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The Case in Phoenix

It has been pretty much the talk of the liturgical town that Bishop Olmsted of Phoenix, Arizona, is withdrawing permission to give communion under both forms to the laity except under certain limited conditions. Communion from the cup will no longer be offered in Phoenix on ordinary Sundays or weekdays.His decision is unusual for the great American West and puzzling on a number of levels. Many observers have wondered if Bishop Olmsted isa bellwether, a leader in liturgical trends. Will others surely follow in this path? Or, one might ask, is he merely copying the fashions in Rome without deep thought, whereas other bishops would think twice about restricting a well-established andbenign practice such as this.It helps to know some history.

The Second Vatican Council opened the door to a broader use of communion under both forms for the laity. It did so cautiously, because the measure was controversial at the time. Some of the fathers were adamantly opposed to it. They were persuaded to support the measure because the instances named in Sacrosanctum Concilium were few. Others favored a broader implementation. They were persuaded to vote for the measure because there would be the possibility of extending the practice through local permissions.Weve inherited in our documents the tension that existed at that time. A sort of Yes, but refrain runs through official literature on the subject. And, as everyone knows, there has been a rush lately to revisit and revive the minority opinions on almost everything the Council decided, especially in the area of liturgy. Nevertheless, I think it is safe to say that on balance, since the Council, the Church has moved firmly in the direction of the fuller use of the sign by offering easier access to communion under both forms. In fact, it is a signal accomplishment that the 2002 General Instruction on the Roman Missal (GIRM) actually broadened the permission and made it easier to achieve for the worldwide church.The issue is an important one. The driving force behind the restoration of the cup to the laity is two-fold. The reason most often cited is the fullness of the sign. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal has this to say:

281. Holy Communion has a fuller form as a sign when it takes place under both kinds. For in this form the sign of the Eucharistic banquet is more clearly evident and clearer expression is given to the divine will by which the new and eternal Covenant is ratified in the Blood of the Lord, as also the connection between the Eucharistic banquet and the eschatological banquet in the Kingdom of the Father.

The second value implicit in this restored practice is ecumenisma central theme of the Council. Although not at the front of many Catholics consciousness in this connection, ecumenism is an important reason for movement in the direction of sharing the cup more broadly. By giving the cup to the laity, the Roman Catholic Church removed what had been a cause for reproach during the Reformation, and drew closer to Christians of both the East and the West who have long held communion under both forms as their normal practice. It was quite a neat move, actually. We never gave up Trent'saffirmation that one species is good enough, but we graciously moved toward visible unity with those who offered both.Offering communion under both forms to the laity is not new. Rather, it is a return to the practice of the Catholic Church of the first millennium. As the Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds in the Dioceses of the United States of America (2002) notes:

From the first days of the Churchs celebration of the Eucharist, Holy Communion consisted of the reception of both species in fulfillment of the Lords command to take and eattake and drink. The distribution of Holy Communion to the faithful under both kinds was thus the norm for more than a millennium of Catholic liturgical practice. (no. 17).

So, whats going on in Phoenix in 2011? Based on the FAQs from the diocese [pdf], a whole basketful of rationales, some quite dubious, have been put forward to support this change.NEW DIRECTIVES IN THE GIRM?The FAQs that the Diocese posted on their website claim, erroneously, that restricting the cup to certain specific occasions (thus prohibiting it on ordinary Sundays and weekdays) stems from recent changes in the GIRM (FAQ2).The GIRM, revised in 2002, has indeed been retranslated and recently re-released. The 2011 version rewords quite a bit of the 2002 text. But none of the items concerning Communion from the Cup have been changed in their substance. The text is on line. Anyone can read it. The provisions are the same.A FAILED EXPERIMENT?The FAQs also mystifyingly state that the United States had a 25 year special permission to experiment with Holy Communion under both forms (FAQ13). This implies that the time is up, and the experiment failed.Not so. Our national document was updated and confirmed by the Vatican in 2002. If anything, the success of the experiment is reflected in the relaxation of the rules in the GIRM 2002 to make it easier for bishops to grant permission to their pastors for sharing the cuprules that are replicated in the 2011 edition.The U.S. bishops Web site says that in 2006 Pope Benedict did not renew a special permission for the United States. But when a special permission is not renewed, the default setting is universal legislation, which brings us back to the GIRM 2011.TOO MANY LAY MINISTERS?The FAQs also assert that the need to avoid obscuring the role of the priest and the deacon by excessive use of extraordinary (lay) ministers might in some circumstances constitute a reason for limiting the distribution of Holy Communion under both species. This is explained in the GIRM, paragraph 24. (FAQ12).Here is GIRM 24:

24. These adaptations consist, for the most part, in the choice of certain rites or texts, that is, of the chants, readings, prayers, explanatory interventions, and gestures capable of responding better to the needs, the preparation, and the culture of the participants and which are entrusted to the Priest Celebrant. However, the Priest will remember that he is the servant of the Sacred Liturgy and that he himself is not permitted, on his own initiative, to add, to remove, or to change anything in the celebration of Mass.

