Pont. Comm. “Ecclesia Dei” letter about Communion in the hand

Even yesterday I had a conversation about the thorny issue of just what Summorum Pontificum (the 3rd anniversary of its release is tomorrow, blessed day) might have revived.

Take the situation of the distribution of Holy Communion. 

In the old days before the conciliar reform of the liturgy it was unthinkable – unless you were a heretic or Protestant – that people would receive Communion in the hand.  There was no need for specific decrees about such a normal practice as reception of Communion, which was always given on the tongue to people who knelt if they could. 

Today, however, there is (sadly) legislation which permits Communion in the hand under some circumstances.

Summorum Pontificum did not revive the old decrees of the long-gone Sacred Congregation of Rites or automatically resurrect the practices of yore.

Or did it?

I have always held that priests need to respect the laws in force about Communion today, even in the celebration of Holy Mass in the older form.   Of course they can also do all they might to discourage Communion in the hand and promote a more reverent manner of reception.   At the same time, it is unlikely that many who go to the older Mass will want to receive Communion in the hand.

I received from a friend in England the following very interesting news.  This is on kreutz.net.

The Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" – remember them? – sent a response to a person making an inquiry about reception of Communion at the older, Extraordinary Form. Translation:

"Dear Mr. XXXX In reference to your letter of 15. June, this papal commission would like to point out that the celebration of Holy Mass in the extraordinary form envisages the reception of Holy Communion while kneeling, as the Holy Host is laid directly on the tongue of the communicant. There is no provision for the distribution of Holy Communion on the hand in this form of the Holy Mass. With blessings,"

I note from the graphic that there was no Protocol. 

There is a stamp on the letter rather than a signature.

This is a form letter.

It is therefore more than a curiosity, but it is a great deal less than the final word.

We are still left with questions about Communion during the Extraordinary Form.

If people insist on receiving in the hand, are they to be denied based on the argument that in 1962 there was no permission to receive in the hand?

And on an additional note, keep in mind this and this.

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74 Responses to Pont. Comm. “Ecclesia Dei” letter about Communion in the hand

  1. “If people insist on receiving in the hand, are they to be denied based on the argument that in 1962 there was no permission to receive in the hand?”

    I think they should not be denied Communion, unless they are also to be denied Communion for not having fasted for 3 hours, or since midnight, as was the rule then, too.

  2. Cantuale says:

    Father, that letter must be fake (unfortunately), a forgery.

    1) It is not signed by anyone
    2) The date is in italian, the content in german
    3) It is full of grammar mistakes
    4) It has no protocol number: you know that you will never see a letter without it from the Vatican
    5) It has a seal, but usually real letters from Ecclesia Dei are not stamped with that!
    7) It is utterly impossible, as you know, that Ecclesia Dei received the request on the 15th of June and, almost immediately, on the 21st could give the answer.

  3. JohnMa says:

    Obviously, Dr. Peters knows way more about Canon Law than I do, but the fast was changed by Canon Law and Communion in the hand was not. Surely this has to play some role, no?

  4. Cantuale: You make some claims.

    Father, that letter must be fake (unfortunately), a forgery.

    1) It is not signed by anyone [That doesn't mean anything in itself. In my time we sent form letters which were not signed.]
    2) The date is in italian, the content in german [Oh well... that probably means that an Italian put it together.]
    3) It is full of grammar mistakes [See above.]
    4) It has no protocol number: you know that you will never see a letter without it from the Vatican [That is not the case. There are times when letters which are received do not receive Protocols.]
    5) It has a seal, but usually real letters from Ecclesia Dei are not stamped with that! [That is not always the case. And in this case, it was clear that the stamp replace the signature. I am guessing that the personnel were not available but a standing "order" was given to send a form letter when this came in.]
    7) It is utterly impossible, as you know, that Ecclesia Dei received the request on the 15th of June and, almost immediately, on the 21st could give the answer. [It is in no way utterly impossible. I often had responses out in the afternoon when letters came in the morning. It is not utterly impossible to send out a form letter quickly. ]

    No, I think you are wrong in your assessment.

  5. JohnMa, not sure what you have in mind here, the topic of CiH was never in canon law (if by that, you mean the Code) either way. It was a matter for liturgical law. Also I, too, am suspicious of the doc, but rather than speculate, let’s just say, unsigned letters of no value in law. Best, edp.

  6. dmwallace says:

    Rorate Caeli posted this about an hour ago, but now it’s gone from their site.

  7. The Canon on the fast has been explictly changed, where as Communion in the Hand is an indult, special permission, it can be revoked at any given time, letting the norm of kneeling and on the tongue for the Latin Rite being enforced for the TLM, I think is a good thing

  8. K. Marie says:

    I have a semi-related question. I was at Mass on Sunday and the Eucharistic minister panicked when I tried to receive on the tongue and dropped the Host. I received on the hand once he picked it up to avoid another incident, but I’m not sure if consuming the Host after it had been dropped(It was undamaged)was the right thing to do. Could you clarify this for me? [This is not the topic of this discussion.]

