PETRUS: Archbp. of Lima on Communion in the hand – NO!

Bruno Volpe on Petrus has an interview with the Archbishop of Lima, Peru, H.E. Juan Luis Card. Cipriani Thorne.  He says something rather astonishing.

CITTA’ DEL VATICANO – Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne, Archbishop of Lima and Primate of Peru, authoritative representative of the Sacred College and of Opus Dei, and one of the great experts of the Catholic Church in moral theology and liturgy.  And it is precisely on the theme of liturgy, so current in this time, the Cardinal willingly took some questions from Petrus.

Your Eminence, what is true liturgy?

I will be brief: it is the pure face of the Faith.  This isn’t mere exteriority or respect for formal rules, but in the liturgy the Mystery of Christ, who died and rose, is celebrated with joy.  And so, it is important to celebrate Holy Mass worthily and correctly, with a liturgy faithful to the canons of the Church, above all for respect for Jesus.  I appreciate, in that sense, the continuous appeals of the Holy Father Benedict XVI for respect for the decorum of the liturgy.

In the last years there has been noted a worrying escalation of liturgical abuses.  How do you explain this negative trend?

The idea of sin has been lost, and so also the Sacrifice of Holy Mass has been mistreated and undervalued in currents of thought, also within the Church, that justify and tolerate everything creating a debatable circular and assembly-like dimension for the Eucharistic ceremony.  Then, and I believe this is partly the fault of the Roman Curia after Vatican II, there was a relaxed attitude, above all in interpretation, regarding the Council.  It is urgently necessary to remedy this situation; I believe that the vertical dimension of the Eucharist is absolutely necessary because the faithful can grasp the great gift of Christ.  Surely, the faithful are at risk of being only scandalized and driven away with the so-called "show-Masses" in which there are committed, in the name of freedom and creativity, every sort of wickedness.

Let us come to the manner of administering Communion…

Even in this matter that relaxed attitude of many priests has made ridiculous in the eyes of Catholics the value of the Eucharist.  Personally, I retain that it best way to administer Communion is on the tongue, so much that in my diocese I have forbidden the Host in the hand.  In Masses with great attendance, in the past we even found Hosts thrown onto the pavement of the Church.

Petrus is worried about the Neocatechumenate: the Journey has aroused admiration but also worry and suspicion.

I don’t doubt that the intentions of the Neocatechumens are praiseworthy and they are really searching fr God with fervor and joy.  And I think that there must be started a healthy and at the same time firm dialogue with them in truth.  The Vatican itself is trying to find a solution for approving their statutes.  In any event, in the celebration of Holy Mass on the part of Neocatechumens there are certain aspects that I absolutely do not share.  I call to mind and repeat that the liturgy is unique and must be respected by everyone in the same way.  Indeed, tolerance, of course, for Neocatechumens, but it is the competence of the Church to call them back to respect for the Eucharist.


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  1. Wow, those are some strong statements there.

  2. jarhead462 says:

    Semper Fi, Your Eminence!

  3. Gustavo Ráez-Patiño says:

    Well, I live in the Archdiocese of Lima and I have seen many communions in the hand in many parishes, even those run by diocesan priests. Perhaps His Emminence is talking about his Masses at the Cathedral, where I have never seen Communion distributed in the hand.

    I would love to see such an order issued for the entire archdiocese!

  4. Mark Tan says:

    Reverence for the liturgy is lacking. This horizontalism turns the church into a social club. Reverence for the True Presence of Christ is also lacking. It saddens me when priests refuse to clean the vessels after communion properly, pouring the blood of Christ from one chalice to another, allowing parishioners to intinct the host themselves, which many times have cause the blood of Christ to be spilt on the floor. I was once denied communion on the tongue in the cathedral of my diocese. It’s really sad. I totally support his eminence and his statements here!

  5. Bigt says:

    Anyone have evidence that supports the article? Could be true that he forbids it, but some parishes ignore the good Cardinal. Even if Communion on the tongue is only done in the Cathedral I think that’s at least a pretty good basis. If Pope Benedict sets the norms for the Church at large, the Cathedral sets the liturgical norms for the diocese!

  6. Emilio says:

    Gustavo – I had heard before that Cardinal Cipriani has maintained the prohibition on communion in the hand, as every ordinary has the right to – so it’s not just a policy in his Cathedral or for his Masses only. In my own native diocese of León, Nicaragua, the same prohibition is in force – yet several priests are in violation of it and allow the faithful to receive in the hand, or even encourage it! Kudos to His Eminence!

  7. Jeff Pinyan says:

    “The idea of sin has been lost, and so also the Sacrifice of Holy Mass has been mistreated and undervalued…”

    That’s an excellent point: if we fail to recognize sin, we no longer see the need for a sacrifice for sin, and the Holy Mass becomes the Mess Hall.

  8. Gustavo Ráez-Patiño says:


    Indeed, every ordinary has the power of issuing such an order. I am just telling what I have seen. Then it means that all of those priests are disobeying the bishop. Well, at least in his Cathedral the order is obeyed.
    Long live Cardinal Cipriani!

  9. Woody Jones says:

    As I noted on another blog, Cardinal Cipriani, for whom I have the highest (and i do mean highest, next to the Holy Father) regard, is not just a pious churchman but also a former Peruvian basketball all star, who on his trip to San Antonio for the archiepiscopal consecration of his fellow Opus Dei priest, Archbishop Jose Gomez(still known to some of us as “Father Jose”), also went over to shoot some hoops with the Spurs (and give them a blessing). The Opus Dei priest who drove him around town there in S.A. told me later that he believed the seesion with the Spurs was the highlight of Cardinal Cipriani’s trip for him.

