The Calgary Communion Show Down

I have pretty much spoken my piece about the issue of attempts to deny the Catholic people their rites in the matter of how to receive Holy Communion, especially when a restriction is placed again Holy Communion on the tongue.

Also, you know that the Holy See’s Congregation for Divine Worship has been sending notes to people assuring them that, yes, Redemptionis Sacramentum 92 is still in force… really… no, really!

Now as I get off an airplane I find in my email inbox copies of correspondence and notes from faithful which scorch my laptop’s screen about a dust up in Calgary, Alberta.

Apparently, the local bishop, His Excellency Most. Rev.Frederick Henry is having a fight with the local presence of the FSSP over the distribution of Communion on the tongue.   The bishop issued "norms" for the Diocese of Calgary which forbid Communion on the tongue because of H1N1.  The FSSP and the people frequenting their Masses are not conforming to his wishes.

Bishop Henry issued the directive to cease distribution of Communion on the tongue following the recommendation from the Medical Officer of Health, whom I assume is a government official.

When Bishop learned that at the FSSP parish people were still receiving Holy Communion on the tongue, he ordered that they not celebrate Mass at all.  He suspended the Extraordinary Form Masses.

He also wrote in one piece of correspondence that

"the current pandemic circumstances do not warrant the non-reception of the Body and Blood of the Lord in favour of a spiritual communion."

Get that?   The Bishop won’t allow non – reception of Holy Communion.   So, you must receive only in the hand, and, apparently, you must receive.

I am not sure how that works if you think you are in the state of mortal sin because you are so angry about being bullied, but… I digress.

At a certain point someone pointed out to His Excellency that a bishop cannot forbid Communion on the tongue.  The text of the e-mail ran like this.  Sadly, the person who wrote this was a bit confused, but the substance of the note is not thereby lessened.

    To: Bishop F.B. Henry

    Your excellency,

    The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), [sic … It was the CDW… Worship, not Faith… but go on…] on 24 July 2009, stated that it is not licit to deny reception of communion on the tongue, despite the current threat of H1N1. Attached is a scan of the CDF’s letter on this matter.

    Through Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,

His Excellency the Bishop of Calgary wrote back this extraordinary form of response.  I am not making this up.

    From: Bishop F.B. Henry
    Date: Mon, Nov 30, 2009 at 12:22 PM
    Subject: RE: Calgary’s Saint Anthony Parish: forbidden to have Mass if communion in the hand is not offered?
    To: …

   I am well aware of what the congregation decided but quite frankly, it is not their call. It is mine

So… this is not the Congregation’s call.


Pretty bold, if you ask me.

The way I understand it, the Holy Father is the Supreme Legislator in the Church.  He has delegated his authority to govern matters liturgical, the "discipline of the sacraments" to the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments.  After the Holy Father, this Congregation is the highest authority when it comes to Latin Rite worship and discipline of the sacraments.  A local priest in a parish, or bishop in a diocese might be able to set aside something from the territorial conference of bishops, but they cannot ignore what a Congregation does.   When the Congregation determines something, it is no longer anyone else’s call (except the Holy Father).

Redemptionis Sacramentum is a juridical document of the CDWDS which had the approval of the Roman Pontiff.   The same Congregation has reaffirmed with specific reference to H1N1 what RS said.

The Calgary Communion Show Down
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105 Responses to The Calgary Communion Show Down

  1. Melody says:

    How awful. It occurs to me that if the FSSP priests are vaccinated against H1N1, and we know they are the only ones distributing, the chance for infection is diminished significantly. In other words, the TLM is safer than the NO, where any person off the street might be distributing holy communion.

  2. Stu says:

    I wonder how His Excellency would react if the FSSP pastor had chosen to defy this ban and simply responded with, “I am well aware of what the Bishop decided but quite frankly, it is not his call. It is mine.”

    How sad.

  3. r7blue1pink says:

    Vaccinated? R U kidding? The vaccine isnt even FDA approved for goodness sakes, do you not read or hear the news?! Regardless that is WAY off topic here.

    The issue is that the Bishop is directly defying CDW & Papal Authority on these matters.
    Id venture to say the Fraternity is being obedient and the matter will be resolved quite quickly.

    I sure hope those folks follow your writing guidelines Father!

  4. Gail F says:

    This is bizarre! Now if there were actually an epidemic going on — if people were actually dying by the thousands, at least I’d understand his concern. But how can he order people to take communion, anyway? If people choose to go to mass but stay in their seats, what’s wrong with that???? But, because at this point people are not dying even in the numbers usual for an average flu season, that just makes this even more inexplicable.

    As far as the CDWDS goes, again, I could understand a bishop telling people not to take communion, even if the CDWDS said they should, if there was a horrible epidemic going on and people were dropping like flies. That makes sense to me, a sort of taking resposibility in an unprecedented situation. But this is the opposite.

  5. jlmorrell says:

    Fr. Z,
    I am curious, if the CDW were interesting in asserting its authority, what measures could it take against this Bishop?

  6. JohnMa says:

    My guess is that the people of Calgary will have a new Bishop as soon as word of this reaches the Holy See.

  7. patrick_f says:

    His excellency is very mistaken. The FSSP answers to the pope in Rome.

    So His Excellency should have gone to rome, in other words the Pope, to request him to make the decision.

    The FSSP is an Apostolic Order, if I am articulating that correctly, so its not his call how they excercise their order, he can make “suggestions”, but kicking and stamping of feet, which this CLEARLY is, is uncalled for, and a disgrace to his office.

    If you ask me, this is more a power play to try to control the FSSP, then anything.

    Perhaps people like this occupying episcopal thrones (who are charging forward with the “no communion on the tongue) would do WELL to read the psalms. Recieving he Lord, is an ACT OF SERVITUDE. The psalms tell us that ” You will not suffer your servant to die”.. That to me, if you believe the scriptures (which you would think a Bishop of all people would) says that, you wont come to harm , if you just believe.

  8. The Astronomer says:

    “I am well aware of what the congregation decided but quite frankly, it is not their call. It is mine.”

    Didn’t Father Baker some years ago point out in Homiletic & Pastoral Review that the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in the USA & Canada was in de facto schism over their persistent defiance of the Holy See? Sad…….

  9. MarkJ says:

    What if someone has H1N1 and sneezes into his hand right before receiving in the hand, and the priest touches his hand? Doesn’t the next person in line get exposed to H1N1?

    It is clear that bishops like Henry are using H1N1 as an excuse to crack down on Liturgical Restorationists… and to ensure that no Traditional Masses are offered in their dioceses anywhere. This is blatantly a schismatic act.

  10. Theodorus says:

    I am absolutely shocked by this bishop’s arrogance, arbitrariness and open defiance against the Holy See. He has no right whatsoever to deny faithful’s right to receive holy communion on tongue, not to mention suspending the Extraordinary Form of Mass. Rome must take measures to protect the legitimate rights of the faithful and the FSSP!

  11. Prof. Basto says:

    Father, there is something wrong with your text.

    It ends abruptly with “The same Congregation has”.