If you can find the explanation here, you are doing better than I am.Well, we could talk more about documents, but lets just leave it at that. The FAQs are lacking documentary evidence for why this move is either necessary or helpful at this time. Restricting the cup may be the personal preference of the bishop, but its not at all clear that this is something other bishops will want to do or that the pope and our official documents are demanding.PHILOSOPHICAL OR PRACTICAL GROUNDSHow about philosophical or practical grounds? In other words, can we tell whats at stake in Bishop Olmsteds decision by reading the explanations given in the FAQs? I do see several arguments being presented.One is a least-common-denominator form of solidarity with countries that dont offer communion under both forms because of poverty.In response to this, however, I think we need to ask some hard questions. Like, should Phoenix turn off its air conditioners in solidarity with poor churches around the world that cant afford air conditioning. Or, should we refuse to accept priests from Africa and India to serve in American parishes when their own dioceses have a lower ratio of priests to people. I dont understand why communion under both forms is the place where sacrifices must be made so that we will feel closer to the poor of the world. How about if we fund the expansion of the practice in poorer communities?Another is the danger of profanation. This seems to be a big concern, and the forms of it are even listed: careless treatment, spillage, swilling, etc. (FAQ4). Is the Eucharist being profaned in Phoenix? I have no evidence in support of this whatsoever. But just for arguments sake, lets say that it is. Wouldnt a better response be to take a moratorium for a specified period of time, during which catechesis and pastoral guidance could be offered as well as renewed training for all who minister Communion from the cup?Strangely, whenever profanation is brought forward it seems that those who espouse it believe there is always risk of profaning the sacrament by offering the cup, no matter what measures are taken. Here is where I begin to smell a phony argument. If the risk of profanation is perennial for the Eucharist under the species of wine, it is also true for the Eucharist under the species of bread.Finally, there is the specialness argument for having communion from the cup only on special occasions. The assumption is that it becomes mundane to have it all the time. The trouble with this argument is that it assigns a decorative function to communion from the cup that paradoxically trivializes it. The Eucharistic signs arent like flowers or brass instruments, something you add to the liturgy on festive occasions. The fullness of the sign in the Eucharist points to our redemption, not to the festivity of the day. Saving the cup for special days is also the same sort of argument given for having communion once a month in certain Protestant churchesnot a way of thinking that we want to replicate.In short, fromthe informationshared publically to date, I do not think Bishop Olmsted has presented any kind of solid, credible case for his decision. In the absence of a good case, unfortunately, observers are free to speculate that this is a matter of fashion, of pleasing people in Rome, or part of a greater schemeof which the new translation of the Roman Missal is a part (Bishop Olmsted is a member of Vox Clara)of turning the clock back on what I daresay may be classed asorganic liturgical developments which have occurred since the Council. As the diocesan bishop, he certainly can decide what to do in his diocese, but the sheer exercise of power without persuasion is an ineffective means of governing.If other bishops are watching, I hope they realize that what they are seeing isa bad example.

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Rita, I will be curious to see how well-accepted these new diocesan directives are by the Phoenix clergy. As I stated in an earlier thread on the topic, in Chicago it would not be well-received by the pastors, who of course would need to bear the burden of enforcing the rule and explaining to the Eucharistic Ministers why, henceforth, they will be scheduled only half as often as before. I expect that there would be pastors who, in the case of the new Missal translation, will conclude, "this is not a battle worth fighting", but would conclude that the new cup regulations *are* worth kicking up a fuss over. Just my speculation.

Do most Catholics in Phoenix represent the "great American West" with its tradition of free-range, "don't fence me in", "you'd better give me a damn good reason 'fer buyin' your crap" kind of thinking?Or, are Hispanic Catholics more amenable to accepting their hierarch's mandate "as gospel"?Or, is Phoenix largely populated by conservative Anglo Catholics who've relocated to a sunnier clime and naturally gravitate toward guys like Olmsted?We've seen over the past few years movement afoot to "put the laity in their place" in the Church of Rome: installation/reinstallation of kneelers, bow before eucharistic reception, retitling lay eucharistic ministers as "Extraordinary", cleaning of sacred vessels restricted (I understand) to the ordained, the history behind the upcoming liturgical translation, banning females from serving at the liturgy in some places as well as at the Tridentine mass, ad nauseum.Duh.Ain't no "guess work" needed: Catholics have a reactionary pope who operates from fear and is hell-bend to restore the medieval mindset in matters ecclesial.Damn sad.Dysfunctional.This crap will continue as long as Catholics (a) talk about it but (b) do nothing to stop it.

