Redemptionis Sacramentum 164

The issue in rural and urban parishes that once had priests but now do not is a bit different from mission territories which may never have had resident clergy. People remember the Eucharist. They recall the “better” days, if you will. It is difficult to dial back the clock to pre-Vatican II days.

A bishop is responsible for parishes for which the diocese cannot provide a priest.

[164.] “If participation at the celebration of the Eucharist is impossible on account of the absence of a sacred minister or for some other grave cause,” [Cf. Code of Canon Law 1248 § 2; Christi Ecclesia 1-2] then it is the Christian people’s right that the diocesan Bishop should provide as far as he is able for some celebration to be held on Sundays for that community under his authority and according to the Church’s norms. Sunday celebrations of this specific kind, however, are to be considered altogether extraordinary. All Deacons or lay members of Christ’s faithful who are assigned a part in such celebrations by the diocesan Bishop should strive “to keep alive in the community a genuine ‘hunger’ for the Eucharist, so that no opportunity for the celebration of Mass will ever be missed, also taking advantage of the occasional presence of a Priest who is not impeded by Church law from celebrating Mass”. [Ecclesia de Eucharistia 33]

“Some celebration” is usually not a Communion service. Many US bishops have directed that Communion not be distributed on Sundays.

When I was in rural Iowa, and if a Mass was scheduled and a priest unable to reach town, that was the circumstance in which we were permitted to have a Word & Communion service.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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