  10. Gordon says:

    The Cardinal of Lima is to be commended for his thought on this, & one would hope for the practice to be banned everywhere. Another point His Eminence raised was the lack of reverence being destructive to faith. I have always maintained that the spiritual damage the liturgical situation causes to souls is one of the main reasons we need order in the Mass. It is after all divine worship, & sacred. When clergy and bishops lose sight of this, then everything else begins to unravel. I may have been misunderstood recently when taking issue with moralizing bishops (one whose diocese I named but shouldn’t have) I was alluding to the fact these moralizing prelates don’t mention God once nor sin, penance, forgiveness, etc. It is just a nice social moral order, precicesly because they have lost this sense of the sacredness of the liturgy. If only they will admit they allowed themselves to be carried away too far by the “spirit of the Council” for that is what happened, then we could begin to have some order restored, & more bishops might follow the Primate of Peru. Perhaps we are guilty of not praying enough for our priests & bishops. Many will not change & follow Benedict XVI without our praying for them!

  11. Alleluia :) Good news! Shame to any priest who is disobeying the Cardinal on this manner. I’m saddened by seeing Communion in the Hand at the papal Mass right now :(. But this brings joy. I believe some places in Argentina, as well as the mentioned Nicuragua and Peru have the ban on Communion in the Hand in place.

  12. Jim Dorchak says:

    I was so dissappointed to see so many recieve “IN THE PAW” (from the Holy Father) at nationals stadium. What gall on the part of the recipients.

    It is the norm now, (is that not exciting?) which leads one to believe that most Catholics do not believe in the true presents. I am so pleased we are so multi cultural, which smacks of no culture.

    Jim Dorchak

  13. IT’s not the norm, but granted by indult here in the United States. (as with everywhere else)…what I wouldn’t give to see it removed….(the local ordinary has the power to do that of course)…but what I wouldn’t give to see this indult removed…I may not call him JP the great, but to my knowledge I do remember him removing the indult when he came here to the US for the papal Masses…(feel free to correct me if I’m wrong)…If I ever became bishop, Communion in the hand would be he first thing to go….You’d think that people would not receive on the hand from the Holy Father

  14. SM says:

    Benedict XVI can not even mandate to put the altar rails back into churches to let people kneel and receive communion on the tongue without having to say Amen before putting the tongue out.

  15. SM: Well, he can, (and one would hope after something this atrocious that he would)…we do need to be praying that he has the strength to put these things into action. (and as I said earlier, maybe being here will speed it up)

  16. Carl says:

    Is anyone aware of the abuses that the neocats have in celebrating mass? I only know one priest from that organization well, and while he doesn’t celebrate ad orientem (:p), his masses have always been reverent in my consertive eyes.

  17. malcolm says:

    neo-cats celebrate Mass with the altar in the centre of the church and hand around a plate with the consecrated hosts for each person to take communion.

    From John Allen’s column of 12/23/05

    A new letter from the Congregation for Divine Worship demands that the Neocatechumenal Way, a program for catechetical formation launched in 1960s Spain by Kiko Arguello and Carmen Hernandez, adjust its liturgical practice to the general norms of the church.
    The letter, whose contents were reported Thursday, Dec. 22, by Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli, is seen as a step towards full recognition of the movement by the Vatican.

    As anyone who has attended a Neocatechumenate Mass knows, there are several idiosyncratic features. Typically Mass is celebrated Saturday night, not Sunday, and just for the Neocatechumenate community rather than the entire parish. The “Sign of Peace” comes before the presentation of gifts, sometimes parts of the Eucharistic prayers are omitted, often lay people deliver remarks that resemble a homily, and communion is usually administered while seated.

    The new Vatican letter demands that at least once a month, members of the Neocatechumenate celebrate Mass on Sunday during the normal parish liturgy; that all the prescribed prayers be followed; that a priest or deacon deliver the homily; and that communion be administered while standing or genuflecting, all in accord with general liturgical norms.

    Some minor concessions are offered. Laypeople may still deliver reflections at the Mass (called “resonances”), as long as it’s not confused with the homily. The congregation also gives the Neocatechumenate two years to bring its practice on communion in line with the norms.

  18. Carl says:

    Thank you, Malcolm. I wonder if I was mistaken in thinking my priest is a neocat. He is a missionary to our diocese, having gone through our Redemptorist Mater seminary. I thought the Redemptorist Maters and the neocats were linked, but perhaps I am mistaken. Thanks again for the info.

  19. Séamas says:

    Well, the Holy Father doesn’t seem to have a problem with Communion in the hand, at least not in the past when he was a Cardinal. Here is what he said in “God and the World”:

    “I wouldn’t want to be fussy about [Communion in the hand]. It was done in the early Church. A reverent manner of receiving Communion in the hand is in itself a perfectly reasonable way to receive Communion.”

    Perhaps when he has had more opportunity to study and reflect on the, he will better understand the problem. Pulling out the old “it was done in the early Church” line seems to me to be beneath a man of his sensitivity and intelligence. That makes me think maybe he hadn’t really thought about the issue much at the time of his comments.

    Archbishop Ranjith has said that the practice needs to be reviewed, and he believes we should return to the practice of Communion in the mouth. I can only say “Amen!” I think perhaps we should write respectful letters to the CDWDS explaining why we believe he is correct. I think the Holy Father will be sympathetic once he understands–if he doesn’t already by now–the reasoning of those who oppose it, both in terms of reverence and sign value, and also the very real problems that we have all seen result from it in terms of protecting the Blessed Sacrament from abuse and accidents.

    Here’s a link to Archbishop Ranjith’s comments:

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