"In response to this, however, I think we need to ask some hard questions. Like, should Phoenix turn off its air conditioners in solidarity with poor churches around the world that cant afford air conditioning. Or, should we refuse to accept priests from Africa and India to serve in American parishes when their own dioceses have a lower ratio of priests to people. I dont understand why communion under both forms is the place where sacrifices must be made so that we will feel closer to the poor of the world. How about if we fund the expansion of the practice in poorer communities?"This kind of thinking is absent in seminaries and in Vatican speak. Someone should be in charge of language and send flares everytime bishops step outside reality, which is often. Olmstead shows that the church remains elitist and more into empire than community. Let alone concerned with solidarity with the poor.

Pow! Great post, Rita. Real facts. Actual information. Cool.

...the sheer exercise of power without persuasion is an ineffective means of governing.I have no special knowledge of conditions on the parish level in Phoenix, but if I had to guess what the reaction there might be, the truth of this observation would inform my guess. People don't like feeling like the Powers That Be are making arbitrary changes to their worship for the sake of making changes. That's true even when the change is well-founded -- I remember a while back, in my hometown, the word got out that we were no longer allowed to use other acclamations in the Lamb of God ("Jesus, Bread of Life..." etc.). From what I understand, that's a practice that probably shouldn't have started in the first place, and the bishop wasn't wrong to end it, but to people who had never seen the GIRM it seemed like an arbitrary ruling, and it left many asking resentfully, "What's wrong with the way we do it now?" I suppose it's good that Olmsted attempted to offer an explanation for his change, but it's such an insultingly poor explanation that it might just make the problem worse.I stopped taking the cup for a period of a few months several years ago, out of an abundance of caution while my immune system was suppressed. That made me realize how much receiving from the cup adds to my experience of the sacrament -- not the grace part, perhaps, but certainly the "outward sign." The wine engages my senses in a way that the host cannot (especially since concerns about profanation, and general pragmatism, have already left us with "bread" that looks and tastes nothing like bread). I gained a much deeper appreciation for the "feast" aspect of Communion -- the "foretaste of the Heavenly banquet" is a lot easier to appreciate when there's drinking to go with the eating, and "taste" in any form. Given how much receiving the Precious Blood adds to my worship experience, I think it's a shame when people pass on the cup, whether out of squeamishness, old habit, or indifference, and I think it's very sad that ordinary people in Phoenix won't even be given the option.

Offering communion under both forms to the laity is not new. Rather, it is a return to the practice of the Catholic Church of the first millennium. Another thing that the Council did was to return to the practice of the Catholic Church of the bishop having individual authority as shepherd of a local church (diocese), rather than being controlled by a centralized hierarchy in Rome.I do not think Bishop Olmsted has presented any kind of solid, credible case for his decision.See above. He does not have to prove himself to you. We are not the judges here, any more than the SSPX is a judge of what is proper Catholicism or not.If a bishop says to offer both in his diocese, he does NOT have to justify his decision to you or me or anyone. Likewise, if he says to over only one, he still does not have to justify it.

I think the 'tell' is that the other 200 bishops will keep allowing the cup but won't even have the willingness to say they think keeping the cup is correct/good..The small minority of Trad. bishops can make any change they can think up and publicize it . e.g. no altar girls, eliminate EMs, no cup and the rest of the bishops will remain silent. Recall the line by the guerrilla chief threatened by Robert Jordan in For Whom the Bell Tolls... 'I will not provoke... Inglese.' meaning .. you can't shoot me if I don't respond to the provoke.

explaining to the Eucharistic Ministers why, henceforth, they will be scheduled only half as often as before_______________No one has the right to be an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. We are mere lowly servants. That's all. We do not make demands regarding serving, any more than one takes Communion, rather than receiving it.

Bender,For the purposes of this discussion, let me pretend to agree with you that bishops don't need to justify their decisions to other bishops or to their own flock. Let me also pretend to agree that all the nonbishops in the pews must not question the unjustified judgments of their bishop. That does not answer Rita's main objection in this post, which is that a bishop did choose, wisely or unwisely, to offer reasons for his decision, and that his reasons seem inadequate. Or are you also suggesting that only bishops are competent to judge the adequacy of the reasons bishops offer? In that case, there is little point in making those reasons public, since persuasion is beside the point. On your view, agreement is irrelevant; only obedience matters.

We are mere lowly servants. I will gladly concede that we are here to serve God, and one another, and the Church viewed as the body of all the Faithful; but we are definitely not here to serve our bishop. The bishop is the one who is there to serve us in our effort to build the Kingdom. If anyone is the "mere" lowly servant, it is him.

