The three churches at the Capuchin Monastery of San Giovanni Rotondo. In the middle church, the Archbishop of Manfredonia expressed his "dangerous considerations".
Repeatedly, bishops try to ban Communion on the tongue under the pretext of combating corona and only allow communion in hand. However, there are clear legal, liturgical and theological hurdles that doom any attempt of this kind to failure.
Legally, the situation is clear: Communion on the tongue is the only fully valid form of receiving communion, and that in the entire world Church. After the Second Vatican Couoncil, at the urging of the bishops of the German-speaking zone, the bishops' conferences were given the opportunity, if they considered it "opportune", to allow an extraordinary form of Communion in addition to the ordinary form of receiving Communion, namely Communion in hand. Both forms are, where permitted, equally permitted, but not equivalent. Oral communion is and remains the proper and legitimate form of receiving Communion. The fact that in some countries and dioceses this fact is systematically concealed and the impression is created that Communion in hand is the current form of receiving Communion, whereas Communion on the tongue is an outdated form that no longer really applies today does nothing to change this. But especially, according to the overall impression created, one no longer has to take this “old” form into account. But this is not the case.
A ban on Communion on the tongue is unthinkable under canon law, but communion in hand at any time, which clearly defines the hierarchy of these two forms.
In Corona times, reference is made to the protection of health in order to prohibit Communion on the tongue. That smells like an excuse and it is. It lacks any hygienic or medical logic. Doctors have pointed out that the oral Communion is no doubt safer than Communion in the hand (see also "Oral Communion Guarantees Best Health and Hygiene"). If the priest disinfects his hands before giving Communion, any contamination is excluded, since the consecrated Host only passes through his hand. In the case of hand communion, however, there are many hands.
In addition, in the 14 months of the alleged corona pandemic, there has been no known case of transmission of infection through receiving Communion. In Austria, although recently Kronen Zeitung tried to concoct a connection between attending Mass and infection, but proved both cases, on closer inspection to be of dubious journalism. Indeed, it is grotesque to think that the saving body of Christ could be the vector of disease. The bishops in the German-speaking areas are not setting a good example with their Corona measures when it comes to real presence.
The Manfredonia case
The Archbishop of Manfredonia-Vieste-San Giovanni Rotondo, Msgr. Franco Moscone, Chaplain of the Somascans, is entertaining "dangerous thoughts," so says the Vatican expert Marco Tosatti. The archdiocese comprises two historical dioceses and has been part of the ecclesiastical province of Foggia since 1979. However, it retained the rank and dignity of an archdiocese. It includes the famous Archangel Michael Sanctuary of Monte Sant'Angelo and the city of San Giovanni Rotondo, in which the stigmatized Saint Pio of Pietrelcina spent 50 years of his life and is also buried. The saint has been one of the patrons of the archdiocese since 2002.
Msgr. Moscone was appointed to the archdiocese by Pope Francis in 2018. He was born in 1957 and comes from the city of Alba in Piedmont. Last January 3rd, during a Mass celebration, he expressed a fundamental rejection of Communion on the tongue, which he dressed in the drastic and many to believers disturbing words:
"Communion on the tongue is an abuse."
Since then, the discussion about it in the diocese has not come to a standstill. The statement is too clear to be misunderstood or to falsely attribute intentions to the Archbishop that are far removed from him. According to Msgr. Moscone, Communion on the tongue is fundamentally wrong, which is why his contradiction, as he himself emphasized to the press, is not only due to the Corona virus.
For his irritating statement, the archbishop chose, which is no less irritating, the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in San Giovanni Rotondo. This is the "middle church" of the large Capuchin complex, which was added to the small monastery church of the Capuchin Convent in the late 1950s and consecrated in 1959. The many pilgrims who come to the grave of St. Padre Pio are expected to do a lot. In the new church, which was consecrated in 2004 and in whose lower church the grave is located, the kneeling of the faithful has been forbidden. If the archbishop has his way, Communion should now also be taken from them. It is astonishing how a bishop can come to a view that a practice always practiced by the Church and never given up could be fundamentally wrong.
Don Bux: “Communion in the mouth is documented in the Gospel. No bishop can counter this"
Don Nicola Bux, internationally renowned liturgist, friend of Benedict XVI. and himself a native of Apulia, commented on the archbishop's statement. His answer is also addressed to the other bishops who want to restrict communion in the mouth with or without Corona. The liturgical scholar is no less clear in his reaction than Monsignor Moscone:
“The bishop made a mistake. From the examination of the Greek Gospel text it cannot be inferred at all that the body of Christ was placed in the hand. "
The use of a paten would make no sense if Communion in hand had been practiced. "At most," said Don Bux, it could be claimed they were using the Purple Code of Rossa from the fifth century, as believers of antiquity would have the Host taken by mouth from their palms, "but never with the fingers of the other hand." It is more likely that the Codex Purpureus Rossanensis only a few decades earlier, was based on a judgment earlier introduced by St. Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem (348-386).
He called for “the hands to be formed into a throne, not in order to receive communion in hand, as is falsely claimed today, but in order to hold the hand formed in this way directly under the mouth and thus when receiving the Eucharistic ' to bite 'to prevent the smallest particle from being lost."
St. Cyril's invitation was an anticipation of the godfather, but not Communion in hand.
Archbishop Moscone, however, referred to “take and eat” in his sermon, which he interpreted as evidence of Communion in hand. Don Bux said:
"The Gospel of John clearly states that Jesus gave Judas a 'bite' at the Lord's Supper, and a bite is something that you put in your mouth."
As early as May 2020, when other dioceses took action against Communion on the tongue with reference to the coronavirus, Don Bux said that the Gospel of John speaks of an immersed morsel (cf. Jn 13, 26-27). In the Douay standard translation says:
“Jesus replied: It is to whom I will give the morsels of bread that I will dip. Then he dipped the bread, took it and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot."
Don Bux on this:
“This form is still Common today among the Orientals and in the Eastern Church when giving communion. A bite of dipped bread cannot be put in the hand, only in the mouth. "
Today in the vernacular translations of the Missale Romanum used for converting words "take" are in Greek and in Latin the word λάβετε / accipite again, the not reflexive meaning "take" but "receive" means in terms of "to absorb” and “to take”.
“The bishop is making a clear mistake in believing that 'to take' means to take with your hands. No, the Host is 'received', in this specific case with the mouth. I think of the reaction of St. Padre Pio if he had heard a bishop speak like that!"
Text: Giuseppe di Nar-
Trans: Tancred email@example.com
Recommended reading on the topic:
Fr. Martin Lugmayr FSSP: Hand Communion: A historical-dogmatic investigation, with a foreword by Prof. Robert Spaemann, 2nd edition, Dominus-Verlag, Augsburg 2020 .
Auxiliary Bishop Athanasius Schneider OCR: Corpus Christi. Thoughts on Holy Communion and the renewal of the Church, with a foreword by Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, 2nd edition, Dominus-Verlag, Augsburg 2014.