  12. Prof. Basto says:

    As I have said over at Rorate, this is a major issue, and a major cause of scandal.

    This is no longer simply a liturgical problem, a problem of liturgical abuse of power, but, given the Bishop’s reply to the effect that he is the only one calling the shots and he doesn’t care one bit about the commands issued by a Congregation that forms part of the Holy See, this is now a major problem of ecclesiastical discipline.

    An act of conscious rejection of the Holy See’s authority has been materialized on the part of a Bishop, in a very public, explicit way. The e-mail is the smoking gun. It proves that this is a conscious act.

    A Congregation of the Roman Curia is the Pope’s arm, the Pope’s voice.

    The Bishop, full of tyrannical pride, dares to say that it is not the Pope’s call, that it is not the Holy Apostolic See’s call.

    In his deluded mind, it is his call. This man should be sacked immediately, that’s what should happen.

    And the Papal chirograph sacking him should be made public at once in the bulletin of the Holy See Press Office.

    Only then will this bishop and his colleagues who so often simply decide to disregard the authority of Rome pause and tremble.

    This bishop is acting like this because he is sure that there will be no punishment, no negative consequence.

    So, certain of impunity, he can damn well disregard the authority of the Pope and his Curia, and do as he pleases.

    If the Pope fails to act to restore discipline in an exemplary fashion, then such omission will be a dis-service to ecclesiastical unity and to the fundamental principle of ecclesiastical obedience.

    The Pope, Christ’s Vicar and Sucessor of St. Peter, is the foundation and principle unity of the Church. But the Holy See has been lax with discipline, and such leniency has made bishops feel as if they were all-powerful, as if they could simply ignore Rome as they pleased. This is a totally distorted understanding of a Bishop’s legitimate authority.

    So, this is not just about the TLM and yet another whip in the suffering back of the traditionalist faithful, it is also a blatant disregard to ecclesiastical discipline.

    I mean, the Bishop declared very clearly and in no ambiguous terms that he doesn’t care one bit about the Roman Congregation’s decision, because, quite frankly, Rome is not running the show, he is.

    This is an absurdity and a true scandal.

    And this bishop’s attitude is the result of the last 40 years of hell. Mary Most Holy, Queen of the Apostles, help us!

  13. quietbeginning says:

    Such in-your-face temerity is one of the fruits of collegialism—not, in this instance, to be confused with that sanguine, idiotic Vatican II construct, “collegiality” (although the latter term assuredly paved the way for the former).

  14. Tom Ryan says:

    Realizing full well that I run the risk of drawing fire here… I Googled Bp. Henry and read a little about him and looked at his Diocesan website. While I don’t like at all what he’s done in this instance, he seems to be “one of the good guys” for the most part.

    I found this:

    “In 2005, Calgary Bishop Frederick Henry mused that then-prime-minister Paul Martin might be candidate for excommunication over his government’s plan to legalize same-sex marriage.” Source:

    And I also read a few articles written by him and liked them very much. He seems to be fighting Canadian pols, the mainstream media and relativists. He is also dealing with a child pornography scandal involving one of his brother bishops. That has to be very difficult.

    With respect folks, the good bishop needs our prayers more than our criticism. He may just be tired of being shot at from all sides – hence his terse response.

  15. Tom, the bishop’s conservative morality does not justify his assault on Traditioin. Read up on the difference between traditional Catholics and neo-conservative Catholics (aka “neo-Catholics” or “neo-Caths”). Here’s a good primer:

  16. catholicuspater says:

    I hope it gets resolved quickly. Although I’m in no way an SSPX’er, nor do I approve of disobedience, but if the Bishop gets away with this, I can just see our SSPX friends correctly pointint out that, “if this is justice in the Conciliar Church, you can understand why we’re reluctant to deal with bishops who create laws out of thin air.”

    Let’s hope the Bishop will back down fast or else the confidence of the laity will be badly shaken, and I might add, there are others who are watching this situation very closely.

    So, who’s going to win at this High Noon showdown? Is the good FSSP gonna be ruthlessly shot down in broad daylight by a out-of-control Bishop who’s making up the rules as he goes along? Or will an ecclesiastical marshall step in and save the day?

  17. JosephMary says:

    I did write a respectful note to the bishop and asked if he could reconsider the ban.

    As far as bishops doing what they wish with impunity, that has been going on for 40 years. There are dioceses that have been devastated as we all know and nothing is done until that age 75 comes around or the civil authorities pin something on the bishop, or a scandal involving him forces him to resign early.

    Bp. Henry had stood strong in some other areas so this is disappointing. But I know my own archbishop, while also strong in many areas and often a voice ‘in the wilderness’ is not crazy about the TLM. He did allow the FSSP into the diocese and their ‘community’ is not an official parish but the TLM is not taught at the seminary and I only know of one parish that has it once a month outside of what the FSSP provides. In other words, my archbishop is not a fan of the TLM; he allows the FSSP because he is a good shepherd and understands that there are many of his flock who do desire it and so has provided this limited access.

  18. Theodorus says:

    “With respect folks, the good bishop needs our prayers more than our criticism. He may just be tired of being shot at from all sides – hence his terse response.”

    That’s no excuse for his irresponsible behavior! The bishop is not only being publicly disobedient to the Holy Father but also doing great injustice to the faithful. If he doesn’t have the mental and physical capability to handle his job, then he should resign for the good of the Church.

  19. “Didn’t Father Baker some years ago point out in Homiletic & Pastoral Review that the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in the USA & Canada was in de facto schism over their persistent defiance of the Holy See? Sad…….”

    He’s not the first to say it. This has been the conventional wisdom in some corners of the Vatican for years.

    Given the likelihood that someone there reads this blog regularly (or so I’m told), the phone lines between Rome and Calgary are probably already heating up. It’s just a matter of time, and a formal query to the dicastery by a member of the faithful of Calgary at this point.

    I don’t think he’ll be fired over this, but I’d settle for a lesson in humility.

  20. EXCHIEF says:

    Shouldn’t such intentional and knowing disobedience lead to dismissal? I don’t mean to be facitious,but maybe a requirement for ordination as a priest and elevation to Bishop ought to be prior military service. At least the military understands what authority means and what it requires!

  21. Mitchell NY says:

    Father couldn’t you poke around and use some of your connections to get a feel about how Rome is reacting to this? We are all probably more interested in that anyways. We need to know our rights are going to be protected or why bother in the future. Why does the Catholic Faith have to be such a battlefield with these Bishops? They had our obedience when they suppressed the 1962 Missal for the most part. They abused that to the point of losing it completely. Has the Mass been indeed suspended, or threatened? Has it stopped? If so I wish I non Catholic, who doesn’t have the obedience syndrome to deal with, would publically pull the rug out from him on this one, somehow, someway. If Rome does nothing, people will leave in disgust. And for anyone who thinks that this is too harsh, remember all the comments and sayings about ROT in the Church. It was meant for someone,and I did not invent that slavishly accurate adjective.

  22. quietbeginning says:

    I live in the Diocese of Shreveport and have no Latin Mass to attend, the nearest one being over 100 miles away. I ask all on this blog for your prayers that we in this diocese eventually have access to TLM.

