Guidelines for distribution of Holy Communion
Guidelines for distribution of Holy Communion
Why this petition matters
Petition from the People of St. John Neumann
St. John Neumann Church is NOT doing all that can be done to lessen the spread of Covid-19 and other microorganisms, both harmful and harmless. Some of us have approached the Bishop as well as our Administrator on many occasions suggesting several changes to the safety protocols. Unfortunately, our requests have fallen on deaf ears.
A group of us met with our Administrator and reviewed the points from Bishop Zubik’s website about the risks associated with giving Holy Communion on the tongue. Bishop Zubik, along with many other members of the clergy, has warned about the health risks of giving Communion on the tongue.
Three of Bishop Zubik’s statements are:
(1) Priests frequently get saliva on their fingers when they place the host on someone’s tongue'
(2) The risk to the Priest and to the next communicants in line remains far higher when Communion is given on the tongue'.
(3) 'Communion on the tongue carries a much greater danger of spreading the COVID-19 virus through saliva, a primary carrier of the virus.
Some Bishops have ordered the Priests in their Diocese to only give Communion in the hand. One Bishop issued a second warning saying that if a Priest could not obey his first order, he must stop saying public mass. Local pastors have issued written statements that confirm Bishop Zubik’s statements. Regarding Communion on the tongue, Father Charles Bober, Pastor of St. Kilian Parish, wrote “Those distributing Communion in this way often have spittle on their fingers when they distribute the host to the next person in line who consumes the host in their mouth.”
Parishioners with experience in the health care field have also issued statements critical of the practice of giving Communion on the tongue without additional safety precautions. After hearing that Priests and Eucharistic Ministers ‘frequently get saliva on their fingers when they place the host on someone’s tongue', the words most often heard were ‘that’s yucky’ and ‘that disgusting.’ The conclusion is obvious - people do not want another person’s saliva on their Communion host. This is true even when the Covid-19 pandemic is history. One parishioner wrote “It is simply a matter of acceptable hygiene. People do not want someone’s saliva on their Communion. As a retired nurse, I really can’t understand that the practice of receiving Communion on the tongue has been allowed to continue.” The time has come for change.
We have asked that the Priest or Eucharistic Minister sanitize their hands immediately after they give a communicant Communion on the tongue. Our Administrator rejected this and viewed it not to be a problem. We need to collectively reject this response.
A group of parishioners prepared a set of Guidelines for the Distribution of Holy Communion. They are given below. It is our hope that the clergy at St. John Neumann will give serious consideration to these and be willing to discuss them in an open forum.
We are asking for your agreement to this petition which we will give to the Priests and Deacons at St. John Neumann. Thank you.
‘Guidelines for the Distribution of Holy Communion’
(1) The following announcement should be made at Mass until it is no longer considered necessary: "Everyone is strongly encouraged to receive Communion in the hand. Priests and Eucharistic Ministers frequently get saliva on their fingers when they place the Host on someone’s tongue and this saliva can then be transferred to the Hosts in the Ciborium and passed onto those following in line."
(2) Occasionally announce and post the following in the Bulletin: "For those who wish to receive Communion on the tongue, we will either have a separate Communion station for your use or we ask that you wait and go after all others have received on the hand.”
(3) All Clergy and Extraordinary Ministers of Communion must sanitize their hands after they themselves consume Communion and before they distribute to others. The Clergy and Eucharistic Ministers may possibly get their own saliva on their fingers when placing the Host in their own mouth and then contaminate Hosts in the ciborium.
(4) The Priest or Eucharistic Minister must use hand sanitizer after each communicant who receives on the tongue - including the last person in line to receive on the tongue. This is to ensure that saliva is not transferred to the Hosts in the Ciborium. This is to be done whether contact is made or not. Clergy have said that even if no contact is made, the possibility of having the Priest’s fingers being breathed on exists when giving Communion on the tongue.
(5) A small table must be placed at each Communion station, with an unfolded corporal and a bottle of hand sanitizer. There must also be one on or next to the altar for the Priest to use before giving Communion to those on the altar.
(6) All Clergy and Extraordinary Ministers of Communion must sanitize their hands if they make any contact with a communicant or any person while distributing Communion. This includes children and others while giving then a blessing.
(7) Distribution of Holy Communion from the Chalice is prohibited to the assembly. This seems to be a widespread restriction. If the Church is so apprehensive about saliva on the cup, why are they not as concerned about saliva on the fingers of Eucharistic Ministers?
(8) When giving Communion on the hand, the following announcement should be made at Mass with a demonstration "When it is time to receive, approach the EM while he or she shows the Host and says, “The Body of Christ.” Bow slightly, respond ‘Amen’. Extend your arms placing one hand under the other while keeping your fingers flat and together. Do not 'cup' your hands. Do not reach for or attempt to take the Host from the EM. Use only your palm. Do not use your fingers. Receive the Host in your hand, step to the side, consume the Host and return to your pew. If a disability prevents you from holding your hands in the prescribed manner, the EM will bring Communion to you in your pew. Please sit on the aisle and remain seated for reception of the Host." There should be no physical contact with the one who is administering Communion. In addition to showing parishioners the correct way to receive Communion on the hand, many priests and EMs should be instructed on the proper way to distribute Communion on the hand without making contact.
(9) The wearing of masks should be determined by local authorities.
Note: There will often be valid reasons for exceptions to these Guidelines. For example, offering the Precious Blood to those who are not able to consume the Host. The Precious Blood may also be offered to a limited number of communicants - for example the Bride and Groom at their wedding.
St John Neumann is a welcoming and caring family. Let’s show our caring and concern by including your name in this petition. It will be sent to all clergy at St. John Neumann with a copy sent to Bishop David Zubik.
Sincerely, Concerned Catholics
St. John Neumann Catholic Church
2230 Rochester Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15237