Father Spadaro and the Confusing "Minister of the Eucharist" -- The Introduction of Calvinist Hand Communion
(Mexico City) Sources of information about the pastoral visit of Pope Francis to Mexico includes the Twitter account of the Jesuit priest, Antonio Spadaro. Spadaro is the editor of the Roman Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica . He is considered to be one of those closest personal friends to the Argentine Pope. On September 2013 he published the first media interview with Francis.
The editor is very active on Twitter and sends short messages several times a day, including on the Pope's Mass in Ecatepec in Mexico City. So he also sent the above picture and wrote: "Ministri dell'Eucaristia" (Minister of the Eucharist). Such designation is explicitly rejected by the current provisions.
"Ministers of the Eucharist" are priests only, as the instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum 2004 reaffirmed. Did Father Spadaro mistake the "minister of the Eucharist" with communion helpers? A lapse or Freudian slip?
The picture shows namely without doubt extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, which are briefly mentioned in the German extraordinary minister of holy communion. It is to lay people who may be appointed in urgent need case, what the Pope's Mass was the case yesterday in Ecatepec.
Extraordinary ministers of holy communion: precedent for current interest?
The introduction of the extraordinary minister of holy Eucharist is regarded as a precedent for a mechanism to establish changes in the Church.
In 1964 the Berlin Ordinarienkonferenz, the forerunner of the later Berlin Bishops' Conference, which included the bishops of the Communist GDR, issued by Rome's permission to employ "suitable laymen" the diaspora areas for Communion at home worship. The measure was justified to serve the far-flung areas. In 1966 the exemption was extended. But then something amazing happened.
Although the measure for a given area was granted on the basis of a specific "emergency", it was dealt with in 1967 by the Pope Paul VI. approved instruction Eucharisticum Mysterium in its extension to the entire world Church. The GDR with its diaspora situation was atypical of the Catholic world. Because of the communist dictatorship and the isolation by the Wall, the situation there was also withdrawn from the direct view of the world public. Nevertheless, it served as a trial run which was totallly justified with a total ecclesiastical decision.
The situation is reminiscent of today's Amazon workshop and the attempt to receive permission there to allow married "viri probati" ordination because of the alleged lack of priests. According to the ideas of the promoters, the "Amazon model" could be just as quickly extended to the entire Catholic Church. An exceptional situation serves to introduce an exemption. It's a breach in the wall that will quickly lead to the complete dam break.
As a result of the introduction of Communion, priests in some churches no longer distribute Communion to let the layman take precedence. More often, there is no clear need for an extraordinary minister of holy communion, yet they are used. Even when in papal liturgies it already comes to an undignified treatment of the body of Christ, as the World Youth Day 2013 in Rio de Janeiro or at the Pope's Mass in Manila in January, 2015.
The Effective Rules for Communion Helpers
The Roman permission stressing the exceptional status: the layman is only an "extraordinary" minister of holy communion, to be used only "if necessary".
[88.] The faithful should normally receive sacramental Communion of the Eucharist during Mass itself, at the moment laid down by the rite of celebration, that is to say, just after the Priest celebrant’s Communion. It is the Priest celebrant’s responsibility to minister Communion, perhaps assisted by other Priests or Deacons; and he should not resume the Mass until after the Communion of the faithful is concluded. Only when there is a necessity may extraordinary ministers assist the Priest celebrant in accordance with the norm of law.
[154.] As has already been recalled, “the only minister who can confect the Sacrament of the Eucharist in persona Christi is a validly ordained Priest”. Hence the name “minister of the Eucharist” belongs properly to the Priest alone. Moreover, also by reason of their sacred Ordination, the ordinary ministers of Holy Communion are the Bishop, the Priest and the Deacon, to whom it belongs therefore to administer Holy Communion to the lay members of Christ’s faithful during the celebration of Mass. In this way their ministerial office in the Church is fully and accurately brought to light, and the sign value of the Sacrament is made complete.
[155.] In addition to the ordinary ministers there is the formally instituted acolyte, who by virtue of his institution is an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion even outside the celebration of Mass. If, moreover, reasons of real necessity prompt it, another lay member of Christ’s faithful may also be delegated by the diocesan Bishop, in accordance with the norm of law, for one occasion or for a specified time, and an appropriate formula of blessing may be used for the occasion. This act of appointment, however, does not necessarily take a liturgical form, nor, if it does take a liturgical form, should it resemble sacred Ordination in any way. Finally, in special cases of an unforeseen nature, permission can be given for a single occasion by the Priest who presides at the celebration of the Eucharist.
[156.] This function is to be understood strictly according to the name by which it is known, that is to say, that of extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, and not “special minister of Holy Communion” nor “extraordinary minister of the Eucharist” nor “special minister of the Eucharist”, by which names the meaning of this function is unnecessarily and improperly broadened.
[157.] If there is usually present a sufficient number of sacred ministers for the distribution of Holy Communion, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion may not be appointed. Indeed, in such circumstances, those who may have already been appointed to this ministry should not exercise it. The practice of those Priests is reprobated who, even though present at the celebration, abstain from distributing Communion and hand this function over to laypersons.
[158.] Indeed, the extraordinary minister of Holy Communion may administer Communion only when the Priest and Deacon are lacking, when the Priest is prevented by weakness or advanced age or some other genuine reason, or when the number of faithful coming to Communion is so great that the very celebration of Mass would be unduly prolonged. This, however, is to be understood in such a way that a brief prolongation, considering the circumstances and culture of the place, is not at all a sufficient reason.
[159.] It is never allowed for the extraordinary minister of Holy Communion to delegate anyone else to administer the Eucharist, as for example a parent or spouse or child of the sick person who is the communicant.
[160.] Let the diocesan Bishop give renewed consideration to the practice in recent years regarding this matter, and if circumstances call for it, let him correct it or define it more precisely. Where such extraordinary ministers are appointed in a widespread manner out of true necessity, the diocesan Bishop should issue special norms by which he determines the manner in which this function is to be carried out in accordance with the law, bearing in mind the tradition of the Church.