Midst the delicacy and ingenuity of his language we find what Pope Benedict XVI offers us.
“Our handling of the Eucharist can only arouse concern” writes Pope Benedict XVI in his essay ‘ The Church and the Scandal of Sexual Abuse:’
“The Second Vatican Council was rightly focused on returning this Sacrament of the Presence of the Body and Blood of Christ, of the Presence of His Person, of His Passion, Death and Resurrection, to the center of Christian life and to being
the very existence of the Church.
In part, this has really come about, and we should be most grateful to the Lord for it, and yet a rather different attitude is prevalent.
What predominates is not a new reverence for the presence of Christ’s death and resurrection, but a way of dealing with Him …
that destroys the greatness of the Mystery.” Pope Emeritus Benedict XVII
Is the “very existence” of the Church threatened by downplaying the existence of her mystery and her supernatural aspect?
Don Federico Botoli, whose book La Distribuzione della Comunione sulla mano (The Distribution of Communion in the Hand, which he wrote for his doctoral dissertation in Canon Law, was interviewed by the website One Peter Five about this matter:
OP5: The key document relative to the distribution of Holy Communion in the hand is the instruction of the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship ‘Memoriale Domini’ (May 29, 1969), issued at the direction of Paul VI. can you tell us how this document originated and what directives it contained?
DFB: The document originated because in the years immediately following Vatican II, the practice of receiving Communion in the hand became widespread in many countries. This was obviously a liturgical abuse, which put its roots down in those countries where there was already doctrinal problems regarding the Holy Eucharist: Belgium, Holland, France, and Germany. The Holy See, not succeeding in stopping this abuse, decided to consult all the bishops on this question. The decision of Paul VI already allows us to understand the importance of the argument. I say this, because some would maintain that this whole question is only of marginal importance.
OP5: And what resulted from this consultation?
DFB: The majority of bishops expressed their opposition to the introduction of this practice. M.D. acknowledged the outcome of the consultation and confirmed that the universal norm for receiving Communion is precisely that of receiving it directly on the tongue, giving profound reasons for it. At the same time, (Memoriale Dei) consented that the Bishops conference of those places in which the abuse was already occurring would be able to request an indult for Communion in the hand, if the bishops were able to achieve a vote of a two thirds majority in favor of requesting it.
OP5: M.D. thus confirmed that the two ways of receiving the Eucharist are not on the same level?
Absolutely. In my book, I examine the entire text of the instruction, which when read, clearly is understood to say that the traditional and universal discipline of the Church is that of Communion on the tongue, because “it is based on a centuries-old tradition, but especially because it expresses and signifies the reverent respect of the faithful towards the Holy Eucharist.” Furthermore “it avoids the danger of profaning the Eucharistic species. Communion on the tongue is recommended in M.D. Communion on the hand is permitted, provided that certain precautions are observed such as checking to see if any fragments of the Host remain in the palm of the hand.”
Have we ever seen the priest or the Eucharistic Minister checking for fragments of the host in the palm of the hands of the recipient of the Host?
St. Thomas Aquinas writes: “out of reverence towards this Sacrament, nothing touches it but what is consecrated; hence the corporal and the chalice are consecrated, and likewise the priest’s hands, for touching this Sacrament. Hence, it is not lawful for anyone else to touch it except from necessity, for instance, if if were to fall upon the ground, or else in some other case of urgency.” (Summa Theologiae, III, 82 3)
What did Pope Benedict XVI say about this matter when he was Pope?
- In his encyclical Sacramentum Caritatis, (Sacrament of Love) he cited Saint Augustine: “No one eats that Flesh without first adoring it, we should sin were we not to adore it” (Enarrationes in Psalmos 98 9).
- In continuity with the teaching of his Predecessor, starting with the Solemnity of Corpus Christ in the year 2008, the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, began to distribute to the faithful the Body of Christ by placing it directly on the tongue of the faithful as they remain kneeling.
- In the year 2000, the then Cardinal Ratzinger, in ‘The Spirit of the Liturgy (Ignatius Press 2000 p.90) assured that “Communion only reaches true depth when it is supported and surrounded by adoration” For this reason Cardinal Ratzinger maintained that the “practice of kneeling for Holy Communion has in its favor a centuries-old tradition, and it is a particularly expressive sign of adoration, completely appropriate in light of the true, real and substantial presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ under the consecrated species”
- Pope Benedict also cites the Desert Fathers, in ‘The Spirit of the Liturgy’ speaking of “a story that comes from the sayings of the Desert Fathers, according to which the devil was compelled by God to show himself to a certain Abba Apollo. He looked black and ugly , with frightening thin limbs, but, most strikingly he had no knees. The inability to kneel is seen as the very essence of the diabolical.”
In his essay ‘The Church and the Scandal of Sexual Abuse’ Pope Emeritus further cements his concern for the essence of what Communion in the hand while standing is: “The Eucharist is devalued into a mere ceremonial gesture when it is taken for granted and when courtesy requires Him to be offered at family celebrations or on occasions such as weddings and funerals to all those invited for family reasons. Therefore, when thinking about what action is required first and foremost …
It is rather obvious that we do not need another Church of our own design. Rather, what is required first and foremost is the renewal of the Faith in the Reality of Jesus Christ given to us in the Blessed Sacrament.”
Is Benedict XVI referring to Vatican II as producing ‘another Church of our own design?
Is he saying that Communion in the hand is wrong?