  9. Tradster says:

    I’m not sure a form letter necessarily leaves the question open. The responder may simply have considered it a settled matter that no longer requires the time and effort for a personal letter.

  10. Sedgwick says:

    Anyone who insists on receiving in the hand has lost both their Catholic identity and their reverence for the Blessed Sacrament – most probably through the fault of the Church.

  11. K Marie, yes, someone should have immediately consumed the Host, and covered the Spot with a purificator or mini corporal so no one would step on the spot lest any fragments be lost :)

  12. Federico says:

    Let’s do a quick analysis. This is strictly legal, so don’t bother me with comments about whether this is the ‘Right’ conclusion or not.

    The permission to receive the Eucharist in the hand began through Memoriale Domini (AAS 61 [1969], pp. 541-547). Although Memoriale Domini was self-titled an instruction by a congregation, “de speciali mandato Summi Pontificis Pauli VI composita est.” So, in spite of the name and form, any requirement expressed therein would acquire the force of law by the authority of the supreme legislator.

    It was followed up with a positive response and further instructions by the Congregation for Divine Worship to bishops’ conferences (AAS 61 (1969) 546-547). More instructions (and wider permission) were issued by the Congregation in Immensae caritatis (AAS 65 (1973) 264-271). These were properly instructions related to the initial legislation (which had the proper authority).

    Approval has been provided for England and Wales (1976) and USA (1977). In the US’ approval, individual bishops are given the authority to regulate this permission.

    So, as of today, the law of the Church permits reception of Communion in the hand where it is approved; this means that Catholics in those jurisdictions have that right.

    Now, let’s assume the letter is real. What is it?

    The PCED does not have legislative power, it has executive power only (decree of erection and Pastor bonus). Of course, I can just hear the objection that the Holy Father granted the PCED legislative authority insofar as he directed them to address issues arising out of the EF of the Mass (see Summorum pontificum). I disagree. That authority was not explicitly given and the language of the motu proprio implies the authority to issue instructions for how the law should be applied, not what. This means the letter cannot be a general decree or a partial repeal of existing legislation.

    The letter was not addressed to those to whom it pertains enforcing the law, nor is it a description of how the law it is to be implemented. Therefore, canonically, it is not an instruction.

    The only possibility is that it is a singular administrative act: a singular decree, singular rescript, or singular precept.

    A singular decree is an executive order regarding somebody and a specific situation. If this were the case, it would not alter the law and it’s unlikely that it could abridge even a single person’s rights because PCED lacks legislative authority.

    A singular rescript is a favor. This letter is clearly not a rescript.

    A singular precept is a decree enjoining somebody to do or not do something in observance of the law; it cannot modify the law. If this letter were considered a precept (enjoining somebody from receiving Communion in the hand in spite of their right to do so), it would be contra legem and void.

    So, I would say that if the letter is authentic, then it is an attempt to repeal the applicability of certain laws to the EF of the Mass, a great idea. But, because the congregation didn’t cross its canonical ‘Ts’ and cross it’s ‘Is,’ it didn’t achieve its end.

  13. K. Marie says:

    @Joe: Thanks for clarifying that for me. Aside from my consumption of the Host nothing was done to protect any fragments that might have broken away from being stepped on. I guess we can only pray that the shag carpeting protected it from any damage.

  14. dcs says:

    I think they should not be denied Communion, unless they are also to be denied Communion for not having fasted for 3 hours, or since midnight, as was the rule then, too.

    Can a priest deny Holy Communion to someone whom he suspects has not fasted? Can he even deny Holy Communion to someone whom he knows has not fasted (I mean the external forum here of course)? My guess is probably not.

  15. @K Marie, no problem :)

  16. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Dr. Peters:

    You wrote that a person should not be denied Communion at the EF Mass “unless they are also to be denied Communion for not having fasted for 3 hours.” I chuckled at the thought of trying to discern at the Communion rail who had fasted and who had not. Would it be a hungry look in their eyes?

    It is funny that although church law clearly upholds the right to receive Communion unless impeded, priests do deny people who kneel on the spot, or genuflect, or simply approach looking “too traditional.” And although clergy have been warned to stop persecuting traditional communicants in this way, it still goes on, sad to say.

    And yet when people attend the EF Mass and wish to assert their “right” to go against the custom of a millennium, insisting on receiving the Host in the hand, that right will usually be acknowledged and defended regardless of how disrupting it is. My response is that there is a legal provision for denying Communion in the hand based on the danger of profanation, at either the OF Mass or the EF Mass.

    Exactly what should determine the “danger of profanation” is very difficult to define. But I think that if a priest has asked people at the EF Mass to respect the Communion custom of that form and someone belligerently insists on sticking their hand out, the priest would be within his right to think that something is suspicious and the priest should err on the side of vigilance for the Blessed Sacrament–and then deny the communicant the Host in the hand.

