in particular which obscure in a certain sense the visible dimension of the Eucharist in regard to its centrality and sacred nature; these are: the removal of the tabernacle from the center and the distribution of Communion in the hand. When you remove the Eucharistic Lord, ‘the sacrificed and living Lamb”, from the central position and when in the distribution of Communion in the hand there is undeniably increased the danger of losing particles, of profanations, and of a virtual reduction of the Eucharistic bread to the level of ordinary bread, you create unfavorable conditions for a growth in the depth of faith and in devotion. Communion in the hand is becoming common, and is even more and more becoming dominant as the easiest way to go, almost as a kind of fad. … I therefore want humbly to make the following concrete proposals: that the Holy See might establish a universal norm according to which the official manner of receiving Communion would be on the tongue and kneeling. [Amen and amen.] Communion in the hand would be reserved to clerics. May diocesan bishops where Communion in the hand has been introduced, work with pastoral prudence gradually to lead back the faithful back to the official rite of Communion, valid for all the local Churches.”
Apparently the auxiliary has taken up the banner and Archbp. Ranjith has sounded the trumpet.
WDTPRS applauds, again, Archbp. Ranjith for his bold words, which – though this story is a little dated – bear fruitful repetition.
Communion in the hand is a scourge.
While people still have the right by law to receive this way, we must respect the practice.
But we must also teach teach teach about this important issue so that, even while the practice remains licit, fewer and fewer will opt to receive in the hand.
From Rorate with my emphases and comments:
The Italian daily La Stampa suggested today that there could be a vast Vatican plan to reform some practices in the new Mass (according to the Missal of Paul VI). It seems, however, that no new norms and regulations for the Missal of Paul VI are foreseen, as Vatican Radio reports:
Abp. Ranjith denies an article of the daily La Stampa: there will be no new pronouncements on the matter of the celebration of the Mass
The secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Abp. Malcolm Ranjith, has denied today what is contained in an article published with today’s date on the daily La Stampa.
The article mentions a supposed "turning point in the Vatican against – it is written – the ‘extravagances’ in Mass and to review some recent practices such as communion in the hand."
Abp. Ranjith notices that there is in the article a collage of sentences pronounced by him in different contexts which have given rise to out-of-place construction.
[Ranjith] Clarifies thus that, in the matter of the celebration of Holy Mass, with respect both to the priest and to the faithful, the binding discipline contained in the liturgical books is clear.
Therefore – Abp. Ranjith affirms -, no ulterior pronouncements regarding the matter are foreseen. The expectation – he concludes – is that the existing norms and indications shall be regularly applied and that the Eucharist be celebrated with devotion, seriousness, and nobility.
RORATE Editorial Note: It seems that all the advocates of the "Reform of the Reform" will have to get used to the idea that the great measure of authentic reform is the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum – and that the Missal of Saint Pius V is their only hope.
The plot thickens. Remember that there is even within the Congregation a faction arrayed against Archbp. Ranjith.
In the main WDTPRS agrees with Rorate on this point about Summorum Pontificum being the greatest source of hope!
As I had said time and again, the use of the older form of Mass will exert an inexorable "gravitational pull" on the way the newer Mass is celebrated. It will shift the perception of younger priests about who they are and what Mass is. It will instill more and more a sense of the Sacrifice that is Holy Mass and the reverence to due the Eucharistic Lord.
With that "gravitational pull" will come, slowly at first to be sure, a shift in the practice of reception of Holy Communion. That must happen.