No priests–no Eucharist?
Bishop William Murphy of the Diocese of Rockville Center on Long Island released a pastoral letter today [beware: PDF file] ending the fairly common practice of communion services in the absence of a priest–an “extraordinary” form that came into being because of the priest shortage. According to this Newsday story the pastoral letter seems to have been pegged to a too-common recourse to these services at some diocesan schools. But barring them altogther will also mean more work for already overburdened priests, as well as fewer masses for Catholics who the pope wants to be nourished by the Eucharist. So no priest, no eucharist. No eucharist–no church? There seems to be an effort to “tighten up” on liturgical practices in keeping with Vatican wishes. And this does cause us to reflect deeply on the meaning of the eucharist–a significance Bishop Murphy clearly thinks is being diluted (his language about the eucharist is almost identical to Benedict’s). But there is also no discussion of the larger problem behind this pastoral provision–the decline in vocations. I haven’t heard of other instances of this rollback–has anyone else? Is this a one-off for Long Island, or part of a trend?