  23. Hamburglar says:

    Could this eventually escalate putting the Bishop up against the Roman Rota?

  24. Being one of those who wrote to you Father, thank you for posting this. I have written and left a voice mail message for the bishop, written to the Charge d’affairs at the Apostolic Nunciature in Ottawa (we are without a Nuncio at the moment…convenient, eh?) and I have written a contact in the CDWS. I’ve been told to “stay tuned.” So, keep up the pressure folks, this open dissent by the bishops of Canada has gone on far too long and must come to an end!

    Perhaps Bishop Henry has done us a favour?

  25. I now consider Bishop Fred Henry the fifth SSPX bishop. He has certainly proven the SSPX correct about the dangers of subjection to non-traditional bishops.

  26. kolbe1019 says:

    They should excommunicate him. The scandal alone demands firm consequences. If something is not done you can be sure several other Bishops will force their liberal agenda down our throats (no pun intended). A firm hand in this instance will make it clear that the Church may be wounded but she is still militant.

    In a way we should respect the Bishop for being honest. Others just play us for fools and play ignorant.

  27. stgemma_0411 says:

    Another Canadian Bishop, the Archbishop of Halifax, has also forbidden reception on the tongue.

    I attempted to seek an explanation, as I am under the authority of His Excellency, Archbishop Anthony Mancini. The response from the Diocesan liturgist was that so long as it wasn’t a permanent removal, the Bishop was within his right to do so. The document Summorum Pontificum combined with the document from the CDW, to me, makes it clear that the Bishop does not, or they would have said so. This isn’t about Liturgy, this is about the reception of Communion. The Bishop may be the head Liturgist of his particular diocese, but he does not govern the reception of Communion.

  28. Hidden One says:

    I wish that Cardinal Cañizares Llovera might *happen* to suddenly make a whirlwind tour of Canada, personally reeducating a number of bishops.

    Perhaps a Mass in the Extraordinary Form in Calgary – remember the rights of Princes of the Church, after all – would be fitting.

  29. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Prof. Basto:

    Fr. Z’s words do cut off at an unusual point, but that may be from being livid at the bishop’s actions. I am still in shock. Un. Believe. Able.

    I’m keeping the FSSP, the Bishop, and the Holy See in my prayers for a swift resolution to this.

  30. jashley says:

    Would stgemma_0411 — please email me at jashley (at) netscape dot ca

    I am also under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Halifax.
    John Ashley
    Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

  31. My fellow Canadians,

    We are without a Papal Nuncio at the present time, but may I suggest:

    Monsignor Luca Lorusso
    Chargés d’affaires
    Apostolic Nunciature to Canada
    724 Manor Avenue
    Ottawa, Ontario K1M 0E3


  32. Central Valley says:

    “Not their call, but mine”…..A fruit of Vatican II – total rebellion. A parish in my diocese of Fresno that I know of will not distribute communion on the tongue, my family has fell victim . Like most abuse issues in this diocese when addressed to the bishop there is no response. If only Rome would drop thehammer and soon.

  33. My son Tom lived in Calgary some few years ago and we attended Mass in the “wealthiest church” in Calgary (the name escapes me). Some of the parishioners flew an FSSP priest up from Nebraska once or twice a month until, through parishioner appeals, Bishop Henry allowed the priest to reside in the rectory and say the noon Mass(TLM) each Sunday and hear confessions. Things went very smoothly and it appears the FSSP by now have their own parish. Bishop Henry does stand up when challenged by the secular authority as well. When the Ottowa and Alberta (the province in which Calgary is situated) authorities ordered all hospitals to allow abortions and other sinful practices to occur, Bp. Henry met with them to announce he would shut all Catholic hospitals and clinics in the province down. The governments backed down.

  34. Spanish lesson:

    Papa = the Pope
    Papita = little Pope

    btw papita is also Spanish for a french fry

    I’m just trying to figure out why bishop Henry is trying act like a french fry!


  35. wanda says:

    kneeling catholic! lol! Great one and a real laugh out loud, I needed that! Thank you!

  36. ejcmartin says:

    st. gemma 411,
    Our Archbishop (St. John’s) posted similar rules to those of the Halifax Archdiocese. However after taking heed of Father Z’s words to be “charitable” a group (lead by my lovely wife) approached the Archbishop and asked if it would be possible, with the priest’s approval, to still receive on the tongue as long as we went to the back of the line. The Archbishop was fine with that.
    BTW,one of the priests of the Apostolic Nunciature of Canada is Dr. Robert Ryan. He is orignally from Newfoundland and celebrates the TLM daily when he is home in the summer. Based upon my limited discussion with him I feel he would be most supportive of those wishing to receive on the tongue.

  37. stgemma_0411 says:

    Good to know, ejcmartin. Thanks for the information.

  38. jim123 says:

    Bishop Henry’s point does not seem to be addressed properly on this blog. IF the right to receive the Eucharist on the tongue is absolute, and cannot be denied under any circumstances whatsoever, then it cannot be right to refuse such reception. BUT if the right can be temporarily put in abeyance because of extraordinary circumstances, who more appropriate to decide this than each local Bishop?

    As far as I can tell, the Vatican has not established that such a right is absolute. The FSSP seem to have decided, on their own initiative, that the right is absolute.

  39. maynardus says:

    For crying out loud, people, don’t you know how to play the game?

    Watch the bishops and learn! Rome tells them: “thou shalt/shalt not…” and the bishops simply ignore the edict and proceed on their own course and timetable. They never bother to raise a lot of hullabaloo unless it seems like there is no other recourse, and then they stonewall until the question is moot. This is how they expect US to behave.

    I hate to say it but it was very foolish to pick a fight with the bishop in this instance. All that was necessary was to ignore his silly public service announcement in silence. No response… no difficult questions, no notoriety, no war-of-words. Instead, it seems like the poor F.S.S.P. priests were really put in the middle by this naive (or hot-headed) correspondent. What can one possibly hope to achieve by publicly embarassing a bishop?

  40. Warren says:

    Bishop Henry is a good Bishop, in the past often standing alone against unfaithful Catholic Canadian politicians, the dreaded HRCs, militant secularists and gay lobbyists. He always has good reasons for his actions. As venerable a custom as receiving Communion on the tongue surely is, the Bishop, charged with the care of his flock body and soul, has the right to make prudent decisions in extraordinary circumstances.

  41. Breck says:

    Please let this business simmer down. Bishop Henry is indeed one of the good guys in standing up to our secular culture in Canada. The FSSP are also good guys — I belong to their parish in Vancouver. There must be a face-saving solution somewhere that won’t harm either party. Pray that it may be found ASAP.

  42. Theodorus says:

    “…the Bishop…has the right to make prudent decisions in extraordinary circumstances.”

    Please tell me who gives him the right to suspend the Extraordinary Form Masses.

  43. dcs says:

    Warren writes:
    As venerable a custom as receiving Communion on the tongue surely is, the Bishop, charged with the care of his flock body and soul, has the right to make prudent decisions in extraordinary circumstances.