  17. wolfeken says:

    Dr. Peters’ comment above does raise an interesting point — either all of the disciplines in place during 1962 should be followed or they are merely discretionary.
    Altar girls fit into this same category.

    This is why the FSSP has wisely changed its annual calendar in recent years to place fish on every Friday of the year and for appropriate vigils and Ember Days, along with fast days for all 40 days in Lent and other respective days throughout the year.

    The sad fact is that if a priest really wants to he can licitly say a TLM with altar girls, having consumed a Triple Cheeseburger ten minutes before Mass on a Friday, with lay women tossing communion into the hands of standing communicants.

    In order to combat this, those who attend the TLM, in my opinion, ought to observe all of the rules and disciplines (fasting, abstinence, etc.) in place during 1962. Otherwise it’s a slippery slope.

  18. kgurries says:

    If this is true then the following interpretation seems reasonable: the indult for communion in the hand is really not universal after all — and does not extend to all forms of Holy Mass.

  19. Henry Edwards says:

    I think they should not be denied Communion, unless they are also to be denied Communion for not having fasted for 3 hours, or since midnight, as was the rule then, too.

    Dr. Peters may be onto something here. If the priest can see at a glance that the person kneeling at the rail has not fasted for 3 hours then, fine, don’t worry about norms and laws, just step on past him and give communion to the next person (on the tongue, of course).

    Seriously, it’s refreshing to see a wise priest cut right through the fog and say something truly sensible on a “third rail” topic that most of us lacking pastoral experience might be wiser to avoid. Thank you, Fr. Sotelo!

  20. kolbe1019 says:

    I made a video on this topic with HD footage of the particles in the hand experiment.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BiUqDa_Gzj0

  21. robtbrown says:

    You wrote that a person should not be denied Communion at the EF Mass “unless they are also to be denied Communion for not having fasted for 3 hours.” I chuckled at the thought of trying to discern at the Communion rail who had fasted and who had not. Would it be a hungry look in their eyes?
    Comment by Fr_Sotelo

    If the communicant approaches with a half eaten cheeseburger in one hand, it’s doubtful that proper fasting has been observed.

  22. robtbrown: Though he may indeed just be into carrying around half-eaten cheeseburgers.

  23. New Sister says:

    My parish priest refuses to extend Holy Communion to someone he sees chewing gum prior to (or appallingly, during) Holy Mass – for having broken the fast.

  24. Well, I thought I drew a perfectly sound analogy. Maybe some would prefer to think thru witholding Communion from women without head coverings. Anyway, in short, my position is that one should follow the law, in season and out. Laws are precisely for those situations wherein “customs” and “understandings” differ, and disruption sets in. If, sadly, one side breaks the law more often than does the other, that side will have to render an accounting for its conduct. But it does not give the other side a justification for disregarding the law in turn. Best, edp.

  25. Mitchell NY says:

    I wish they would release the clarification letter already. This letter to whoever from whomever just leaves more questions and debate. I wish Rome would speak clearly and for all with the voice it has been given. Now they will probably receive more letters with more inquiries and send out more “form letters” in response. Wouldn’t an encylical devoted to the liturgy and some binding information go a long way in avoiding discussing the less important things? I can’t possibly imagine what Eccelsia Dei would do in just 1 million of the faithful wrote a letter with the same question. Grind to a halt I assume.

  26. Dr. Edward Peters, your exaltation of “law” in this case is the promotion of minimalism and legalism. We traditional Catholics want to treat Our Lord as God. That means receiving him on the tongue, kneeling, at the traditional Latin Mass. I respectfully suggest that you take your “position” to your Novus Ordo parish and keep it there. [This is the sort of comment which - for decades - has harmed and delayed the legitimate aspirations of so many.]

  27. robtbrown says:

    Question: When we speak of liturgical law, does that also apply to the Uniates?

  28. St. Louis IX says:

    THANK YOU Timothy Mulligan, for writing what I was thinking.
    All this conversation about the law. My Lord and My God I want to KNEEL and Recieve you on the tongue.
    I want the Faith of St Louis IX I want to kneel before my Lord.

    How about 2 million letters from Catholics saying we do not want to recieve Jesus in our Hands.To anyone that can help us

  29. Geoffrey says:

    “I respectfully suggest that you take your ‘position’ to your Novus Ordo parish and keep it there.”

    Wow. That’s all I can say.

  30. Tim Ferguson says:

    My dear cognomial friend, I can assure you that Dr. Peters is not promoting legalism, but rather citing the law. Which, as he deftly states, is to smooth out those situations where there are disputes, as there clearly are on this issue, sadly.

    It is offensive when anyone makes the reception of Holy Communion a moment for petulant protest of any sort. But I think it’s wise to point out that just as there are many who kneel for Holy Communion at a parish where standing has (sadly, in my opinion) become the norm, out of sheer devotion to Our Blessed Lord, there are many who come to an Extraordinary Form Mass for the first time, or the first time in many years and are unaware of – or uncomfortable with – receiving Holy Communion in a manner unlike they way they have received Him for 20 years, or, for many, all of their life.

