An Argentinian bishop on Communion in the hand

An retired bishop in Argentina, age 92, Most Rev. Juan Rodolfo Laise, O.F.M.Cap. has a book:

HOLY COMMUNION Communion in the Hand: Documents & History – Some Reflections on Spiritual Communion and the State of Grace – 2018 218 pages hardcover $18.00


Here is something from the Preface by the great Bishop Athanasius Schneider, who has recently been told by the Holy See that he shouldn’t travel so much (in other words, his messages while traveling were inconvenient so he should ‘shut up’).

From the Preface of Bishop Schneider: “The Church in our times has the urgent need of courageous voices in defense of her greatest treasure, which is the mystery of the Eucharist. [How true!  Even as The Present Crisis grows, we should be compelled back to the Eucharistic Lord, to adore Him, receive Him well, celebrate His mystery in proper sacred liturgical worship together.  This is the source and summit of our identity.] Often today there arise voices in defense of the many human and temporal needs, but rare are the voices that defend the Eucharistic Jesus. With his book Communion in the Hand, His Excellency Most Rev. Juan Rodolfo Laise, Bishop Emeritus of San Luis (Argentina), has for several years raised his voice in defense of the Eucharistic Lord, showing with convincing argumentation the inconsistency of the modern practice of Communion in the hand from a historical, liturgical and pastoral perspective… I consider it an honor and joy to be able to present this book of the most worthy Bishop Juan Rodolfo Laise, “decus episcoporum Argentinae.” I hope this prophetic voice of an elderly bishop, who has retained his youth and purity of faith [“ad Deum qui laetificat iuventutem meam”] and reverent love for the Eucharistic mystery, may enkindle readers with the same faith and the same love and contribute to the universal restoration of the more sacred and reverent manner of receiving the Lord’s Body.”

Bishop Laise was born on February 22, 1926 in Buenos Aires. He entered the Capuchin Order, in which he received priestly ordination in 1949 when he was only twenty-three years old. Later he obtained his licentiate in canon law from the Gregorian University in Rome, and his doctorate in civil law from the national university of Córdoba (Argentina). In 1969 he was named Provincial Superior of the Capuchins of Argentina.

In 1971 he was appointed by Paul VI coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of San Luis, whose bishop was seriously ill. The clergy of that diocese, although scarce, were deeply divided because of liberation theology. Due to the strong resistance of the ideological and rebellious sector, it was not possible to organize the episcopal consecration in what would be his Episcopal see, but five hundred miles away, in the chapel of a Capuchin school near Buenos Aires. As soon as he became bishop of San Luis, the reaction of the group of highly politicized priests did not delay, and they left the diocese, moving to a neighboring diocese where the environment was more akin to their ideas. Some went even further by directly abandoning the priestly apostolate. This was a blow to the new bishop, who was given a diocese that already had very few priests (there had been no priestly ordinations in the previous eighteen years, and at that time there was only one seminarian). However, his courage and his gifts of government enabled him to find a way to reverse the situation.  [Just a reminder that this war has been hot for a long time.]

Since the beginning he made his priority the care of vocations: their number, and above all their solid formation, creating in 1980 the diocesan seminary “St. Michael the Archangel.” Thirty years later, when he turned seventy-five and had to leave his diocese, there were more than fifty seminarians, and a young and numerous clergy who worked actively in the towns and villages of the province. Similarly, he promoted the installation of various religious congregations. Since the beginning his activity has been multiple and incessant: the foundation of religious houses, of schools, of a Catholic University extension, numerous churches and chapels for the new districts of a province whose population is constantly growing, and the organization of congresses and conferences. The apostolic directives followed one another, in the spirit and decisions of Bishop Laise, at a feverish pace. However, as a Capuchin religious he knew well that activity, even the most noble one such as that of the apostolate, is not fruitful if it does not nourish its roots in contemplation. That is why he also encouraged the establishment in the diocese of contemplative communities. [By their fruits.]

But if in anything he has stood out in a special way, it has been in his Eucharistic piety and devotion, which have been translated in a special way into the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament – which by his express will has been exposed throughout the day in the diocesan Cathedral since the 1980s – and in his care for the organizing of the feast of Corpus Christi, with a procession of the Blessed Sacrament through the streets of the city, and in his homilies for the occasion.