    Not when those “prudent decisions” contradict the decisions of a higher authority.

    jim123 writes:
    As far as I can tell, the Vatican has not established that such a right is absolute.

    Everyone has the right to receive on the tongue. That right is not absolute because the right to receive Holy Communion is not absolute. However:

    [E]ach of the faithful ALWAYS has the right to receive Holy Communion on the TONGUE [Redemptionis Sacramentum 92, my emphases]

    That’s about as absolute as it gets in the Church.

    maynardus writes:
    Instead, it seems like the poor F.S.S.P. priests were really put in the middle by this naive (or hot-headed) correspondent.

    The Mass had already been suspended when the correspondent wrote to the bishop. You can read the entire exchange at Rorate:

  44. moon1234 says:

    Bishop Henry’s point does not seem to be addressed properly on this blog. IF the right to receive the Eucharist on the tongue is absolute, and cannot be denied under any circumstances whatsoever, then it cannot be right to refuse such reception. BUT if the right can be temporarily put in abeyance because of extraordinary circumstances, who more appropriate to decide this than each local Bishop?

    The right is absolute when communion is allowed. The only “nuclear” option the Bishop has is to suspend the reception of communion by the laity. That is his option. Communion is only required twice a year. The rest of the year it is optional.

  45. dcs says:

    Communion is only required twice a year.

    Actually only once, during the Easter season.

  46. tired student says:

    I know this is somewhat OT, but I was refused Holy Communion today at the Oratory of Montreal (ordinary form). I knelt at the rail and opened my mouth and tongue, only to be rebuffed and passed over. The priest did not even bother to offer me his blessing. I now realize that the Archdiocese of Montreal must be under the same episcopally-imposed restrictions as the Diocese of Calgary. Since I most often attend a TLM church, I was not aware that any edict had been written. Nothing has changed in my parish; the parishoners receive kneeling and on the tongue as usual. Bishop Henry’s shutdown of the FSSP makes me wonder if other TLM churches will be closed for “noncompliance”.

    I understand and agree with Pope Benedict’s decision to create two forms of one rite rather than two rites. Still, Bishop Henry’s decision as well as my experience today suggests that the extraordinary form will require some juricidial independence from the ordinary form to prevent the closure of Masses and the unnecessary removal of people from their form of worship.

  47. doozer125 says:

    “I am well aware of what the congregation decided but quite frankly, it is not their call. It is mine.”

    That’s pretty egotistical on his part.

  48. Athelstan says:

    Let’s face facts: Rome has been singularly reluctant to sack – “accept the resignation of” – a bishop or even discipline one publicly if it can be helped, and only in the most serious circumstances. Whatever our friends at Commonweal may think, episcopal collegiality is not completely dead.

    Given that Bishop Henry has cut an otherwise standup profile, I would expect instead a quiet nudge to revise his position quietly. Only if he digs in his heels will Rome have to decide if this is a fight they want to pick – in which case, of course, I hope they pick it. But the ideal is to have him do the right thing without a fuss, and make sure quietly that the rest of the episcopal conference gets the message. And make sure terna candidates for future openings know what the sheet music is going forward and can carry the tune.

  49. vox borealis says:

    Tired student,

    The “rules” in Montreal are rather fuzzy. The archbishop has released guidelines discouraging communion on the tongue, but not outright forbidding it. The priest at my parish—I heard him in the sacristy talking with the EMHCs about this—told the EMHCs not to make a fuss if someone wanted to receive on the tongue, though he did have several announcements made promoting the new guidelines.

    It sounds like the Oratory boys have taken it one step further. Interesting, given that the Oratory is supposed to be a healing shrine! BTW, I have not to the Oratory in years…do they still habitually skip one of the readings during Sunday mass?

  50. Mike says:

    What is odd is that in the National CCCB H1N1 protocol, the “forbidding” of the reception of communion on the tongue is not until a later “Stage 2″ where there is serious and widespread pandemic (we are currently at “Stage 1,” where there is to be hand sanitization by the priest and EMHC’s and no sitting holy water). So this “ban” on reception of communion on the tongue is even beyond what the CCCB protocol calls for.

  51. just a few links for anyone interested. Albertan FSSP website. Edmonton (my diocese) archbishop Flu Guidelines by ArchBp. Richard Smith who was elected the CCCB Vice-President.

  52. tzard says:

    Well, I hate to tell you folks, but this is not as clear-cut as it may seem.

    And the good Bishop may have an out – or at best an explanation.

    Email is typically unsigned (I’m talking electronic signatures here). It might not be the Bishop himself who answered the Email, it may be an assistant who perhaps does a run-through of them first to filter out the nutters? It can also be forged (either before receipt) by the person reporting the Bishops’ response. I’m not trying to cast aspersions, I’m just saying that *copies* of Email would not stand up in a court of law. The Bishop could just deny he sent it and that could very well be true.

    I am also aware that in some dioceses, certain diocesan departments run amok – speaking in the name of the Bishop when they have no authority to do so. ( In my local diocese, it has historically been (surprise surprise) the department in charge of Liturgical norms). Things have been better lately, but I do know a history of letters to the Bishop never reaching him.

    This needs to be cleared-up.

  53. Joseph says:

    I live in the diocese next door to bishop Henry’s. As for what I know about him, he is just showing his true colors. He is perhaps not as much a politician as most others up here, but he is no friend of traditional Catholic faith. That he let the FSSP into his diocese was to show, that he is a true liberal and does not mind traditional Catholics, being quasi multicultural.
    I think to receive Holy communion on the tongue is more or less “prohibited” across Canada. But in the face of the fact, the extraordinary ministers “man handle” every todler and baby in what they think is a blessing, the above order is very hypocritical.

  54. Re: joseph on “man-handling” blessings…
    I was recently wrangled into EOMC at the local Catholic College Chapel and just put the host into the mother’s hand while her child looked there at me. Any blessing i give is just as good as the mother’s.

    At least during our catechisis for EOMC, we were told to NEVER make the sign of the cross like a priest would. What would be the proper action and prayer for an EOMC with someone asking for a blessing?

  55. Re: joseph on “man-handling” blessings…
    I was recently wrangled into EOMC at the local Catholic College Chapel and just put the host into the mother’s hand while her child looked there at me. Any blessing i give is just as good as the mother’s.

    At least during our catechisis for EOMC, we were told to NEVER make the sign of the cross like a priest would. What would be the proper action and prayer for an EOMC with someone asking for a blessing?

    This question may also warrant a longer answer than it deserves here, but what would be the proper action kneeling during the Eucharistic Prayers during an NO Mass? I was told in my RCIA that one should remain kneeling from the beginning of the prayers to the Agnus Dei and the reception of Communion. What i see is people standing before because of where the sign of peace is placed. Which would be correct? (The reason I ask is because the chapel I attend for Mass also “forbids” reception kneeling although i have without problem but Joseph’s comments about tongue reception being banned in Canada jogged my memory). I am just curious. Fr, feel free to remove this if it is too off-topic.

  56. Tom Ryan says:

    I’m happy it’s come to a show down.