    Castigating those who attempt to receive on the hand is not likely to win them over to the more traditional practice. If they are receiving in the hand as a matter of protest to traditional practice (and, personally, I suspect that these cases are truly few and far between), they are in the wrong. Just as someone who kneels, not out of devotion, but out of a sense of pride, is in the wrong.

    Pastorally, what is the best way to deal with people who receive in a manner that is different from the normative practice in a parish? One could refuse him Communion. If the person was a visitor, attempting to receive in the manner he was accustomed to, would that accomplish any good? If the person was attempting some form of protest against the approved liturgical practice of the parish, refusing him Communion would likely strengthen his protest.

    If instead, the priest simply gave the individual Holy Communion, and noted who the person was, then, on the way out of Church, the visitor could be pulled discretely aside by the priest advised. If it were a protester, that moment would give him the chance to give voice to his protest, and the priest could give appropriate advice and counsel. Would that end the protest? Likely not, but it would (it seems to me) to be a much more pastoral approach.

  31. Tim Ferguson says:

    rotbrown – the “uniates” (they generally don’t like that term and we should avoid using it – they are Eastern Catholics) have their own liturgical law. So yes, liturgical law applies, as a category, to Eastern Catholics, but their liturgical law differs in many respect from the Latin Church’s liturgical law.

  32. St. Louis IX says:

    Dear Tim Ferguson. I understand what Dr. Peters is saying but when is enough enough. When can Catholics finally say as a Family. Communion in the Hand was and is a bad idea.
    How long must Priests feel spiritual torment about putting our Lord in peoples hands.How long must 1st communicants be only taught to recieve in the hand. How long Lord how long.
    You lament certain practices, Dr. Peters probally laments these practices(forgive me for speaking for you if you disagree) I think most people lament these practices; Yet the subject will be debated back and forth. I`m sorry but it sickens me that so many that see the error defend it because, well its allowed.
    Please lets just try and correct it…Thats all I wanted to really say

  33. doanli says:

    I have always insisted my 12 year old receive Holy Communion on the tongue, which to my happiness, he has always obeyed.

    The 3 hour rule? I don’t remember that, being a post V2 child, but it would be great for him to do this as well. Any ideas how to help a 12 year old understand why he should have to fast 3 hours before Mass. I’m afraid that I may not be well at explaining things. (I cannot receive Communion until I receive an annulment of my first “marriage”, but I will fast with him.) He’s a clever boy, with lots of questions. :)

    He doesn’t normally like to eat breakfast anyway, so that will help. :)

  34. Prof. Basto says:

    I think they should not be denied Communion, unless they are also to be denied Communion for not having fasted for 3 hours, or since midnight, as was the rule then, too.

    Perhaps the intent of the Holy See, in recognizing the TLM as the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, is to allow the revival of ALL the discipline that surrounds it.

    After all, institutes of pontifical right dedicated to the TLM, such as the SSPX, have been publicly conducting Ordinations to minor orders and to the subdiaconate for decades, and those rites have been celebrated by several Prelates with no opposition to Rome, in spite of Ministeria Quaedam.

    So, perhaps, the minor orders and the subdiaconate indeed still exist, at least so far as the institutes that have legal permission to be dedicated to the Usus Antiquor are concerned.

    Now – if it is genuine as Fr. Z thinks it is – this letter from PCED rules that the post-Conciliar discipline of allowing Communion in the hand only applies to the post-Conciliar form of the Roman Rite, and not to the Usus Antiquor.

    So perhaps the intent of the legislator is to allow the revival of the whole legal discipline of the TLM (as in force in 1962), to surround the celebrations of the Mass and of the Sacraments in accordance with the books of the Usus Antiquor.

    If that is the case – and I submit that it is – then female Altar Servers are not allowed in the TLM; the Communicant MUST abide by the pre-conciliar rules on fasting and abstinence, including the longer pre-Eucharistic fast; women ARE REQUIRED to cover their heads during a liturgical celebration in the Old Rite, etc, etc, etc.

  35. Clinton says:

    Mr. Mulligan, you requested that Dr. Peters take his ‘position’ to his Novus Ordo parish and keep it there. I would point out that
    the Holy Father recently appointed Dr. Peters to be a referendare of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura–one of
    about a dozen consultants to the Church’s highest administrative tribunal and the only non-cleric selected.

    Clearly someone more highly placed in the Church than any of us here is intensely interested in what Dr. Peters has to say regarding
    the laws of the Church.

  36. ipadre says:

    I believe that I read if there is danger of profanation, the priest has the right to deny Communion in the hand. Similarly, when someone comes down the Communion line clearly chewing gum, they can and should be denied Communion. So, there are situations to deny and situations to refuse Communion in the hand.

    A local priest found hosts in song books for a number of weeks at the same Mass, finally, he told the congregation that they were to receive on the tongue. Did he have a right to do that? I don’t know. But, God bless him for protecting Our Lord.

