QUAERITUR: the bishop/priest ignores the Pope

From a reader:

In our parish in the diocese of ___ our parish priest announced that until further notice there would be no Holy Communion given on the tongue nor would there be a kiss of peace.

When I spoke to him afterwards although he had every sympathy with us he said he must be obedient to the Bishop.The Bishop however is still allowing Holy Communion under both kinds which doesn’t make a great deal of sense to me. Please could you tell us if the Bishop can legally do this. I have never received Holy Communion in the hand.

Since our Bishop ignores the wishes of The Holy Father are we obliged to obey our Bishop ?


I think you at least are obliged not simply to defy the bishop.

I don’t know how to answer these questions except to suggest what I have suggested several times before in regard to Communion in the hand issues… in time of "plague", or whatever this is.

First, Redemptionis Sacramentum says that people may not be denied Communion on the tongue.  Diocesan bishops do not have the authority to override this, since it is something determined by the Holy See.

On the other hand, common sense must be used.  There may be legitimate special circumstances why what the bishop says is a good thing to follow.

I am not an epidemiologist.

If you have had some recourse to the bishop or the bishop has pretty much made it plain that he is not interested in speaking more about this issue, then you can always avail yourself of your right to connect Rome and ask for a clarification, sending copies of your correspondence.

Again, this is one of those situations in which common sense must prevail.

Also, this affords everyone the opportunity to clarify precisely what the law of the Church is in this regard. 

You can use the circumstances to put good information into – sorry about this – people’s hands.

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  1. puella says:

    When I went to Sunday Mass whilst visiting my parents, the parish newsletter said that the Bishop had requested that Communion only be given under one species, and only in the hand (there was no mention of the Sign of Peace). Because I didn’t want to disobey the Bishop, but also felt very uncomfortable with the idea of touching Christ with my hands, I elected to make a Spiritual Communion.

  2. AM says:

    In our (Ontario) diocese, handshaking and the reception of Holy Communion on the tongue are both practically forbidden, by the Bishop. I don’t think it’s a “local law” — just a very strong recommendation, coming along with equally strong social pressure, of course. All the priests and parishes I know about are observing this practice. In our parish there are also some sort of “sanitation stations” near each door. I’

    Like the above commentor, I prefer not to receive Holy Communion during this time.

    I am hoping that the _end_ of the “plague”, when it comes, will be as clearly declared as the “begining” has been. I guess the advantage is that lots of people want to shake hands, so when permission to shake hands is restored, permission to recieve on the tongue will be restored, too. And the socal pressure will be off.

    I hope so, anyway.

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