Thanks for a thoughtful, fact-based post. I'm afraid I can't help but think that the "avoid obscuring the role of the priest and deacon" reason is or will be a key one for many priests and bishops. We are in the midst of a resurgence of both ultra-clericalism and anti-feminism in the Church, and reducing the visibility and role of the Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist bolsters both of these trends.

Bender:You wrote,

He does not have to prove himself to you. We are not the judges here, any more than the SSPX is a judge of what is proper Catholicism or not.If a bishop says to offer both in his diocese, he does NOT have to justify his decision to you or me or anyone. Likewise, if he says to over only one, he still does not have to justify it.

My question is: do you think thats the most advisable way for a church community to function? Imagine we were starting from scratch, organizing a church community, and there were contending visions about whether the authority figures should, or should not, have to explain themselves, have to justify their decisions. In your opinion, what would be the best way to go?

Rita, you ended your post with the crux of the problem. You stated this very well in your article in Commweal on the new translation. They want to go back to the coucil of Trent. Vatican II means they should share authority, and there's "no way Jose" that the're going to do that. Wonderful post.

If you can find the explanation here, you are doing better than I am.Here's my guess. The person who prepared the question and answers read the GIRM a little bit too hastily and missed a couple of words, so that what he read was:24. These adaptations consist, for the most part, in the choice of certain rites or texts, that is, of the chants, readings, prayers, explanatory interventions, and gestures capable of responding better to the needs, the preparation, and the culture of the participants and which are entrusted to the Priest Celebrant. Of course, omitting the words stricken out changes the meaning of the sentence, but that's what may have happened. Then the connection becomes clear: according to that selective reading, gestures etc. are entrusted to the Priest Celebrant, not to lay ministers. That includes the distribution of communion.

"I cant help but think that the avoid obscuring the role of the priest and deacon reason is or will be a key one for many priests and bishops. "It's legitimate to not inappropriately obscure the distinctions, as when a layperson would proclaim the Gospel. We should all do what we're supposed to do in liturgy. But in the case of offering the cup during communion, it's not a question of "not supposed to", because it's perfectly legitimate for extraordinary ministers to do this. In fairness, the comparative 'over-use' of lay ministers, and 'under-use' of clergy, is real. The rules (and theology) say that it is part of the clergy's job description to offer communion, and laypersons are supposed to supplement them. If the clergy are hovering near the door at the end of every mass to greet folks as they leave, presumably they could also distribute communion a few minutes earlier.

Bender, I suppose you would have advocated following the Catholic bishops in Nazi Germany. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_bishops_in_Nazi_GermanyPlease tell us when your conscience exists apart from being fully formed by the bishops.

Rita - powerful and well articulated. Thanks.Jim - your last line....would suggest you think about that. The eucharistic community are the folks who are there together from start to finish. Having "clerics" pop in to give communion is a poor sign; bad liturgy; and minimizes the community's sacramental action in that specific liturgy. It would be like having a guest minister ignore the wedding ceremony but "drop in" to witness the vows only. Also, your Chicago experience is showing......in most dioceses today you don't have "extra" clerics hanging around...even large family parishes may have only two priests and a few deacons. Is it really liturgical documents' principle that if a parish has four deacons, they all need to be at every liturgy just to give communion? and is that really the point of being a deacon? Yes, if you are at that specific liturgy, then the documents state that you are the "ordinary" minister of the eucharist. But let's not conflate that and get back to the old days of priests listening in so they can hurriedly throw a stole on and show up to distribute communion. Read my specific words carefully - show up; distribute; etc. is that really what eucharist is about? We are back to a clericalism and eucharist as object mentality.As Rita says well - we have come far from VII and there has been much "organic liturgical" development. Let's build on that rather than jump back to liturgical minimization.

If profanation of the Eucharist is a major concern (#1 in the Q&A), a modest search of Catholic News Agency and beyond suggests that public access to the host is what should be constrained. The rector of Bishop Olmsted's cathedral partly addressed this problem in a Jan 2011 letter, identifying nine forms of unintentional profanation of the host that he witnesses frequently. He ignored intentional forms, which are more likely to make the news. His solution was to eliminate abuses enabled by receiving in the hand and to write repeatedly to reduce pertinent ignorance resulting from poor catechesis. It is unclear why the pastoral solution of improved catechesis which Rita suggests could not have been adapted similarly to Communion from the cup. http://www.diocesephoenix.org/uploads/docs/COMMUNION-Q-AND-A-092111.pdf http://www.simonjude.org/documents/BulletinLetterJanuary302011.pdf

Back in the day, a lot of teaching from the pulpit happened on the proper way to receive communion in the hand. But I have seldom heard much about it in many years. Repetition being the mother of learning, if this is a real problem, then one would think the pastors would have a moral obligation to do some teaching from the pulpit as well as by putting notices in bulletins (most of which are probably ot read all that much anyway).