    This whole issue is growing. The Holy Father demands those who receive from him do so on the tongue and kneeling. We need VERY clear direction from the Holy See, that cannot be questioned as to the meaning.

  37. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Tim Ferguson:

    You asked, “Pastorally, what is the best way to deal with people who receive in a manner that is different from the normative practice in a parish?”

    I would say that when people show more reverence than is called for, including kneeling or genuflecting when everyone else just walks up to Communion, I project a smile of serene contentment, such that a father shows when his child has pleased him with excellent behavior. Then I give the communicant Our Lord.

    However, when I am at the Communion rail of the EF Mass, and I see the hands “roll out” my coutenance is much changed. I have been told by the parishioners that it is positively frightening, such as what one would see from Pope Pius XI in a bad mood while writing Casti Connubii. Then I fix my eyes on the communicant, and say in a low and steady voice. “Open. Your. Mouth.” Immediately, the mouth opens, the Host goes in, and problem is SOLVED.

    I agree with Dr. Peters that if someone insist on Communion in the hand, it should not be denied. Thanks be to God, I have never had to deny Holy Communion to any of the faithful.

  38. Prof. Basto says:

    Sorry, I made a huge mistake when writting my post, and I only realized it now, when returning to the site to read other comments.

    When, in the paragraph that begins with “After all”, I wrote “…such as the SSPX…” I meant to say “…such as the FSSP…”.

  39. Clinton, that is what frightens me.

  40. dcs says:

    Pastorally, what is the best way to deal with people who receive in a manner that is different from the normative practice in a parish? One could refuse him Communion. If the person was a visitor, attempting to receive in the manner he was accustomed to, would that accomplish any good? If the person was attempting some form of protest against the approved liturgical practice of the parish, refusing him Communion would likely strengthen his protest.

    If instead, the priest simply gave the individual Holy Communion, and noted who the person was, then, on the way out of Church, the visitor could be pulled discretely aside by the priest advised. If it were a protester, that moment would give him the chance to give voice to his protest, and the priest could give appropriate advice and counsel. Would that end the protest? Likely not, but it would (it seems to me) to be a much more pastoral approach.

    The issue with this approach is that it might not be so “pastoral” to the other people in the congregation, who would be scandalized that their priest would give Holy Communion in the hand. It might not be right for them to take scandal, but I think they would do it nevertheless. I suppose a priest, to be truly pastoral, would have to ask himself whether the scandal taken by the communicant who tries to receive in the hand and is refused is greater than that taken by other people assisting at Mass who see the priest give Holy Communion in the hand.

  41. A Sinner 2 says:

    “I think they should not be denied Communion, unless they are also to be denied Communion for not having fasted for 3 hours, or since midnight, as was the rule then, too.”

    So, based on your reasoning, none of the 1962 rules apply to the 1962 Mass. Therefore, all “hell” can break loose at the EF, just as it does at the OF.

    How about standing for Communion? That’s the current NORM isn’t it? Is that allowed at the EF?

    Extraordinary ministers (perhaps reserved for those who want Communion in the hand)?

    Hey let’s all hold hands for the Our Father, while the choir breaks into a round of Gather Us In, in Latin.

  42. Henry Edwards says:

    Fr. Sotelo,

    Those of us lacking the pastoral experience to comment otherwise can only stand . . . er, ah, kneel . . . in respect and admiration for your completely even-handed, fair and balanced approached to different types of communicants.

  43. C. says:

    Dr. Peters, there are many categorizations one can think of which can require Communion kneeling on the tongue but allow Communion for women without head coverings.

    An obvious distinction is that one is liturgical law, while the other simply a canon.

    Ecclesia Dei has clarified the intention of the Holy Father in this matter, and thank God for that.

    (And lest anyone read this and take scandal, I am not suggesting that she actually disobey St. Paul and the universal Tradition of the Church, both East and West and South, but rather discussing the penalty that must be applied by the priest.)

  44. Hi Folks. I’m sure you understand that I can’t engage in a complete canonical/liturgical tutorial every time an intereting point comes up in a blog combox, and the rudeness of some of the comments above make me even less inclined to bother. My basic desire to help people avoid mistakes in their arguments (and there are several above) will have to go unsatisfied yet again. Oh well. But, fwiw, may I reiterate what Fr. Z’s red-comment above points out, namely, that insults directed at other Catholics who are acting fully within the Church’s law is the single most irritating thing I and others have experienced, for decades, in this whole area. One may never, never, use the sins of one’s adversaries (assuming they ever are adversaries) as justifying sins against them in return. I don’t know how else to put it. You either see how it applies here, or you don’t. So, on to other things, now. Kind regards, edp.

  45. robtbrown says:

    rotbrown – the “uniates” (they generally don’t like that term and we should avoid using it – they are Eastern Catholics) have their own liturgical law.

    Those I knew in Rome, some of whom were classmates (one now a bishop), had no objection to it. Most, however, were less than enthusiastic about papal infallibility.

