Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Archbishop of Bologna, Cardinal Caffarra - Decree on Holy Communion (on the Tongue)

Catholic News Agency reported on May 11th that an Italian Archbishop, Carlo Caffarra had suspended Communion in the hand to avoid abuses of the Eucharist.

This unofficial, third-party translation of a decree by Carlo Cardinal Caffarra of Bologna, Italy was just emailed to me. It is dated April 29th, 2009 and it comes less than one year after the release of Dominus Est - a liturgical-historical look at reception of Holy Communion in the Church by Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan.
This translation is rough, but you get the gist of what His Emminence is communicating. The decree, in it's original Italian, can be found on Zenit.

Emphases mine in bold... my notes bracketed in red

Directions about the distribution of the Eucharist

Decree of 27 April 2009

Since the times of its very origins, the apostolic Church has expressed its own faith persuasion that the disciples meet with the risen Christ, experience him in the first day after Saturday listening to the Word of God and its explanation and breaking the Eucharistic bread (see also Le 24, 13-35; Al 20, 7-12). Saint Justin, in his I Apologia, in #67, testifies the further development of this usual procedure.

The preaching of the Apostles, then, illustrated to the faithful the greatness of the Sacrament of the altar and the necessary mood that is necessary to take profitably part in it, without risking to eat and drink one’s own eternal condemnation (see 1 Cor 11, 29), but on the contrary so that eating that bread, Body of Christ given for the life of the world, the ones who believe can have eternal life (see John 6, 51).

Therefore, it is precise duty of the apostle [probably referring to apostolic successors - the bishops] to often exhort the Christians so that they can worthily receive the Body of Christ, shaping their own lives on the image of the One who is received in the Sacrament.

The devotion and the interior veneration with which the faithful approach the Eucharist reveals [perhaps, "is revealed"] also externally in the way they receive the consecrated Bread.

The shepherds’ catechesis must never miss to linger over the way the Eucharist can be approached in order to avoid as much as possible that the Most Holy Sacrament of Eucharist be treated with superficiality or even in a disrespectful way, or even worse, sacrilegious.

We must in fact realize that unfortunately many cases of profanation of the Eucharist have occurred, profiting by the possibility to receive the consecrated Bread on one’s palm of the hand, mostly, but not only, during big celebrations or in big churches attended by a great number of occasional faithful.

For such reason, it is necessary to watch on at the moment of the Holy Communion, sticking to the observance of the common rules that are well known to everybody.

The distribution of the Eucharist be done in a quiet and orderly way, be done first of all by the ordered ministers (priest and deacon); only in their absence, by ministers established with this very goal (acolyte). Only in really exceptional cases make use of other established ministers (lector), of nuns or of well prepared laymen.

During the Holy Communion the altar servers support the minister checking as closely as possible that each faithful, after receiving the consecrated Bread, eats it immediately in front of the minister himself and that for no reason the consecrated Bread be taken to one’s seat or put into one’s pockets, bags or anywhere else, nor fall to the ground and be trampled on. [If you could only see the patens used at Mass and the many crumbs, you would realize that Our Lord is being trampled on every day. A dry Communion Host can easily be put into a pocket. Intinction requires that Communion be received on the tongue].

The Eucharist, in fact, is the most precious gift that the Church preserves, alive presence of Our Risen Lord; all the faithful must feel called to do any possible effort so that This Presence [not the caps] be honoured first of all with one’s life and, then, with the external signs of our worship.

Anyway, taken into account the frequency with which we have been told of disrespectful behaviours in the act of receiving the Eucharist, we order that starting from today in the Metropolitan Church of S. Peter, in the Basilica of S. Petronius and in the Shrine of the Holy Virgin of S. Luke in Bologna the faithful receive the consecrated Bread only from the hand of the minister directly on their tongue.

In addition, we recommend all the priests to admonish the people they are in charge of, of the necessity to be in the grace of God in order to be allowed to receive the Eucharist and of the great respect that is due to the Sacrament of the Altar: through their catechesis, preaching, keen and loving celebration of the Holy Mysteries, educating the faithful to worship the God who made himself a man with their own lives and with the participation, that requires the highest care, even in gestures, of the Lord’s table.

We finally exhort the faithful to do any effort in order that the Eucharist, spring and top of all Christian life, be always more loved and worshipped, recognizing in It the presence itself of the Son of God among us.

Bologna, from the Archbishop Residence, 27 April 2009



Where to get Dominus Est :

Note: I have found some selling this on Amazon.com for as much as $43. This can be purchased for about $7-8 in a few places:


In the US: At Newman House Press, and Opus Angelorum bookstore


In the UK: At Eden






Past posts on Dominus Est and Bishop Scneider, and Communion on the tongue:





Te Deum Laudamus! Home



The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!

2 comments:

Kneeling Catholic said...

Thanks for posting this! I'll put a link to it from my 'blog'

I love the name of your blog!

K. C.

Marco de Puna said...

I purchased a copy from Opus Angelorum for $7 plus shipping.

A wonderful and insightful book. Highly recommended reading for all interested in bringing back reverence into the church and our spiritual life.