In my parish now there are Eucharistic Ministers galore and there is hardly ever a second priest distributing. In a former parish a second priest was always there as that pastor was more into power. Plain and simple it is about power. If we do not have power over the Eucharist who needs us? Then what. In the mid-centuries there were priests who were ordained to say mass only. It is a cleric-empire-power mentality. The other bishops may not imitate Olmstead. But they get the message.

That the bishop has the authority to do what Olmstead has done is not in question; but this hardly means that his action may not be questioned nor that he may not be asked for the reasons for it not only by his own people but by others Catholics. It is not subversive of authority to ask for the reasons for decisions.On the other hand, let us not exaggerate the significance of this decision or assume that it represents the wave of the future. I believe he will find himself in a very small minority on this matter.

There is no discussion in any of the documents about people with celiac disease. I am acquainted with this because a very devout friend has celiac disease and cannot tolerate wheat (there are low gluten hosts, which may be used at the discretion of the Ordinary, but some apparently cannot tolerate even them); there was some discussion, years back, of making Hosts of a different grain, but that was not allowed.It has apparently become the custom in many churches to set aside a chalice that has no contact with wheat (and no portion of the Host in the cup) so that celiacs can communicate.Olmsted's decision, then, could have the effect of denying communion entirely to some Catholics except on a few feasts. Is that pastoral? Is it Christlike? Why is there no discussion of this presumably pastoral problem in the directive or the Q & A? The issue was publicized widely earlier in the decade.This and the information in this excellent article confirm my belief that when concern for the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist is greater than concern for the body of Christ gathered and asking to be fed, the Eucharist is no longer doing what Jesus did when he fed his followers.

Bill - I don't say your liturgical theology points are wrong. But the question could be asked, "if the clergy are around, why aren't they joining the community in worship?" And there could be all sorts of good reasons why they don't. But there also could be some not-so-good reasons. It's worth asking these questions and thinking about them, anyway (just my humble opinion).I do think that a lot of clergy need to reflect more on their Eucharistic responsibilities. Almost every weekend, I attend masses in which I am not distributing communion (generally because I am bringing my kids to mass and am in the pews), and that is also a sort of distortion of my ministry - serving the people by serving at the Eucharist is one of the most important things that deacons do. (Many deacons incorrectly believe that their ministry of charity is sole or primary.) I don't distribute communion on those occasions because laypersons have already been scheduled, and no thought was given that clergy might be present, at the mass, and should be exercising their ministry. All of the deacons in our parish attend mass as parishioners, in the pews, on weekends when we're not scheduled. It isn't just me.There would be practical and pastoral problems with trying to accommodate our presence - it needs to be thought through, on a number of different levels. But because it seems hard, that may not be sufficient reason to just ignore it. If we accept the principle that the actors should do what they're supposed to do - the priest does the priestly things, the psalmist does the psalmist things, the assembly does the assembly things, and so on - then we should take seriously the directive that clergy who are present exercise their ministry; that part and parcel of their ministry is to distribute communion; and that in some way this makes manifest the character of who they are and what they do.Just tossing these thoughts out for consideration.

I'm puzzled by all the anger here. As someone remarked, it's the same eucharist either way. What, exactly, is lost if you can't all share a common cup? Or is this just another excuse to vent rage at Rome?

@David Smith (10/7, 2:54 am) Various folks above have given their (varied) reasons for their anger at this bishop's decision. For me, one reason is the de facto insult of the laity's intelligence. The "reasons" given for the bishop's decision fail the test of simple logic. Thus, we are left to speculate what this bishop's actual reasons are for the arbitrary exercise of his power.(Personally, I'd prefer if the bishop simple said, in effect, "I'm in charge here, and as long as I'm in charge this is the way it's going to be in my diocese. I don't need to give any more reasons than that...and I'm not going to." At the least, a statement like that has the ring of honesty...which the statements from the Phoenix diocese do not (at least to my ears).)

Thanks, Jim. Good points - we disagree on the purpose of the diaconate - it is service and ministry and not primarily liturgical. That is why VII ressourced it. What we have seen given the reality of lack of clerics is plugging deacons into liturgical roles because we lack priests. Guess this could be considered "organic" development?

As opposed to some, the amount of irritation here, despite Mr. Smith's minimizing(as usual), underscores the problem is bigger than Phoenix/Olmsted.In our county currently, we are discussing charter review and there is real division between those who underscote discretion (like the Bender argument here) often glossed as leadership (meaning the manager "knows better") and those who emphasize service to the community. Discretion supporters in my experience tend to support everything by the book (like Jim P. here)We just named a new counry manager -al the finalists from the national search talked about believing in collaboration and listening -but, as often happens, the proof is in the pudding.Those words are empty w/o transarency and accountability.How governnace is operating in the chrch is the issue and this is AGAIN one small part of that.BXVI has said it's sinfulness not governance is the problem (I guess that's his idea of curial reform).So I guess i'd be bemused by another Olmsted action -since I'm not in Phoenix thank God - but I see the implications well beyond that not only currently but getting worse for the future.