    Maybe your experience in Rome was different.

    So yes, liturgical law applies, as a category, to Eastern Catholics, but their liturgical law differs in many respect from the Latin Church’s liturgical law.
    Comment by Tim Ferguson

    First, you say it’s the same, then you say it’s different.

    That notwithstanding, my point is this: If they have different liturgical law because the rite is different, it could also be argued that the liturgical law for the 1970 Missal does not apply to the 1570 (or 1962) Missal. I realize that the Vatican explanation is that they are different forms of the same Roman Rite, but in IMHO that could be argued to be sufficient to distinguish the liturgical law of one from the other.

  46. robtbrown says:

    However, when I am at the Communion rail of the EF Mass, and I see the hands “roll out” my coutenance is much changed. I have been told by the parishioners that it is positively frightening, such as what one would see from Pope Pius XI in a bad mood while writing Casti Connubii. Then I fix my eyes on the communicant, and say in a low and steady voice. “Open. Your. Mouth.” Immediately, the mouth opens, the Host goes in, and problem is SOLVED.
    Comment by Fr_Sotelo

    It sounds as if you’re making them an offer they can’t refuse.

  47. robtbrown says:

    Dr. Edward Peters,

    Looking at your website, I noticed that you have been named a Referendarius of the Apostolic Signatura. Auguri.

    One point: You say that consultors have no role in decision making. I understand how that is applied to a diocese or parish.

    On the other hand, in the Roman Curia consultors of Congregations do have a vote.

  48. Nathan says:

    Fr. Sotelo, God bless you! I stayed away from the combox on this thread for a while, but your comments on your approach to Holy Communion made my day.

    In Christ,

  49. robtbrown: You confuse, I think, deliberative and consultative voting in law. As for the STAS, see B16 mp Antiqua ordinatione Art. 10. § 1. Referendarii, salvo art. 9, munus obtinent consultorum, qui votum [an informed opinion] pro scientia et experientia super proposita quaestione proferunt.

  50. This is a great thread. Where else can you learn things like that?

  51. wolfeken says:

    I think the overall point of the comments above is that the TLM movement is not about merely observing the bare minimum of the law.

    To that end, it is legitimate to say an “extraordinary” Mass should have “extraordinary” disciplines connected to it, including communion on the tongue distributed by an ordained man; the fast that was in place during 1962; males as acolytes; headcoverings for women; Sunday Mass actually on Sunday; and the proper vestments required in 1962. While it is true that all of the above was changed since 1962 and could be applied to the TLM today, it is up to the Church Militant to make sure that does not happen. Lead by example and stop making excuses.

    Anyone can read the law and tell you how to barely get by. We’re talking about something a little higher here.

  52. robtbrown says:

    robtbrown: You confuse, I think, deliberative and consultative voting in law. As for the STAS, see B16 mp Antiqua ordinatione Art. 10. § 1. Referendarii, salvo art. 9, munus obtinent consultorum, qui votum [an informed opinion] pro scientia et experientia super proposita quaestione proferunt.
    Comment by Dr. Edward Peters —

    I’m not confusing anything. You said on your website that consultors only express opinions but don’t participate in decision making. My point is that consultors of Congregations actually participate in decision making by casting a formal vote. The Annuario Pontificio lists the consultors of various Congregations.

    Further, like the bishops who are members of Congregations, consultors often are affiliated with more than just one. One of my professors was a Consultor to the SCDF, Sacraments and Worship, and either Clergy or Education (can’t remember which).

  53. Sam Schmitt says:

    wolfeken,

    May I suggest you’re going down a rabbit hole? Making “going beyond the letter of the law” the new law is just substituting one legalism for another. How about insisting on fasting from midnight? Only instituted acolytes (no more 7 year old boys)? The pre-1955 order of Holy Week? You get the idea.

    A better idea is accepting the law just as it is, as Dr. Peters wisely recommends. It’s not perfect, but at least we’re not chasing down rabbits.

  54. C. says:

    @wolfeken: Ordinarily, law is given by superiors and obeyed. Extraordinarily, invalid laws are proposed and the higher laws obeyed. Habitually ignoring the orders of superiors is not healthy. The problem isn’t usually the law, but its interpreters.

    We should strive to point out that the law for us Extraordinary Form types, confirmed for us by the Pope himself, is to keep the older Form: this is clear in all the documents from Quattuor Abhinc Annos to Ecclesia Dei to Cardinal Ratzinger’s address to the Argentine Bishops’ Conference to Summorum Pontificum and now to this clarification from the PCED. One may speak of other general laws which have been given to the Church, but it is not clear that they automatically override the liturgical law of the Extraordinary Form.

    People who act as if other things dogmatically must apply (e.g. the new Calendar) have been so often corrected in the past by legitimate authority that it begins to become humorous. And so often these people fail to deign to talk with us, as opposed to talk down to us, because they have not the time, and we have not the credentials, so the folly of their ways is kept from their eyes because of the bigotry of their hearts. I speak not of Dr. Peters, of course, who has actually deigned to talk with us, but of certain professional apologists who seem to constitute a lay magisterium of sorts in the media, and who still repeat errors about Vatican II like “active participation” without a hint of trouble in conscience.

