I haven’t been hearing too much about Swine Flu these days… but I suppose it is still around.
This question is from a reader:
I attended an Ordination Mass at ___ in ___ this past Saturday. Prior to Communion, the Pastor made an announcement that the Bishop has mandated Communion only be distributed in the hand, due to the Swine Flu. The Pastor stated that no person would be allowed to receive Communion on the tongue.
During Communion, a number of people (including myself) refused to present their hands, and were eventually given Communion on the tongue. In other parishes in the area, however, the priests are refusing to give Communion other than in the hand.
People are being turned away from the Communion line, without receiving the Blessed Sacrament, because they will not receive Our Lord in the hand. [The priests might say it is because they are obeying the bishop and people are not obeying.]
Is it in the local Bishop’s authority to mandate that Communion only be given in the hand? If I am not mistaken, I thought that the reception of Communion on the tongue was the norm, and that the option to receive on the tongue would always be given to communicants.
Do you have advise for those of us in ___ who are being asked to receive Communion on the hand or not receive Communion at all?
I will refer you to what I wrote before on this topic, here.
After consultation with a friend in the Congregation for Divine Worship, I am more convinced than before that Redemptionis Sacramentum 92 cannot be rescinded or overridden by local authority.
Keep in mind what the Holy See’s document Redemptionis Sacramentum 92 clearly states, namely:
Although each of the faithful always has the right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, at his choice, if any communicant should wish to receive the Sacrament in the hand, in areas where the Bishops’ Conference with the recognitio of the Apostolic See has given permission, the sacred host is to be administered to him or her. However, special care should be taken to ensure that the host is consumed by the communicant in the presence of the minister, so that no one goes away carrying the Eucharistic species in his hand. If there is a risk of profanation, then Holy Communion should not be given in the hand to the faithful.
You may also receive in the hand if you so choose.
In some places/parishes someone who dislikes Communion on the tongue may try to take advantage of the situation and attempt to say that people are forbidden to receive on the tongue.
No one may be prohibited from receiving on the tongue. A lower authority (e.g., bishop, pastor) cannot amend the legislation issued by the Holy See. They can recommend, but they cannot forbid.
At the same time, people should carefully consider their circumstances and consider what is best to do in charity.
Try to determine if the recommendation is reasonable and don’t freak out.
ADVICE: If you cannot obtain from the local authority an explanation of Redemptionis Sacramentum 92, then you have the right to seek a clarification from the Congregation for Divine Worship.
[184.] Any Catholic, whether Priest or Deacon or lay member of Christ’s faithful, has the right to lodge a complaint regarding a liturgical abuse to the diocesan Bishop or the competent Ordinary equivalent to him in law, or to the Apostolic See on account of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff. It is fitting, however, insofar as possible, that the report or complaint be submitted first to the diocesan Bishop. This is naturally to be done in truth and charity.
Antonio Card. Canizares Llovera
Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and
Discipline of the Sacraments
Palazzo delle Congregazioni
P.za Pius XII
00120 VATICAN CITY
It helps to have written documentation of everything that happened.
See also my tips for writing to ecclesiastical authority.