FWIW - the Norms for Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion under Both Kinds in the Dioceses in the United States of America also alludes to the potential confusion between clergy and laity:"24. The General Instruction then indicates that, 'the diocesan Bishop may lay down norms for the distribution of Communion under both kinds for his own diocese, which must be observed. . . . The diocesan Bishop also has the faculty to allow Communion under both kinds, whenever it seems appropriate to the priest to whom charge of a given community has been entrusted as [its] own pastor, provided that the faithful have been well instructed and there is no danger of the profanation of the Sacrament or that the rite would be difficult to carry out on account of the number of participants or for some other reason. (36) '"In practice, the need to avoid obscuring the role of the priest and the deacon as the ordinary ministers of Holy Communion by an excessive use of extraordinary minister might in some circumstances constitute a reason either for limiting the distribution of Holy Communion under both species or for using intinction instead of distributing the Precious Blood from the chalice"Whether or not we think this is a questionable rationale, it is not original to Bishop Olmsted - he is simply copying and pasting it out of the Rome-approved norms for the US.http://nccbuscc.org/liturgy/current/norms.shtml

Luke Hill and Joe Komonchak:Luke, you wrote,

Personally, Id prefer if the bishop simple said, in effect, Im in charge here, and as long as Im in charge this is the way its going to be in my diocese. I dont need to give any more reasons than thatand Im not going to. At the least, a statement like that has the ring of honesty.

But if a bishop said that, would you let it go at that, or would you keep pressing him? I agree that such a statement would at least have, as you put it, the ring of honesty. But is that enough, or is it only a lesser evil -- one we shouldnt settle for and shouldnt be expected to settle for? In saying this, I have in mind what Joe Komonchak wrote above:

That the bishop has the authority to do what Olmstead has done is not in question; but this hardly means that his action may not be questioned nor that he may not be asked for the reasons for it not only by his own people but by others Catholics. It is not subversive of authority to ask for the reasons for decisions.

Id say that if there exists a right to question the bishop and ask for his reasons, there also exists a duty, on the bishops part, to answer those questions and give those reasons.Luke and Joe, what do you think?

Note that Bishop Olmsted's concern about the 'danger of profanation' is also contained in the national norms.

Rita, btw, in your original post, you expressed puzzlement regarding how GIRM 24 relates to FAQ 12. I believe the reference should have been, not to GIRM 24, but to paragraph 24 in the norms, which I quoted a couple of comments above this one.

I would like to approach this issue from a different perspective. And that perspective is from the history of our faith. We can all agree that what Jesus taught (passed on to us by the Apostles, St. Paul, and the apostles to the early Christian communities) and Jesus' example form what is called the 'Deposit of Faith'.It can also be stated that with the death of the Apostle St. John (approx. 95 CE), the Deposit of Faith was complete. With this completeness no claim of new revelation from God is to be accepted. We know what Jesus said and did from Sacred Scripture, and we know what was practiced during the Apostolic Era---what we have received from Scriptures and Traditon. This is not to be set aside for any reason. In other words, even if there would be a papal declaration attempting to change or nullify a Dogma of Faith taught by Christ (or an example modeled by Christ), such an action by the pope or other hierarchy should be declared by the rest of the Church as an attempt to contradict the immutable 'Deposit of Faith'---which must not be permitted.We know from the writings of St. Paul (writing before any gospel writer) what the practices were in the early Christian communities both in Palestine, as well as in Greece and Rome. We know from the Acts of the Apostles and the letters of the Apostles---the teachings of Peter, James (relative of Jesus who headed the Church of Jerusalem), what the practices were. Paul in his 2nd Letter to the Thessolonians states: "hold fast to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistles". (2 Thes. 2:15)We know that Jesus utilized both bread and wine at the Last Supper. And we know that both species were used in the early Christian communities. We also know that from the beginning, the Eastern Churches have distributed Communion under both species and still do today. Receiving Communion under both species is part and parcel of the Deposit of Faith and should never, never have ceased being a practice in the Latin Rite. The fact that after Vatican II---a major step was taken (in at least the English-speaking countries), of returning to the example of Christ, was a major step in returning to the Deposit of Faith.I have also read a book by Edgar Davie who did over 30 years of study into the historical origins of Christianity as a Jewish sect, and in its evolving role as a separate branch of faith. His book "Before the Bible: Beliefs and Practices of the First Christians" traces this development from the beginning until Constantine in 325 CE. This book concluded that all original Christian Dogma and doctrines were correct.He concluded that after years of continued investigation in order to better understand the historical Jesus, and the lives of His apostles, did new concerns arise surrounding Church developments after Constantine that departed from Christianity's first teachings. There are other issues (besides the celebration of the Holy Eucharist---under two species) that Davie studied. But this point is enough for here. The practice of limiting Latin Rite Catholics to communion under one species---the Host----evolved over the centuries---not all at once. It was able to be accomplished because so many people in western Europe were uneducated. Even the Holy Roman Emperor, Charlemagne, was illiterate.I firmly believe that Bishop Olmsted is guilty of a massive left turn from what is a major tenant of the Deposit of Faith. Letters should deluge the Metropolitan of Region XIII (going to Denver, CO)----complaining, and protesting this imposition with all the trumped-up false claims made by Bishop Olmsted.