    Another who was in error in the past was Alfonso Mendez, Catholic Patriarch of Ethiopia. One hopes that after having lost an entire country to the Catholic Faith, this errant zealot would have repented of his uncharitable tactics, but there is no record that he did. Rather, he may have seen himself a “dry martyr”. Long after he went to his particular judgment, the Pope overruled his decisions.

  55. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Dr. Peters:

    I appreciate when someone of your expertise drops in to comment. Unfortunately, there are times when our most erudite posters will say something that gets a fellow poster emotional and they have a lapse of prudence and graciousness. Even the clergy in these threads have taken a boxing to the ears for appearing to say things which did not seem right to a felllow poster.

    You have as usual come to the defense of law and the rightful obedience owed to it, including the law which gives Latin rite Catholics a right to Communion in the hand, in either form of the liturgy. In theory, I back you up totally. However, as a priest I have pastoral difficulty with a law which has clearly been shown to lead directly to irreverence of the Blessed Sacrament. Or put differently, if the salvation of souls is the supreme law of the Church, and present legislation allows for something which has been detrimental to souls, then perhaps this is one law which should not be defended so vigorously.

    Priests in general are very jaded about Church law. Do you remember the altar girl fiasco? Pastors like me kept enforcing it only to have the Vatican side with the clerical outlaws and say, “go ahead and have altar girls after all.” I don’t think those examples of spinelessness from the Holy See justify disregard for the right of people to receive Communion in the hand. But it should give a background as to why traditional priests throw their hands up and say, “while you holy legislators are getting your act together, those of us who are actually in the business of the care of souls will do what we have to common sensically to get them to heaven. Or at least we will enforce at the parish level what we need to for reverence of the Blessed Sacrament.”

    Again, I do thank you heartily for your contributions and for all you do in the service of the Church.

  56. Ferde Rombola says:

    I agree the law is the law and if the law allows us to do something, well, it’s the law. However, it should be said somewhere so I’ll say it here. In my observation, the accelerated slide away from orthodoxy in the Western Church began the very minute we began following the law by taking the Blessed Sacrament in our hands. It is, IMO, the law notwithstanding, a sacrilege.

    At the ordination of priests, the bishop anoints the ordinands’ hands, blesses them and kisses them. Those hands are sanctified because they are to hold the the Body and Blood of the Lord. If there is one privilege I’d think priests would most jealously guard, it is the right to hold the Lord in his hands. Now anyone can do it and the gesture at ordinations is now an empty, meaningless ceremony.

    Communion in the hand has been a disaster for the Church. Period.

  57. dans0622 says:

    Can anyone point out to me where there was any written law which mandated a manner of distributing/receiving Communion in a Mass celebrated according to the Missal of 1962? In the Missal itself, there seems to be no such directive given to the priest. There are, as far as I know, no instructions at all given to the people in the pews. It would seem that this is a customary law attached to this form of the Mass. (Please, someone correct me if I am wrong.)

    Certainly, the priest (and people) should be expected to obey this custom. If it happens that someone puts out his hands, the priest/deacon would have every right to say, as Fr. Sotelo said, “Open your mouth please.” If the person refuses…tough call. It doesn’t seem to be enough to refuse the Sacrament, in my opinion.

    Dan

  58. brassplayer says:

    One may never, never, use the sins of one’s adversaries (assuming they ever are adversaries) as justifying sins against them in return.

    Amen.

  59. Agreed, Fr. S, and Fr. Z, both. And thx for your kind words.

    A political wag recently remarked that the fastest way to get into trouble these days is to point out what the Constitution actually says. I can say the same thing for those who point out what canon law actually says. Dangerous profession! Like the altar girl decision, which I (and some others of, I think, defensible orthodoxy) predicted would come down as it did because that interpretation more closely matched the law as it actually reads. As you might have noticed, I express precious few personal opinions about how law OUGHT to read (who am I to advise the Church as to what she ought to do?) but I do generally know how to read the law as she has given it and to understand it in light of canonical rules. But maybe even there I flatter myself. It’s a risk, yes.

    ps: I still think robtbrown is missing my point about consultors, esp. in light of JP2 apcon Pastor bonus artt. 3 & 12, not to mention AO, but the disagreement won’t keep me up tonight.

  60. A Sinner 2 says:

    [This is the sort of comment which – for decades – has harmed and delayed the legitimate aspirations of so many.]

    Do you really think so Father? Just maybe if the folks in the pews back in the 60s and 70s (when they still mostly knew their religion) had refused to put up with what was going on instead of either shutting up and putting up or quietly leaving the Church, the Vatican would have been pressured to preserve tradition in order to prevent schism rather than the reverse–and the Church wouldn’t be in the mess it’s in today.