  57. isabella says:

    OK, it’s 130 AM and I’m brain dead by now but didn’t Fr Z just have a thread about whether or not we believe anything happens during the Consecration?

    Apparently some priests and bishops do not. If the bread really becomes the Body of Christ, then how can you get H1N1 or anything else? Plus my priest has NEVER made contact with my tongue; I have to stand because of my knee, but I scrunch down, tilt my head back, open my mouth wide and try to make it easy for the priest so there is no danger of dropping Jesus because I move or do something stupid.

    He also has been trained on HOW to distribute Communion on the tongue – maybe this is what the rest should focus on. If people (lay and ordained) don’t believe they are receiving/holding the Body of Christ, then they should have the courage of their convictions and become Protestant.

    Sorry to sound grouchy, it just seems like this nonsense is spreading and I’m afraid it will arrive here.

  58. Tom Ryan says:

    It would be interesting to survey the diocese to determine if His Excellency still permits reception of the Precious Blood from a common cup and still allows amateurs (EMHCs) to “assist” with the distribution of Communion.

    Or, is this just an opportunistic attempt to enforce Communion in the Hand?

    the real Tom Ryan

  59. Norah says:

    The original letter was dated 24 July 2009

    Email: “on 24 July 2009, stated that it is not licit to deny reception of communion on the tongue, despite the current threat of H1N1. Attached is a scan of the CDF’s letter on this matter.”

    Contrary to what the email said the letter from the CDW does not refer to ‘the currect threat of HINI’ it merely refers to reception of communion on the tongue. How do we know that the letter sent to the CDW in June 09 made any mention of the possible denial of reception of communion on the tongue in the case of the threat of HINI?

    I know nothing of the Curia but common sense tells me that when the WHO declares a pandemic and the bishop of a diocese issues a directive that methods which aim to control the spread of the pandemic are to be implemented surely the CDW in Rome is not going to override the bishop and his on the ground knowledge of the health situation.

  60. james says:

    It is my understanding that the letter of 24 July 2009 was a response to a parishioner in the Diocese of Portsmouth UK in response to the same H1N1 restrictions. I believe the FSSP apostolate there is now practicing Spiritual Communion, to remain obedient. This same default solution [Spritual Communion in order to remain obedient] was denied the FSSP in Calgary by the bishop.

  61. C. says:

    isabella, the accidents of bread and wine remain after Consecration. More reading here.

  62. bookworm says:

    “If the bread really becomes the Body of Christ, then how can you get H1N1 or anything else?”

    Because the physical appearance and “accidents” of the bread remain even though the “substance” has changed. Ask any alcoholic priest or layperson who cannot receive the Precious Blood, or any person with celiac disease who cannot receive a Host containing gluten without becoming ill. (The latter group may receive the Precious Blood only, or receive specially made Hosts with only a slight trace of gluten, just enough to make it valid matter but not enough to make them sick.)

    That being said, I’d like to know what local bishops did about this issue during the 1918 (Spanish), 1957 (Asian), and 1968 (Hong Kong) flu pandemics, all of which occurred when Communion could still only be received on the tongue. I believe that during the 1918 pandemic some civil authorities actually tried to order churches to close completely, but many bishops did not go along with such orders, saying that public prayer and reception of the sacraments was even MORE necessary in a time of such public crisis. For this bishop to shut down the FSSP Mass completely over what has been described as the “Comet Kohoutek of pandemics” (google that if you don’t know what I’m referring to) seems like a gross overreaction.

    It pains me to see either side treat Communion on the tongue vs. in the hand as a “fight to the death” issue. If only we could approach it in the way St. Paul advised early Christians to deal with issues that were not matters of sin but still troubled or scandalized others.

    If we followed St. Paul’s approach, people who normally receive in the hand would receive on the tongue so as not to tempt their more “traditional” bretheren into irreverence, while those who normally receive on the tongue would in this particular instance receive in the hand, or not at all, so as not to tempt their more “progressive” bretheren into disobedience to their bishop.

  63. Anthony OPL says:

    Perhaps it’s time to restore the former names “Sacred Congregation”, lest more bishops fail to get the message?

  64. C. says:

    Norah, the bishop said he was aware of the congregation’s decision. He did not dispute the context. So whether the congregation’s decision was described accurately or not, the bishop raised the stakes considerably by appearing to deny the authority of the congregation and implicitly claiming that he should be obeyed above Rome. That, at least, was his call.

    tzard, the bishop is free to disown the e-mail sent from his account. I think by now he knows what was published and where.

    Trevor Sliwkanich, are the Canadian Bishops pulling another “Winnipeg Statement” against Redemptionis Sacramentum?

  65. AndyMo says:

    I was told in my RCIA that one should remain kneeling from the beginning of the prayers to the Agnus Dei and the reception of Communion. -Trevor Sliwkanich

    Your RCIA teachers were almost right. We always stand for common prayer, which in this case applies to the Lord’s Prayer. The Sign of Peace (if done) is also standing, and they you should kneel again for the Agnus Dei until it is time for you to receive, if you choose to do so. So basically you kneel as your RCIA director told you, except you take a break to stand for the Lord’s Prayer and (optional) Sign of Peace.

  66. joebkathy says:

    “Apparently, the local bishop, His Excellency Most. Rev.Frederick Henry is having a fight with the local presence of the FSSP over the distribution of Communion on the tongue.”

    Most Rev. Henry when referencing the Mass calls it a “Eucharistic Banquet.”

    FSSP when referencing the Mass calls it the “Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.”

    One Rite, two different ways of defining the bedrock essence of Mass.

    I wonder how St. Paul would have solved this in the churches he established.
    Lets see here… :”SWINE FLU” All Jewish members receive in the hand, all Gentiles to receive on the tongue kneeling. After all this is the dreaded “SWINE FLU” Pandemic!

    Maybe our Pope has an answer? Oh, that’s right, he already instructed the Bishops. Oh well!

  67. Glen M says:

    I wonder what the motivation for this action by Bishop Henry is. There is no pandemic of swine flu, no evidence linking COTT to increased cases, the Spanish flu of 1919 did not kill more Catholics than Protestants and I haven’t seen documents stating FSSP parishioners have more flu than others. It worries me that Bishop Henry is considered a leader among Canadian bishops and this action may spread…like a virus. The Canadian bishops never signed on to Humanae Vitae either.

  68. bookworm says:

    “I wonder how St. Paul would have solved this in the churches he established.
    Lets see here… :”SWINE FLU” All Jewish members receive in the hand, all Gentiles to receive on the tongue kneeling.”

    No, not exactly. He would have simply encouraged BOTH Jewish and Gentile Christians to maintain an attitude of charity toward one another, and NOT to assume that those who followed the opposite practice were less pious or more “backward” than they were.

