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November 21, 2007


Easter Dates

If you are interested as an individual to take a step towards Christian Unity you can sign the petition to unite the dates of Easter at www.onedate.org

David Green

And you thought the Catholic Church was exempt from the Pentecostals?


Join the Episcopal Church is eradication!!

Bernard Brfandt

I hold no brief either for or against the distribution of the Holy Eucharist in the hand, as I am not a Roman Catholic, but an Eastern Catholic.

While it is certain, from a reading of the post apostolic and pre-nicene Fathers, that such distribution was an early practice in the Church, the Byzantine practice of intinction of the Body with the Blood would make such a return to that early practice unfeasible, or at the very least, rather messy.

Nonetheless, from an Eastern point of view, the resumption of the practice after the Second Vatican Council appears to be yet another triumph of reasoned principles over the development of Tradition, rather like the demand for a celibate clergy back in the thirteenth century, or the use of unleavened bread in the ninth.

As always, it is a pleasure reading your essays.

Fr Tim Finigan

A plain reading of Memoriale Domini supports the comment that it rejected communion in the hand ("the Holy Father has decided not to change the existing way of administering holy communion to the faithful"). Exceptions were to be allowed if a Bishops' Conference asked. Pope Paul VI did not authorise communion in the hand "in principle" - he rejected it in principle because communion on the tongue "expresses the faithful's reverence for the Eucharist". Nevertheless he allowed it in practice.

Such a decision is the object of legitimate criticism, I think. You have misrepresented Archbishop Ranjith's comments by implying that he referred to communion in the hand as a "heresy".

Spirit of Vatican II

Dear Fr Finegan, a "plain reading" of Roman documents is perhaps not as simple as you imagine -- as indeed the fate of the recent Motu Proprio shows. Some hermeneutics is required. In any case no very difficult hermeneutics is needed to see that the document gives the green light to communion in the hand. Paul VI expresses a preference for communion in the mouth, but clearly accedes to demands for communion in the hand, laying down the process for authorising it (and the precise methods of its implementation, in the Osservatore Romano letter). He also says that communion in the hand can have the same theological dignity as communion in the mouth. You could say that he sees communion in the mouth as the ordinary form and communion in the hand as the extraordinary form.

Someone is quoting an alleged statement of John Paul II that only the priest is allowed to touch the sacred species. Such a statement makes little sense given the actual practice of the church (lay ministers of the Eucharist), and indeed given the role of laity in taking the Eucharist as viaticum to the sick in older times. In any case, a single statement of a Pope cannot override the authority of a formal magisterial utterance such as Memoriale Domini.

To say that there is a contradiction between Paul VI's principles and his practice is insulting to his intelligence and competence. It also implies that the bishops who took up the Pope's offer were acting with no basis in principle, which again is rather insulting. The acceptance of the practice of receiving communion in the hand by the people of God is also dismissed as of no account.

(By the way, Paul VI at the 1971 Synod offered the bishops the opportunity to allow the ordination of married men, at the Pope's discretion, in certain circumstances. To Paul's surprise the Synod turned this down. Paul VI greatly respected the authority of bishops, as shown by his response to the episcopal conferences' reception of Humanae Vitae. Since 1978 there has been a systematic undercutting of episcopal authority, very much against the spirit of the Council. And as a retired Australian bishop has recently pointed out, the concentration of power in Roman hands has not been accompanied by the responsible exercise of that power, leaving a huge void of leadership in the case of the sex abuse scandals.)

In sharp contrast to Memoriale Domini, Archbishop Ranjith associates communion in the hand with loss of faith in the Real Presence. Thus he sees the practice, if not as heretical, at least as haeresi proximum.

Of course my opening flourish about Heresy stalking the land is satirical -- "I must have my sport" as Dr Johnson would say. The point of the satire is that Abp Ranjith is quite famous as a heresy hunter, as the luckless Tissa Balasuriya can attest.

Let me say that the tone of aggressive polemic against well-meaning bishops and even popes adopted by the fans of the Motu Proprio brings them into close proximity to the schismatic Bishop Bernard Fellay and confirms the worst fears of their opponents. If the TLM enthusiasts played their cards more serenely they would have greater success. As it stands, most priests and bishops, like Cardinal Martini, will continue to feel that to celebrate the TLM is to betray Vatican II.

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