G.-B. Montini, future Paul VI, once said, "it is characteristic of authority that it does not have to give reasons." I would distinguish: Authority is acknowledged when it is presumed that there are reasons behind a decision or teaching. I do not know why a person in authority would not want to give them when questioned or challenged--do keep in mind that not every request is a challenge--especially by those most affected, especially when it concerns a great spiritual good. If a bishop wants to govern a Church of adults, I would think it a duty to supply reasons when questioned.

Rita, and others who may know, please bear with me, as this is a rather involved point. Prior to the promulgation of the current GIRM, the former GIRM, which had been in effect from the 1970s until about ten years ago, treated reception under both kinds in a two-step way:* The GIRM itself gave permission for reception under both kinds. Those permissions would strike most American parishes today as extremely restrictive, compared to the practices to which we've become accustomed.* The National Conference of Catholic Bishops (the US conference) subsequently sought from Rome, and received, permission for a much wider range of occasions when communion could be offered under both kinds. That permission was included in American editions of the former GIRM as an appendix at the end of the Roman document. This wider American permission became the legal basis for what is now a well-established custom in American parishes.I note that, in the new GIRM, there is no longer an appendix for dioceses in the United States that specifies American permissions. Instead, GIRM no. 283 presents a rather complex edifice of four different sources of permission for celebrating under both kinds:1. Those occasions specified in the ritual books (which presumably refers to the new missal itself?)2. Several explicit permissions which are listed out right there in GIRM 283 (and which would be of little interest to laypersons at a typical parish Sunday mass)3. The diocesan bishop is given permission to establish norms in his diocese, including permission to grant to parish pastors the latitude to offer it whenever it seems appropriate to the pastor (provided that good catechesis has been given, and so on)4. The norms for communion under both kinds in the US, a link to which I provided a few comments above this one, are to be followed. Presumably, this last is a "US-only" insertion, and replaces the US-specific appendix to the previous version of the GIRM.So - a couple of points:* Whereas, under the old GIRM, there was *conference-wide* permissions, which would have applied to *all dioceses* in the US, now *the diocesan bishop* controls the permissions within his diocese. Thus, this development would seem to be yet another in a rather lengthy line of instances in which responsibility is being taken away from the conference and given to the individual bishop..* Obviously, the permission given the diocesan bishop is the pertinent one here. In my opinion, the diocesan FAQ is not entirely honest in the way it explains what the new GIRM permits and doesn't permit. In truth, the former GIRM, with its US appendix, was quite permissive. And in truth, the new GIRM is just as permissive - it just substitutes a new vehicle for extending that permission (the diocesan bishop) for the old vehicle (the national conference). In summary - there is nothing in the current GIRM that would prevent the Phoenix diocese from offering communion under both kinds. That it is now being restricted is due, not to the new GIRM, but to the discretion of the diocesan bishop. He could, if he wished, offer communion as widely as it has been offered up to now, and he would be entirely within his legal rights to do so. Instead, he has made a more restrictive decision. Pointing to the new GIRM as a rationale is, quite frankly, disengenuous.

There are actually some holes in the author's line of reasoning. First of all, the author did not take into account Redemptionis Sacramentum:"102.] The chalice should not be ministered to lay members of Christ's faithful where there is such a large number of communicants189 that it is difficult to gauge the amount of wine for the Eucharist and there is a danger that "more than a reasonable quantity of the Blood of Christ remain to be consumed at the end of the celebration".190 The same is true wherever access to the chalice would be difficult to arrange, or where such a large amount of wine would be required that its certain provenance and quality could only be known with difficulty, or wherever there is not an adequate number of sacred ministers or extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion with proper formation, or where a notable part of the people continues to prefer not to approach the chalice for various reasons, so that the sign of unity would in some sense be negated."Furthermore, here is an additional item of interest from the United States' own norms:"28. When the size of the congregation or the incapacity of the bishop, priest, or deacon requires it, the celebrant may be assisted by other bishops, priests, or deacons. (42) If such ordinary ministers of Holy Communion are not present, "the priest may call upon extraordinary ministers to assist him, i.e., formally instituted acolytes or even some of the faithful who have been commissioned according to the prescribed rite. In case of necessity, the priest may also commission suitable members of the faithful for the occasion." (43) Extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion should receive sufficient spiritual, theological, and practical preparation to fulfill their role with knowledge and reverence. When recourse is had to Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, especially in the distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds, their number should not be increased beyond what is required for the orderly and reverent distribution of the Body and Blood of the Lord. In all matters such Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion should follow the guidance of the diocesan bishop."Thus, as the previous respondent noted, the norms do give the diocesan bishop the right to determine the best practice for his diocese, as spelled out in the Church's liturgical laws.