  61. kgurries says:

    But if this letter is authentic — it suggests that the (indult) for communion-in-hand is not truly universal in application. This does not appear to change the law in any manner — even if it seeks to clarify the law. Perhaps Dr. Peters can correct me here, however, I see this merely as a clarification on a point of law — the universality (or lack thereof) of an existing indult.

  62. Cantuale says:

    Inquiring about the letter, I asked the PCED itself and they confirmed that the letter is a true responsio from them to a private person, but it is only restating the norms for the distribution of Holy Communion according to the rubrics of 1962 Missal.

  63. Federico says:

    Cantuale writes: “but it is only restating the norms for the distribution of Holy Communion according to the rubrics of 1962 Missal.

    Except that the rubrics of the 1962 missal mention nothing of this sort. Unless I missed it (and I looked carefully).

    This is the sort of thing that makes me wish congregations had more canonists on staff.

  64. dans0622 says:

    Federico: agreed.

    KGurries: Perhaps you are correct. Also, according to a chronology I have seen, the first “indult” regarding communion in the hand was given after the approval of the Missal of Paul VI. So, maybe one can argue that this indult did not pertain to the Missal of 1962. I’m not sure if this is a sound argument or not. In my limited canonical understanding, I think it is.

  65. Cantuale says:

    This is what they said in Italian: “si tratta d’una risposta ad un privato, che conferma la disciplina che regola la normativa della distribuzione della Santa Comunione nella forma straordinaria, secondo la rubrica del Messale 1962″.

  66. Federico says:

    Cantuale, the language matters little. Fino a prova contraria, non mi risulta che la rubrica del Messale del 1962 contenga alcuna indicazione, disciplina, o normativa che regoli la distribuzione della Comunione.

    Again, (see my note near the top) I suspect the PCED would like to do the right thing but is going about it in an inappropriate and canonically ineffective way.

  67. Subdeacon Joseph says:

    “In the old days before the conciliar reform of the liturgy it was unthinkable – unless you were a heretic or Protestant – that people would receive Communion in the hand.”

    This is patently false because in the ancient Church communion was always received under both species and the body was received in the hand. The communion of both species was practiced in the west until the 12th century.

  68. Subdeacons: I think you know perfectly well what I meant.

  69. robtbrown says:

    ps: I still think robtbrown is missing my point about consultors, esp. in light of JP2 apcon Pastor bonus artt. 3 & 12, not to mention AO, but the disagreement won’t keep me up tonight.
    Comment by Dr. Edward Peters

    You are doing a fine job refuting a point I did not make.

    Once again:

    1. I said that in dicasteries consultors have a role in the decision making process. I also noted they have a vote.

    2. I never said that they were members of the Congregation. In fact, I explicitly said they weren’t. Nor did I say that their vote was equal to that of the members.

    4. My point has been simply that the consultors formally participate in the decision making process. Are they members of the Congregation? Do they vote as those members do? No, but the theological consultors are there for a reason. For example, if there is a consensus among a dicasteries’ consultors against a certain document of that same dicastery, then it is unlikely that the members would vote affirmatively.

  70. dans0622 says:

    robtbrown,

    You said to Dr. Peters:

    “You say that consultors have no role in decision making.” And later you said to him: “You said on your website that consultors only express opinions but don’t participate in decision making.”

    That is not what he said. He said “in canon law consultors express opinions only and do not enjoy decision-making authority over the matters presented to them.”

    Hope that clears it up.
    Dan

  71. dspecht says:

    For authenticity of the letter cf. http://www.piusbruderschaft.de/ resp. http://www.piusbruderschaft.de/component/content/article/717-aktuell/4384-dokument-aus-rom-ist-authentisch

    (if you are able to read German ;-)

    Or cf directly Rev.Fr. Gero Weishaupts site… (also in German ;-)

    And read the whole context on http://www.piusbruderschaft.de/ or fsspx.de(German, you know…;-))

  72. dspecht says:

    P.S. Fr. Weishaupt is canonist. And sorry, you can not cf. it on his own site but on kathnews.de (http://kathnews.de/cms/cms/front_content.php?idart=438)

    But on his site he has some interesting answer re the question of female ministeres in the TLM (that is also applicable to the question of Hand-
    comunion etc.). Cf. there!!

  73. dspecht says:

    The analogy of hand-Communion on the one hand and fasting or head-covering on the other seems to me not appropriate — because the former is a liturgical law, not in the Codex (at least not in the old one), the latter are laws of the Codex.

    So as all old rubrics are in force, we can see the way of distributing Communion as a question of rubrics [of 1962](written or customary) and therefore the old manner is still binding.

    [Well, the female ministers are also in the codex (if I remember rightly - or at least the whole matter of liturgical ministers is now in the Codex), but P. G. Weishaupt says nontheless that it would be impossible to have them in the TLM... (see above; he treats them like rubrical/rubricistical laws or argues that all laws of 1962 that are connected to the Mass are in force... - but that´s another question)...]