Avoiding Problems

I see that Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne of Lima, Peru has forbidden Communion received in the hand. Curiously, he blames the clergy for their “relaxed attitude.” If nothing else, this should make lots of Catholics tense.

At Father Z’s site, the notice is enough to spark the usual discussion not only on reception in the hand, but altar rails, female servers, lay EM’s, and other bugaboos.

This would all be much simpler if the Vatican appointed a single priest, say Fr Z, and told everybody else to just stay home and pray on Sunday. There would be no danger of desecration, irreverence, or even rude parking lot behavior.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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14 Responses to Avoiding Problems

  1. Gavin says:

    I find this to be terribly misguided. I’m not a strong advocate of communion on the tongue, but it seems to me this is the kind of change that MUST be bottom-up rather than top-down. The most that can be done by authority would be perhaps for a priest to advocate the practice, maybe say “for Lent perhaps you should consider receiving on the tongue,” or give a hellfire-and-brimstone sermon about what happens to those who drop a particle of the host. But to force it on people will do more to alienate than to strengthen. Now I’m not saying that some DON’T deserve to be run away, but most people who do “condemned practice X” would respond to guidance from the shepherds, rather than just a blunt “DO IT MY WAY!!”

  2. Brian says:

    That picture is almost a parody of something you’d see on TRADITIO. “The First Mass as it REALLY happened!”

  3. Anne says:

    Can this Cardinal really get away with this? If someone approaches with hands out to receive, can they legally be denied? Denying someone communion who is “properly disposed” sounds like a liturgical abuse to me. Yikes, talk about closed minds.

  4. Todd says:

    “That picture is almost a parody of something you’d see on TRADITIO. “The First Mass as it REALLY happened!””

    If it had an altar rail, I think you’d be correct, Brian.

  5. Gavin says:

    I don’t think we can speak of not giving out communion in the hand as “denying” communion. Surely if someone were to approach a minister of communion and wanted the Body put in a Ziploc bag, we wouldn’t consider that “denying” anyone but rather sticking to one of the two approved and practiced methods. All it means is that if you’re in Lima and want to commune, make sure to open your mouth.

    I still say we should stick to intinction, but that will never happen.

  6. Liam says:


    I assume communion in the hand in Peru is, as in the United States, a matter of indult granted upon application to Rome by the conference of bishops. If Peru’s indult is like that of the US, then each ordinary decides whether or not to make use of the indult in his jurisdiction. In such a case, the Cardinal would appear to be within his juridical authority to suspend the use of the indult.

    Communion in the hand remains, in legal terms, an indulted exception to the norm of liturgical law.

  7. Liam says:

    Btw, I would also prefer to see intinction become a more frequently available way to administer the Blessed Sacrament.

  8. Anne says:

    Indult or not, I believe there is a rule that a person who chooses to kneel to receive and not stand with everyone else…cannot be refused communion. Why is receiving in the hand any different? The same rule should apply. Seems to me that if this bishop is experiencing irreverence from people the problem is not communion in the hand but very poor catechesis in his diocese. This is clericalism at it’s best IMO. Anyway, I can’t see the bishops of the US doing this. The majority of lay people in this country would never accept it now.

  9. Liam says:

    The rule about receiving in the hand is indeed different from receiving kneeling or standing. The first is clearly an indult; the latter is a matter of universal law. So a bishop has authority to deal with them differently. We may argue over the prudential wisdom of his decision, of course, but he is the one with the authority to make the decision. Not the pastor. Or us.

  10. Gavin says:

    What I’m wondering is has this bishop actually said anything prior to this? Has he ever encouraged receiving on the tongue? Has he instructed priests to preach on it? Or did he just out of the blue say “no more”?

    Also, does the indult for communion on the hand expire at some date, or is it an indefinite indult?

  11. Liam says:


    The indult in the US, granted by Rome in 1977, has no expiration date, but is still subject to the authority of each ordinary to administer or withdraw, at any time.

    The Pope could, of course, withdraw the indult at any time, but despite the pantings of some I don’t see that happening under B16, who has given communion in the hand even as Pope in Rome, where he could choose on a more limited basis not to do so.

  12. Tony says:

    Liam, thanks for all the clarifications. I concur with you. I believe it would have been better to institute this from the bottom up. As much as I would like to return to the days of the altar rail, this heavy handed approach does more to alienate the faithful (who I believe badly catechized though they are) who need to be treated in a more pastoral manner.

    I think what ought to be addressed is what constitutes “inordinately length of the Mass” for the assignment of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion.

  13. Patrick says:

    intinction seems to be rather misguided. We are present at the Last Supper, in memory of Him. It is not accurately described that Jesus dipped his body into his blood. Of course the fullness of communion can come from either species.

    Receiving in the hand is not encouraged, and has never been encouraged. It is not a practice allowed in many countries. One may ask why, and the answer should be obvious, that the precious particles should be treated with due reverence. We do not want crumbs of Him on our hands, just as we do not wish His blood to take residence in a large beard. Its common sense if one believes in Transubstantiation.

    A reading of relevant documents would make sense of these “rules”, which are not supposed to tie the faithful back, rather motivated with appreciation of tradition and the meaning thereof, to aid the faithful in the way – which is narrow. Sometimes a shepherd must be authoritative, and his flock may wish to listen, with good reason

  14. Patrick says:

    I should correct myself, a morsel of bread is said to have been dipped in wine at the last supper, the mixing of species.

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