The USCCB Committee on Divine Worship has issued new guidelines it says are designed to limit the spread of the Coronavirus in the United States. The guidelines include a directive to receive Holy Communion in the hand rather than on the tongue. A number of dioceses have already begun to implement the new guidelines, including Chicago, Charlotte, North Carolina and Honolulu.
Fr. John Zuhlsdorf points-out in a recent blog post that he suspects, at least in some cases, Bishops will use these guidelines as an excuse to prohibit the reception of Communion on the tongue within their dioceses. He then goes on to explain why, in his personal experience, he believes it is more safe (not to mention more reverent) to receive Communion on the tongue versus in the hand. Bishop Athanasius Schneider has also argued that “Communion in the mouth is certainly less dangerous and more hygienic compared to Communion in the hand.”
In a later post, Fr. Z goes on to explain that Redemptionis Sacramentum, a 2004 Instruction of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, guarantees the right of Catholics to receive Holy Communion on the tongue.
[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”. 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, 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.
Finally, we have this 2009 letter from the Vatican during the time of the Swine Flu epidemic that reaffirms a Catholic’s right to receive Communion on the tongue. Don’t be bullied into receiving Holy Communion in the hand. If you are refused Communion on the tongue, let us know.
- Portland Archdiocese – Coronavirus or no, Communion Can Be Received on the Tongue
- Sante Fe’s Archbishop John Charles Wester Tries Banning Communion on the Tongue
I have found that when I give Holy Communion on the tongue I don't have contact with the parishioner. But in the hand I touch every time.
— Padre Brad Sweet, PhD (Ed), PhD (Th) (@BradBradsweet) March 9, 2020