For all these reasons it is understandable that when, in 1996, he found himself confronted with a responsibility, that of making a decision about the possibility of resorting to an indult to give Holy Communion in a less devout manner – which makes less clear the Real Presence and the Priesthood, and which furthermore was obtained through a frontal disobedience to the Pope – he did not ask to avail himself of this, and, in the same way, he more recently has reacted to the possibility of giving Communion to someone who is not in the state of grace. After his retirement in 2001 he returned to the Franciscan conventual life and he chose the Shrine of Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo (Italy), where is found the saint’s venerated tomb. There he spends the mornings hearing the confessions of the pilgrims. He often agrees to travel to occasionally collaborate elsewhere, having performed numerous ordinations for various religious congregations, and accompanied pilgrims to Lourdes, Rome, etc., during these nearly two decades. In the photo on the back of the dust jacket of the book, he is seen on one of those occasions, celebrating a Pontifical Mass on the Altar of the Chair of St. Peter in the Vatican Basilica on October 24, 2015[Summorum Pontificum Pilgrimage]

God bless this bishop.

May God bless all those who are working to restore reverent worship and belief in the Eucharist.


In regard to the new book by Socci about Benedict XVI, sorry, I haven’t yet read it. However, it is available for Kindle in Italian through amazon. I put it on my wish list.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Charles E Flynn says:

    De Mattei Reviews Socci’s Latest Book, Argues that the “Thesis Falls Short”:

  2. Josephus Corvus says:

    Thank you for posting this today Father. It is very timely. Our bulletin this weekend has the Associate Pastor (a product of the 80s seminary) is saying that it is a heresy to want to take Communion only from the priest because that implies that Christ is somehow less in the hands of a “lay distributor” than in those of a priest. He also talked about how wrong it was when he was growing up to assume that only a priest was worthy enough to touch the Host. We’re still touching it with our tongues. We need a few more bishops like Bishop Laise.

  3. exNOAAman says:

    The narration about the Diocese of San Luis greatly shows the importance of holy, orthodox bishops.
    (Nor will anyone here miss the 30 fold increase in ordinations.

  4. stephanusmurlinis says:

    This book was the response of bishop Laise to the Conference of Argentine Bishops decision to allow communion in the hand in 1996 since he was accused by his fellow coleagues of breaking the bishops communion by not allowing it in his diocesis.

    Monsignor Laise’s episcopal motto is Fideliter.

  5. TonyO says:

    Thirty years later, when he turned seventy-five and had to leave his diocese, … After his retirement in 2001 … He often agrees to travel to occasionally collaborate elsewhere, having performed numerous ordinations for various religious congregations, and accompanied pilgrims to Lourdes, Rome, etc., during these nearly two decades.

    It is a sad and indeed a shameful thing that when this bishop submitted his resignation at age 75, that Pope John Paul II accepted it. There was (obviously) no need, from health reasons, and he was (obviously) doing fantastic work in place.

    There is a sense in which it is reasonable to have bishops automatically tender their resignation at a specific age, such as 75, because there are many ways a bishop can be no longer of sound mind at advanced ages, and if he “loses it” it well behooves the pope to replace him. Having a specific age makes it easy for the pope to replace him without contention.

    But the rule that requires a bishop to submit his resignation by no means ties the pope to accepting the offer, and the pope has in the past NOT accepted a resignation , or not immediately, deferring it for some months or a year or two. When a bishop is clearly both in very good health, and in no way compromised in carrying out his apostolic duties, there is no reason for the pope to “automatically” accept the resignation. Any papal practice that turns this rule into an automatic acceptance would be, ipso facto, making the whole process into a bad law. Until this century, nobody imagined having bishops normally retire out of their charge. Millennia passed in which bishops died in place, and that was considered proper. The authority and role of “successor to the Apostles” is not a “day job” that one can retire from as if he were a car mechanic: being consecrated bishop is permanent, and it being placed at the head of a see SHOULD be more than just a temporary position. Here he is 18 years later, probably feeling a knife in his back every time his successor makes bone-headed mistakes that he would have known to avoid, feeling pain for the trials of his people who are suffering from loss of a fantastic bishop for no good reason.

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