I don’t know how many e-mails I have received from people in distress about parishes or even dioceses attempting to issue edicts which effectively forbid reception of Holy Communion on the tongue because of the risk of contagion (e.g., Swine Flu, H1N1).
Many thanks to our friends at Rorate for digging this up.
I think it is legitimate to suggest that people receive in the hand, but it is not proper to compel them.
Now there is a development…. or rather a development has come to light.
While this is not an official declaration or clarification of the Congregation for Divine Worship, this is nevertheless not nothing.
The means of a letter dated from July 2009 the CDWDS’s Sotto-Segretario Fr. Anthony Ward responded to a question about this matter.
In several entries here and in many e-mails I have go back to the key document in this regard, the CDWDS’s 2004 instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum.
"But Father! But Father!", you might be saying. "Why that document in particular? Don’t you know that permission has been given for Communion to be given on the hand? Don’t you know that many bishops think it is to be preferred?"
Yes, I know those things as facts. But Communion in the hand remains an option, and not even the normative option. Permission was given to do something other than receive directly on the tongue. Reception on the tongue is the actual norm and standard.
This is affirmed by the Holy See.
Here is the text of the letter sent my the Under-Secretary of the CDWDS to the questioner, a layman in the UK asking about a diocese where Communion on the tongue had been restricted because of H1N1:
Prot. N. 655/09/L
Rome, 24 July 2009
This Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments wishes to acknowldge receipt of your letter dated 22 June 2009 regarding the right of the faithful to receive Holy Communion on the tongue.
This Dicastery observes that its Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum (25 March 2004) clearly stipulates that "each of the faithful always has the right to receive Holy Communion on 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 (cf. n. 91).
The Congregation thanks you for bringing this important matter to its attention. Be assured that the appropriate contacts will be made.
May you persevere in faith and love for Our Lord and his Holy Church, and in continued devotion to the Most Blessed Sacrament.
With every good wish and kind regard, I am,
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
(Fr. Anthony Ward, S.M.)
This pretty much clears up that point.
Diocese or parishes or any other institution/community cannot… may not… forbid Communion on the tongue, even in time of contagion.
In your particular circumstances you might hear suggestions and arguments that Communion on the tongue should be curtailed for a time, but it cannot be forbidden or denied.
Clear enough, I think.