Thursday, May 07, 2009

Cardinal of Bologna Restricts Communion in the Hand

By way of the Italian blog Cantuale Antonianum we learn that the Archbishop of Bologna, Italy, H.E. Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, has issued new norms for the distribution of Holy Communion in his archdiocese. Here is an NLM translation of the communiqué of the Office for Social Communications of the Archdiocese:

On the first Sunday of Advent twenty years ago, in 1989, entered into force the resolution of the Italian Bishops' Conference which authorised, with the approval of the Holy See, the distribution of Holy Communion in the hand.

In recent weeks, parish priests and rectors of churches in our diocese have received notice of the provisions issued by the Cardinal Archbishop, in the face of grave abuses that have occurred in this regard. In particular, the Cardinal has ordered that in the Cathedral of St. Peter, in the Basilica of San Petronio and in the Shrine of the Madonna di San Luca, Communion is distributed to the faithful on the tongue only.

The possibility that was granted to receive the consecrated Host in the hand may, in fact, create "grave abuses", because there are those "who take away the Sacred Species to keep them as "souvenirs", "who sell them", or even worse "who take them way to desecrate them in satanic rituals." Thus writes, in the letter to the priests which accompanies the provisions of the Cardinal, the Provicar General, Msgr. Gabriele Cavina, citing a text of Msgr. Malcolm Ranjith, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments [NLM note: probably his preface to Bishop Athanasius Schneider's book Dominus est.].

"We must take note", Caffarra Cardinal writes, "that unfortunately there have repeatedly been cases of desecration of the Eucharist taking advantage of the possibility to receive the consecrated Bread on the palm of the hand, above all, but not exclusively, on the occasion of great celebrations or in large churches through which many faithful pass.

"For this reason it is good to monitor the moment of Holy Communion starting from complying with the common rules well known to everyone.

"During Communion", we further read in the decree of the Cardinal, "the servers shall assist the Minister, as far as possible, in ensuring that every faithful, after having received the consecrated Bread, consume it immediately before the Minister, and that it not be for any reason taken back to the seat, or placed in pockets or bags or elsewhere, or fall to the ground and be trampled."

Together with a strong exhortation to vigilance that applies to all priests, the Cardinal has issued the following provision for three churches in the diocese: "considering the frequency in which cases of irreverent behavior in the act of receiving the Eucharist have been reported" - writes the Cardinal - "we dispose that in the Metropolitan Church of St. Peter, the Basilica of San Petronio and the Shrine of the Blessed Virgin of St. Luke in Bologna, the faithful receive the consecrated Bread only from the hands of the Minister directly on the tongue."

This provision is mitigated for the parishes, because, writes Msgr. Cavina, "the faithful are largely known and the parish priest can be more sure of their aptitude to make the act of Communion in the hand with the due respect, and he can from time to time make the appropriate admonitions to continually educate the assembly to participate in the liturgy in an active and conscious manner".