    One of C.S. Lewis’ “Screwtape Letters” has an interesting take on this principle. Lewis applied it to the difference between “High” and “Low” Anglican practice in his day (before and during WWII):

    “We have quite removed from men’s minds what that pestilent fellow Paul used to teach about food and other unessentials-namely, that the human without scruples should always give in to the human with scruples. You would think they could not fail to see the application. You would expect to find the “low” churchman genuflecting and crossing himself lest the weak conscience of his “high” brother should be moved to irreverence, and the “high” one refraining from these exercises lest he should betray his “low” brother into idolatry. And so it would have been but for our ceaseless labour. Without that, the variety of usage within the Church of England might have become a positive hotbed of charity and humility.”

    Perhaps the “variety of usage” within the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church (TLM vs. NO) could still become a “positive hotbed of charity and humility” if only the clergy and laity allow it to be so. Remember, the issue is not so much what each group does, as the ATTITUDE they have toward their bretheren in the other group.

    If TLM/Communion on the tongue Catholics look down their noses at NO/Communion in the hand Catholics, OR vice versa, what good has their vaunted “piety” or “enlightenment” done them? If EITHER group insists that they would rather not receive Communion at all, or not allow others to receive it, than receive in a Church-approved manner they don’t happen to personally like, perhaps they need to gain a little perspective?

  69. Seraphic Spouse says:

    Tired Student: I am so sorry you were refused communion.

    That happened to me once as a child–not because I was kneeling, but because I was overlooked or a stranger in the parish (my family was traveling), and I never forgot it. It felt terrible.

    So–I am sorry. I know how much that hurts.

  70. Re: germs

    If your tongue or hand doesn’t disappear when touching the Eucharist, why would germs be instantly zotted? They’re not vampires or demons. They’re ordinary parts of God’s creation. God loves germs, one imagines, since He made so many of them.

    Re: FDA approval

    Does Canada have an FDA?

    Re: time of plague

    I believe that most people were dispensed from attending Mass during the 1918 epidemics. Public gatherings were discouraged. But of course most bishops did try to keep the churches open — just not full of people. I’ll try and find some info — doubtless there were all sorts of different courses pursued.

  71. dcs says:

    I was recently wrangled into EOMC at the local Catholic College Chapel and just put the host into the mother’s hand while her child looked there at me. Any blessing i give is just as good as the mother’s.

    It actually isn’t, since the mother has authority over the child and you do not. A mother’s blessing isn’t merely the blessing of a layman.

  72. AM says:

    NB the situation in Hamilton and London is exactly the same as in Montreal and Halifax as quoted.

    I know a parish where (with the Bishop’s agreement I believe) those who receive on the tongue continue to do so, from the priest only and at the “end of the line”.

    But I know a parish where (perhaps also with the Bishop’s agreement) the priest refuses absolutely to adminster onto the tongue, even to the point of refusing a communicant during the rite.

    Most people are obeying the request to avoid hand contact at the Peace, also (as I have observed).

  73. MarkJ says:

    Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart. – Hebrews 12:3

  74. I live in the diocese of Calgary (but not in Calgary), and have found the H1N1 precautions very distressing. I choose to receive on the tongue, but can’t any longer.

    I’m not sure what to make of Bishop Henry. Until recently, I’ve thought he was an excellent Bishop- not afraid to stand up for what the church teaches. But this, along with a few other recent decisions are making me reconsider that position.

    Re FDA Approval- Canada’s equivalent has approved the H1N1 vaccine and since October people in Canada can get it- it’s increased the H1N1 hysteria.

    I used to live in the Diocese of Saskatoon- they have instituted the same H1N1 protocols, and I have friends who’ve been refused when they try to receive on the tongue. The difficulty in Saskatoon is that the Bishop was transferred this summer, and Rome has yet to approve a new one, so a committee made the decision and people don’t know who to appeal it to.

  75. TomB says:

    I wonder which dioceses have also banned the hand-shaking, hugging, kissing “sign of peace” out of fear of the flu.

  76. vox borealis says:


    To its credit, the archdiocese of Montreal has suspended the “sign of peace” along with discouraging communion on the tongue.

  77. Oleksander says:

    “His excellency is very mistaken. The FSSP answers to the pope in Rome.”

    Actually, not that it justifies what the Calgary bishop has done, the FSSP answer to the local bishop, at whose invitation they are there. In order for a priest to celebrate (public.. I think) Mass in a diocese outside of his own he must have permission from the local bishop since he is the chief of the local church, this applies to other bishops as well – I think even the pope asks permission when visiting other dioceses as a formality.

  78. JaneC says:


    To his great credit, Cardinal Mahoney of Los Angeles has requested a “nod of the head” if the sign of peace is done, but he has not said anything about various methods of receiving the Eucharist.

  79. Re: refraining from Communion

    Apparently this is a punishment for the church members.

    But how does the bishop know people are refraining from Communion because they don’t think Communion in the hand is valid? It’s a lot more likely that they’re refraining because they have uncharitable thoughts toward the bishop. (Or possibly they all went out to breakfast before Mass.)

    I’d rather assume the sin of wrath, or the breaking of fasting regulations, than the sin of schism or heresy, myself.

    Anyway, things are just as likely to get germy with Communion in the hand. We keep getting told that hand sanitation is practically as important as not breathing sickness on people. So logically, you’d be smarter to ban all lay Communion before you banned one reception method or another.

    Shrug. I know it’s harder to stop an epidemic than to keep it from getting started. But if it gets so bad that Communion has to be banned, it’s already so bad you ought to close down the churches.

    If any bishop’s that afraid of someone spreading H1N1 germs by mouth, you should realize that he’s already spreading them to everyone sitting anywhere around him, whether he coughs or sneezes or whether he just breathes normally. Communion doesn’t infect as many people as mere attendance does. So close the churches and be done with it; or stop making symbolic gestures that have no practical use and only get people’s backs up.

  80. Henry Edwards says:

    It seems to me that, perhaps because of lack of information, most commenters so far have missed the point in dispute.

    It is not about a person’s right to receive communion on the tongue, or otherwise. No one has such an absolute right; a bishop would certainly have the authority to interdict Holy Communion if it were proved to be spreading a deadly disease (which is not my understanding in this case).

    In a certain sense, it is more about a person’s right not to receive communion at all.

    To explain … I understand that, because the FSSP priest and congregation felt that communion on the hand was an unacceptable alternative, the people did not receive communion at all for a couple of weeks.

    Then the bishop ordered that communion on the hand be offered, insisting that omission of holy communion by the people was not acceptable. The priest declined, and the bishop responded by suspended the publicly scheduled TLM.

    Of course, the communion by the priest consummates the sacrifice of the Mass, and communion by the people is unnecessary. Those of us who are old enough will remember pre-Vatican II Masses, especially daily ones, at which the priest did not approach the altar rail to distribute communion to the people.

    Of course, one can understand that this possibility might offend some contemporary sensibilities, when many regard the Mass not as a sacrifice but as a meal, so communion is surely its highpoint (other than for some less sophisticated types who may regard the preceding period of fellowship and camaraderie as an even higher point).

  81. r7blue1pink says:

    “:”SWINE FLU” All Jewish members receive in the hand, all Gentiles to receive on the tongue kneeling. After all this is the dreaded “SWINE FLU” Pandemic!”

    Of course we know there was No SWINE FLU around then, the Jews were forbidden from eating pork!

