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Diocese limits Communion under both kinds, laments excessive extraordinary ministers

September 22, 2011

The Diocese of Phoenix has announced that it will issue norms specifying the conditions under which Holy Communion may be distributed under both species.

“The new norms will promote unity in the celebration of the Eucharist all around the world, and come from the revised General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 3rd Edition, together with the final edition of The Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds for the Dioceses of the United States of America,” the diocese stated in a press release.

“In the Roman Missal (1975), 14 instances were provided when the chalice could be offered to the laity,” the diocese noted. “From 1975 on, the United States, United Kingdom and Oceania were given experimental privileges for the distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds. These privileges expired in 2005 and were not renewed by the Holy See. The new norms issued in June 2011 are what guide the liturgical practice today and in the future.”

“These universal norms for the distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds greatly expanded those times when the chalice could be offered to the lay faithful for most of the Catholic world (since in most countries their practice was virtually non-existent),” the diocesan statement continued. “In the Diocese of Phoenix, like other places where the practice of reception from the chalice became frequent or even commonplace, the new norms call for the practice of less frequent distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds than the faithful may have been accustomed.”

The ritual books state that Holy Communion may be offered at the Chrism Mass and feast of Corpus Christi. Additionally, it may be offered to a Catholic couple at their wedding Mass, to first communicants and their family members, confirmation candidates and their sponsors, as well as deacons, non-concelebrating priests, servers and seminarians at any Mass, as well as community members at a conventual Mass or those on a retreat or at a spiritual gathering. In addition, a priest may select other important solemnities in which it may be offered, e.g., parish patronal feast days or the celebration of the dedication of the church building, provided the conditions are met.

“In normal circumstances, only priests and deacons are to distribute Holy Communion,” the diocese added; “when both forms of Communion are used frequently, ‘extraordinary’ ministers of Holy Communion are disproportionately multiplied.”


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  • Posted by: - Sep. 23, 2011 2:19 PM ET USA

    Bernadette, My response was to "Defender's" Sound Off comment only. On the point: what is more important a fuller sign or fewer lay ministers? I vote for the fuller sign. Celebrating well seems to require doing all the sacramental i.e. "outward" signs well and beautifully. Our four weekend masses have both species at two. We sing often in Latin.

  • Posted by: Bernadette - Sep. 23, 2011 10:14 AM ET USA

    So, what's your point, MHB? We are talking about receiving Holy Communion under the appearance of bread only. I don't see where the placement of the tabernacle is questioned or anything about genuflections in this press release from the Diocese of Phoenix.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 22, 2011 8:47 PM ET USA

    Reminder: GIRM calls for one genuflection at the beginning of mass and one at the end only. No less and no more. Ideally the blessed sacrament is in a special chapel designated for adoration. This is often seen in ancient cathedrals. That is the tradition!

  • Posted by: Japheth - Sep. 22, 2011 8:29 PM ET USA

    I agree that there are issues with EM's and carelessness among communicants, but there's another problem here. People with Celiac Disease cannot receive the Host unless its a specifically made low-gluten version. Many celiac sufferers receive solely from the Cup since it's a complete Communion. Taking the Cup away means no Communion at most Masses for these people.

  • Posted by: Defender - Sep. 22, 2011 7:13 PM ET USA

    Would this mean that we won't have to look at how underdressed the extraordinary ministers are and how they don't acknowledge the Blessed Sacrament as they pass by (though it is hidden from plain view)? Returning to the days of my youth when one rarely received under both species is fine with me - I never changed anyway.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Sep. 22, 2011 2:31 PM ET USA

    Omigosh! Could Bishop Olmstead please e-mail a copy to my bishop?