Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Did Bishop Peric order Holy Communion to be received on the tongue in Medjugorje?


The Crown of Stars blog, which promotes Medjugorje, is reporting the following:

Fr Leon Pereira OP, the new pastor co-ordinating english-speaking Masses at Medjugorje, has informed pilgrims that the Mostar-Duvno bishop, Ratko Perić, has given orders for pilgrims to receive Holy Communion on the tongue only.

Making the announcement at midday Mass on Sunday, Fr Leon said: “The local bishop has given orders that Holy Communion is to be received on the tongue only, in his diocese. We must respect the local Bishop and I ask my brother priests to respect the authority of the local bishop and be obedient, as this is his directive and this is their local custom and we can’t do what we do back in our own countries.”
I have not confirmed if this is true or not, but we can still look at the matter.

The blog author goes on to quote two paragraphs from Redemptionis Sacramentum - a document which corrected a number of liturgical abuses.  I am going to embolden and underline a relevant piece of the instruction and explain below.

91. In distributing Holy Communion it is to be remembered that “sacred ministers may not deny the sacraments to those who seek them in a reasonable manner, are rightly disposed, and are not prohibited by law from receiving them”. [177] Hence any baptized Catholic who is not prevented by law must be admitted to Holy Communion. Therefore, it is not licit to deny Holy Communion to any of Christ’s faithful solely on the grounds, for example, that the person wishes to receive the Eucharist kneeling or standing. 

92. Although each of the faithful always has the right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, at his choice, [178] if any communicant should wish to receive the Sacrament in the hand, in areas where the Bishops’ Conference with the recognitio of the Apostolic See has given permission, the sacred host is to be administered to him or her. However, special care should be taken to ensure that the host is consumed by the communicant in the presence of the minister, so that no one goes away carrying the Eucharistic species in his hand. If there is a risk of profanation, then Holy Communion should not be given in the hand to the faithful. [179]
Some of those footnotes point to paragraphs 160-161 of the General Instruction, which can be found here. But, the paragraphs above provide the needed clarification.

There are universal norms, and there are local norms for certain things like distribution of Holy Communion.  The universal norm from the General Instruction of the Roman Missal is to receive on the tongue.  In the United States the bishops have the permission of the Holy See to distribute in the hand. (Note that the text I underlined states that a Bishops' Conference may request permission from the Holy See to distribute on the tongue and that such permission must be recognized).  If the bishops of Bosnia and Herzegovina have not requested and received permission for Communion distributed in the hand, then the default is the universal norm of distributing on the tongue.

When traveling, we do not get to take our local norms from the United States with us into other countries; rather, we are subject to the norms in use there.

In all probability,  Bishop Peric is merely reinforcing the universal norm after being made aware of innocent abuses on the part of pilgrims who do not know any better.   Hopefully, this was explained by the priest.

If it helps, Fr. McNamara, at the end of this discussion in his Zenit column, explained:

The indult allowing Communion in the hand was first issued in an instruction, "Memoriale Domini," published May 29 1969. This document allowed the bishops' conference to solicit an indult from the Holy See in order to permit the reception of Communion in the hand. 
Not all bishops' conferences have requested this permission, and the traveling Catholic should be ready to adapt to local customs with respect to posture and mode of receiving Communion
Even when the bishops' conference permits receiving in the hand, the faithful always retain the right to receive on the tongue if they so wish.

Note that while everyone, everywhere, has the right to receive on the tongue, the right to receive in the hand is subject to permission by Bishops' Conferences which must be approved by the Holy See.

Since there is no mention that Bishop Peric said anything about posture (kneeling or standing), there is no need to get into that discussion.  Some years ago I did an exhaustive post series on this subject. Here are several posts.

Part 1: GIRM 160 (Introductory Post)
Part 2: Holy See clarifies GIRM 160 in November of 2000
Part 2.5: US Adapations to GIRM Approved for Submission
Part 3: Holy See Responds to US Adapations with Suggestions 

Part 4: US Bishops on GIRM 160; Vatican Reiterates "no denial of Communion"

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