    That made me

  82. r7blue1pink says:

    FDA /H1N1 vax redux..

    The Canadian approval process is just as quirky as the US approval. The Canadian h1n1 shots have the squalene and the US vaccines dont.We dont allow squalene in our shots at all because of the probs we had with the Anthrax and Gulf war syndrome.

    The FDA here is just starting clinical trials for the H1N1 vaccines and its with a limited number of people. Not quite sure if the Canadians have gone thru clinical trials- and for how long. Matter of fact, the vax has not been approved for children under 4, no for pregnant women. U should see the amount of pregnant women that have miscarried as a result of the injections. Its incredible.

    The side effects of the h1n1 vaccines are far greater than the risk of contracting it. Its not pandemic like the hysterics would like us to think. The CDC here has stopped doing testing for it and they have fudged the numbers so badly to make it look as if it were an epidemic. If they stopped tracking it, where are they geting their numbers from? DUH..

    Childrens hospital in PA had some 400 children hospitalized with flu-like sysmptoms, some severe. Even though the CDC stopped tracking the h1n1, the pa hospital decided to run the tests on these kids anyhow. The results showed that the majority was NOT h1n1 but a super-cell rhinovirus…something that has to run its course.

    CBS news did a huge expose on the h1n1 hysteria. its worthy of googling and seeing. H1N1 has been blown way out of proportion.

    Dr Sheri Tenepenny has great information on her site too. She has been an advocate for safety on vaccinations for years. She’s also Catholic.

    Common sense when it comes to staying healthy and being out in public. Same for @ Mass. I wonder how many people have actually gotten sick via rec’ving on the tongue. I would think that more ppl would get ill from rec’vg in the hand from a Extraordinary minister- I have seen some with disgustingly filthy hands while distributing Communion.

  83. pseudomodo says:

    Contrast this with the directives of Vancouver’s Archbishop:

    Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

    In an effort to be prudent, and after consulting with medical experts, the Archdiocese of Vancouver is making some temporary provisions to help prevent the spread of the H1N1 virus.
    Flu viruses are ordinarily transmitted from person to person through respiratory fluids by close physical contact or contact with inanimate objects. According to the Chief Medical Officer for the Vancouver Coastal Health Region, hand washing is the best way to reduce the risk of infection with flu viruses. In addition to this basic hygiene, I ask everyone to adopt the following practices.

    1. If you suspect you might be infected with the flu virus, stay at home and do not attend Mass until you feel healthy. Missing Mass due to illness is not sinful; it is prudent and shows respect for your brothers and sisters.
    2. At the Sign of Peace, you may choose to make a slight bow, without offering your hand.
    3. Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion must wash their hands before and after administering Holy Communion, whether at Mass or when bringing Holy Communion to the sick. The use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers, even during Mass, is acceptable for all ministers of Holy Communion, including the priest and deacon. If a blessing is offered to those who do not receive Holy Communion, there should be no physical contact.
    4. Reception of the Blessed Sacrament on the hand might be a way to reduce the possibility of flu virus transmission, BUT THE COMMUNICANT IS ALWAYS FREE TO RECEIVE HOLY COMMUNION ON THE TONGUE. (emphasis added)
    5. Holy Communion from the chalice should be discontinued for the present.

    Thank you taking these steps that can help avoid spreading the H1N1 virus.

    With cordial best wishes and the assurance of my prayers for you and your families, I am
    Sincerely yours in Christ,

    Most Reverend J. Michael Miller, CSB
    Archbishop of Vancouver

  84. irishgirl says:

    Kudos to the Archbishop of Vancouver!

    Very sensible directives, full of common sense.

  85. Bede says:


    Thanks for posting that. The difference is pretty stark, isn’t it?

  86. thomas tucker says:

    Henry- it is a meal. And a sacrifice.

  87. MichaelJ says:

    Does a Bishop have the authority to impose requirements above and beyond what the Church herself requires? Could a Bishop, for example require that all Catholics in his jurisdiction attend a daily Mass instead of just on Sunday’s and Holy Days of Obligation?
    I am not sure of the answer, but if such an action does, in fact, exceed a Bishop’s authority, I do not see how Bishop Henry’s apparent insistence that the faithful receive (instead of making Spiritual Communion) can be anything other than an abuse of authority.

  88. bruno says:

    My fellow Canadians,

    We are without a Papal Nuncio at the present time, but may I suggest:

    Monsignor Luca Lorusso
    Chargés d’affaires
    Apostolic Nunciature to Canada
    724 Manor Avenue
    Ottawa, Ontario K1M 0E3
    I have received a reply from Monsignor Luca today. In part it says: I
    “assure you that the concerns you raise have been forwarded to the competent dicasteries of the Holy See.”

    Thanks be to God;

  89. Henry Edwards says:

    Thomas Tucker: Henry- it is a meal. And a sacrifice.

    Perhaps you did not notice that my reference was to those who
    “regard the Mass not as a sacrifice but as a meal”.

    “The Mass is at the same time, and inseparably, the sacrificial memorial in which the sacrifice of the Cross is perpetuated and the sacred banquet of communion with the Lord’s body and blood”. (CCC 1382, Ecclesia de Eucharistia 12)

    However, is my general experience that those who emphasize the Mass as a “meal” are — more often than not, though I have no reason to think this of you — ones who (in John Paul II’s words) strip the concept of a sacrificial banquet (E de E 48) of its intrinsic sacrificial import so that what remains for them is merely a fraternal banquet (E de E 10), i.e., a meal.

  90. thomas tucker says:

    Henry- understood.

  91. mfg says:

    Ah, collegiality! Unfortunately, the Bishop probably has canon law, and certainly Vatican II on on his side. All the Pope can do is try to privately persuade him to be a good guy. The FSSP has had its problems before with Bishops in South America and all the dicasteries in Rome couldn’t do anything about it. And this is the overriding reason why the SSPX in their current talks with Rome need to come away with a Personal Prelature or the like from the Holy Father to protect them from harrassment by the Bishops who, frankly, have absolute control of their dioceses.

  92. kolbe1019 says:

    God Bless ArchBishop Michael J. Miller of Vancouver! He was the president of my university and he has continued to be a faithful son of the Church in a variety of posts.

  93. Jordanes says:

    mfg said: Unfortunately, the Bishop probably has canon law, and certainly Vatican II on on his side.

    No, he doesn’t. The law as well as Vatican II are explicitly against his claim that the Holy See’s declaration on this matter doesn’t apply to him and his diocese.

    All the Pope can do is try to privately persuade him to be a good guy.

    No, he can do more than that.

    He probably won’t, though.

  94. Bressani56 says:

    “deny the Catholic people their rites”

    was this a typo or pun?

  95. Random Friar says:

    To add:

    Canon 16 §1 “Laws are authentically interpreted by the legislator and by the one to whom the legislator has granted the power to interpret them authentically.”

    The universal and ultimate legislator and judge of Canon or any ecclesial law is the pope, and to whomever he may wish to delegate. Each bishop is in legislator and interpreter of law in his diocese, but he may be overridden if Rome offers a definitive interpretation.

