NLM has more than one useful entry today. They picked up from a good Italian language Cantuale Antonianum that His Eminence Carlo Card. Caffarra, Archbishop of Bologna, has made the decision… wait for it…
… to require that in the certain great churches of Bologna Holy Communion will be distributed only on the tongue.
I find this interesting and encouraging.
In a time when Pope Benedict distributes Communion only on the tongue….
In a time when liturgical leaders such as the Secretary of the CDW, Archbishop Ranjith, has written about Communion and the Holy See’s own publishing arm printed a book by Bishop Anastasius Schneider Dominis Est…
In a time when many American dioceses are hurrying to recommend that Communion shouldn’t be given on the tongue because of risk of disease…
… we read of this decision.
Here is the text of the communique from the Archdiocese of Bologna, which I touched up from NLM’s translation and added my emphases and comments.
On the first Sunday of Advent twenty years ago, 1989, the resolution of the Italian Bishops’ Conference which authorised, with the approval of the Holy See, the distribution of Holy Communion in the hand, entered into force. [I remember that day very well. More below.]
In recent weeks, parish priests and rectors of churches in our diocese received a communique of the provisions issued by the Cardinal Archbishop, in the face of grave abuses that have been confirmed in this regard. In particular, the Cardinal has ordered that in the Cathedral of St. Peter, in the Basilica of San Petronio and in the Shrine of the Madonna di San Luca, Communion must be distributed to the faithful only on the tongue.
The possibility to receive the consecrated Host in the hand that was granted may, in fact, give rise to "grave abuses", because there are those "who take away the Sacred Species to keep them as souvenirs", "who sell them", or even worse "who take them way to desecrate them in Satanic rituals." [This is a real situation in Italy! Some areas of Italy have high occurances of activity by manifestly Satanic groups. They break into churches and desecrate cemetaries and other holy places.] Thus writes Provicar General, Msgr. Gabriele Cavina in the letter to the priests which accompanies the provisions of the Cardinal, citing a text of [Archbishop] Malcolm Ranjith, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
"We must take cognizance", Caffarra Cardinal writes,"that unfortunately there have been repeated cases of profanation of the Eucharist, taking advantage of the possibility to receive the consecrated Bread on the palm of the hand, above all, but not exclusively, on the occasion of large celebrations or in large churches subject to the passage of numerous faithful.
"For this reason it is good to be vigilant at the moment of Holy Communion, starting from observance of the common norms well known to all." [In other words there are already laws. Let's obey them?]
"During Communion", we read still in the decree of the Cardinal, "the servers shall assist the Minister, as far as possible, in watching that every faithful, after having received the consecrated Bread, consumes it immediately in front of the minister, and that it must for any reason be taken back to the seat, or put into pockets or bags or elsewhere, or that It fall to the ground and be trod upon." [You know... in Redemptionis Sacramentum we read that if there is danger of profanation of the Eucharist, Communion shouldn't be given in the hand. At what point do we come to realize that reception of Communion in the hand - simply and incontrovertibly put - greatly increases the risk of profanation?]
Together with a strong exhortation to vigilance that applies to all priests, the Cardinal issued the following provision for three churches in the diocese: "considering the frequency in which cases of irreverent behavior in the act of receiving the Eucharist have been reported" – writes the Cardinal – "we dispose that in the Metropolitan Church of St. Peter, the Basilica of San Petronio and the Shrine of the Blessed Virgin of St. Luke in Bologna, the faithful are to receive the consecrated Bread only from the hands of the Minister directly on the tongue."
This provision is attenuated for parishes, because, Msgr. Cavina writes, "the faithful are in large part known and the pastor can be more sure of their aptitude in making the gesture of Communion in the hand with the respect due, and he can from time to time step in with opportune reminders so as to educate continally the congregation to participate in the liturgy in an active and conscious manner".
I promised more on the day in 1989 when the Italian Bishops approved Communion in the hand.
I was in seminary in Rome. On that Sunday we were lining up to go into chapel for Mass. I was serving so I was next to the rector. The rector mentioned to me that that day was the first day that Communion in the hand was approved. He didn’t think that it would catch on. I disagreed, saying that in all those places where it starts, it was widespread. I said, it started from an abuse and spread from curiosity. Then it was reinforced by priests who have the notion that we no longer need to debase ourselves. Then other people imitated the others more and more. Then it became obligatory. That’s what happened in the United States.
He laughed it off, saying that none of our seminarians would be so foolish…. like Americans. Ha Ha!
As the seminarians headed into chapel, passing in front of us lined up for the procession in, we over heard one Italian say to another, "I think I’ll try Communion in the hand today." The other responded, "If you do it, I’ll do it too."
Buildings can be smashed down quickly by they are built up brick by brick.
Hopefully we will see this move of Card. Caffara in more places. He sets an example.
We need stronger discipline and clearer catechism with good preaching about the nature of the Eucharistic and the meaning of Holy Communion.