    How can we say he has that power? Canon 331: “The office uniquely committed by the Lord to Peter, the first of the Apostles, and to be transmitted to his successors, abides in the Bishop of the Church of Rome. He is the head of the College of Bishops, the Vicar of Christ, and the Pastor of the universal Church here on earth. Consequently, by virtue of his office, he has supreme, full, immediate and universal ordinary power in the Church, and he can always freely exercise this power.”

    How he does so, if he wishes to do so, is also up to the pope’s prudential judgment.

  96. Precentrix says:

    Just a thought…

    I believe this issue was ‘solved’ in the diocese of Portsmouth (UK) by one congregation simply resorting to spiritual communion for a considerable period of time.

  97. isabella says:

    OK – thank you for some of the reading material, but I still think Christ is the divine physician and I just don’t believe that receiving on the tongue, even right behind somebody with H1N1 will infect me. For that matter, I don’t think receiving on the hand would either, but I haven’t for so long I don’t know how any more. For me, receiving on the tongue is more reverent and I prefer it.

    But I do try to be considerate if *I* am sick. I had regular flu a few years ago during Holy Week and was told (by phone) it would be better to stay home and not infect the people near me in the pews. I was dispensed from fasting and told to stay in bed, sleep a lot, and drink soup and eat if I felt like it. It felt weird eating chicken soup and crackers on Good Friday in particular, but I was completely healthy by Easter. God knows if you are faking.

    Most priests would, I think, tell you the same, that the Church tries to use common sense and if you are seriously ill – stay home and pray from there. Watch Mass on line. Your hands are filthy and you’ll contaminate everything you touch – the door, the pew, the stack of bulletins, etc. Plus like somebody said, breathing on nearby people if you have a respiratory virus is a good way to spread it when you exhale to pray, sing, cough or just breathe.

    But as far as being afraid of *being* infected by Jesus in the hands of a priest, I don’t worry about it at all. I didn’t want to start an argument, it was just a little strange to have this thread so soon after the one on Consecration. I hope this all gets peacefully resolved. So far, it’s not a major issue here yet and I pray it doesn’t become one.

  98. dcs says:

    I believe this issue was ‘solved’ in the diocese of Portsmouth (UK) by one congregation simply resorting to spiritual communion for a considerable period of time.

    Bp. Henry already nixed that idea.

  99. Tom Ryan says:

    Correct. Bishop Henry is forcing Communion in the hand. I’d like to set up a hot dog stand out side every church so the laity could excuse themselves for not being about to observed the one hour fast.

    the real Tom Ryan

  100. C. says:

    My big concern is that the bishop was aware of the Congregation’s decision (dated July) but issued his norms anyway in November. Lots of other bishops around the world have issued similar norms this Fall–and if Bishop Henry was aware of the Congregation’s decision, it’s likely the other bishops were aware of the Congregation’s decision as well.

    This starts to sound a bit like a coordinated rebellion by a number of bishops, pretending that their status as “chief liturgist” trumps the authority of the Vatican congregations. God knows where it will lead if they can get away with denying Communion to whomever they please. These bishops’ commands, as we know, lack any authority whatsoever.

    So my question is–is it morally permissible for laymen accustomed to receiving on the tongue to switch modes of reception in order to be able to receive Communion at all? Or is that cooperation in disobedience to the Roman Pontiff? Is this one of those times when we are called to bear witness to our faith in the Petrine Primacy, as defined infallibly by Vatican I, no matter the cost?

  101. Henry Edwards says:

    Once again – having tried to state it plainly at 2 December 2009 @ 11:34 am – the dispute here has nothing (zero, zilch, nada) to do with a person’s right to receive communion on the tongue rather than communion in the hand.

    Nor with the right – indeed, obligation — of a bishop to suspend communion on the tongue if he’s convinced that this action will save lives that would otherwise be lost. Of course, immediate practical necessity trumps any theoretical ruling made thousands of miles away and months previous.

    As I understand it via e-mails from the scene, the local TLM community did not dispute this point. Indeed, they thought it appropriate to accommodate the bishop’s decision by refraining from approaching the communion rail, contenting themselves with spiritual communions until the (real or perceived) health crisis had passed.

    However, the bishop rejected the solution of simply omitting communion by the people in the meantime. So the real (and only substantial) question here is the right of the priest to celebrate Mass without offering holy communion to the people present.

    It was long (and I’d think still is) accepted doctrine that the sacrificial banquet of the Eucharistic is consummated by consumption of the consecrated gifts offered. It would appear that the bishop does not agree that this is accomplished by the priest alone receiving communion. (For instance, this is why you often hear a bell rung when the celebrant finishes his reception of both species – to signify that the sacrifice has thereby been consummated.) As I understand it, this is the solution the bishop rejected, instead suspending Mass itself.

    It seems to me that this – the question whether a priest can, in case of apparent necessity, celebrate a public Mass with offering communion to the people present – is the really interesting one. Rather than the right to communion on the tongue, which has been discussed here more often than anyone can remember.

  102. C. says:

    Henry, that may be true about the disagreement which led to the suspension of the FSSP apostolate in Calgary. But if the TLM community did not dispute the point, perhaps it was because they were acting before it became known that the bishop had deliberately disobeyed an order from Rome, and before the bishop himself made his disobedience public and even stated that Rome had no authority over the case. The bishop’s response to parvenu74 created a new and bigger crisis.

    So, in light of the bishop’s response, I’ll restate my question: is receiving Communion on the hand in Calgary an act of cooperation in disobedience against the Holy Father?

    To be clear, the bishop has no authority to eliminate public Communion on the tongue in response to an H1N1 outbreak because Rome removed that authority from all bishops in July.

  103. Random Friar says:

    To me, this seems to be one of the problem with many of us clerics: we listen to experts, but we don’t always use our common sense and take a broad view of the matter. Some expert in our diocese might say “Do this, that or that to avoid swine flu,” and we rely on their judgment assuming it is always the correct one, without thinking whether it might be the most prudent or pastoral (I mean that in the positive sense), or even if the matter is decided.

    Surrounding oneself with experts is fine, but at the same time we cannot surrender or delegate our own pastoral obligation to the people of God.

    “Indeed, though one be perfect among the sons of men, if Wisdom, who comes from You, be not with him, he shall be held in no esteem.” Wisdom 6:9.

  104. C. says:

    And as a corollary, the right of Rome to eliminate the authority of the bishop to withhold Communion in particular circumstances is related to the right of the bishop to eliminate the authority of the priest to withhold Communion in particular circumstances. If Rome can say that withholding Communion on the tongue is unlawful in response to H1N1, then the bishop can say that withholding Communion entirely is unlawful in response to H1N1.

    Priests, we must remember, do not possess the fullness of the priesthood. [That introduces a thorny concept into this discussion. It is best to leave this topic aside for this. And perhaps a nickname more than simply “C.” would be helpful.] And bishops do not possess the fullness of the governing authority of the Church.

  105. I feel the need to close this combox for the time being.

    I think we need a different approach.

    My recommendations are posted in another entry.