I gues(as usual) I'm dense.I've tried to suggest the issue here is not going to be moved forward by focusing on authority rights (discretion) which can or cannot be abused or by the book cites from manuals/documents, etc.(There's a great podcast at America -sorry,Matthew -this week with Prof. Hinze talking about the Listening conference at Fordham on sexual diversity. She focuses on the mission laid out by (not always folowed by?) BXVI of finding the truth in love by listening.)Olmsted et al. may speak from the top down manager approach, but the real pastoral edge requires LISTENING to those who are served, not just cites.

Deacon Jim:As you noted, the Church requires that those ordinary ministers of Holy Communion (bishop, priest and deacon) who are present assist in the distribution of Holy Communion. Redemptionis Sacramentum makes this perfectly clear: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.258Thus, if there are many deacons out in the pews, they should actually not be there since, as clergy, they must exercise the role that is proper to them in the Mass. Again, Redemptionis Sacramentum makes this point:[128.] Holy Mass and other liturgical celebrations, which are acts of Christ and of the people of God hierarchically constituted, are ordered in such a way that the sacred ministers and the lay faithful manifestly take part in them each according to his own condition. It is preferable therefore that "Priests who are present at a Eucharistic Celebration, unless excused for a good reason, should as a rule exercise the office proper to their Order and thus take part as concelebrants, wearing the sacred vestments. Otherwise, they wear their proper choir dress or a surplice over a cassock".218 It is not fitting, except in rare and exceptional cases and with reasonable cause, for them to participate at Mass, as regards to externals, in the manner of the lay faithful.While this section speaks directly to priests, it's not a huge stretch to also apply this to deacons as well.

@gene palumbo (10/7, 10:58 am) Thanks for your response, and your question. (Thanks also to Fr. Komonchak for his reply above at 12:58 pm.)"Id say that if there exists a right to question the bishop and ask for his reasons, there also exists a duty, on the bishops part, to answer those questions and give those reasons."I guess I think we certainly have a right to question our bishops' decisions and to ask for their reasons. I don't know if bishops have a duty, but I do think they have---at the least---a responsibility to respond to such questions from the laity in their dioceses. However, if a bishop gives what seem to be evasive answers, it seems to me that the rest of us have limited options (i.e., there's no provision for impeaching a bishop, or for voting him out of office).

Finally a question about where the clergy are. Couldn't they pop in and help? I celebrate more than a dozen Masses a week mostly for small groups and on Sunday with a church 1/3 full. The small attendance is the norm and not just our parish problem. There are 40 Masses celebrated on Sunday within 10 miles of our parish. Why this situation prevails and what it has to do with the form of Holy Communion I leave to the readers and also to our beloved Bishops.

Michelle Marie Romani, yes, you've provided documentation for a point I was making to Bill deHaas in an earlier comment. I don't have time to hunt it up right now, but there may be pertinent rules in the directory for life and ministry of deacons that pertains specifically to deacons who are present in the liturgy. The norm is that, if deacons are present, they serve. There are a number of practical reasons why a deacon may be excused from liturgical service. My being with my children at mass seems a sensible one. (Although they're not as little as they once were, and it wouldn't be impossible for me to leave them while I distribute communion). Another obvious one would be that there are other deacons already scheduled to serve as deacons at that particular mass.I guess my thought would be that there are an awful lot of things that happen in parish liturgy from week to week that happen more or less on auto-pilot. I preach at Sunday mass once per month. Why? Because it's always been done that way at this parish, and it's done that way at a lot of other parishes. I'm scheduled to serve as deacon at the mass on some Sundays but not others. Why? Again, because that's just kind of the way it is and has been for a long time. But doing something the same for inadequate reasons doesn't seem much better than making a disruptive change for inadequate reasons.Here's my view: a truly and authentically organic development in liturgy since the Council is the ministry of extraordinary eucharistic minister. It's a wonderful ministry. It's a blessing to everyone involved. The church is richer for it. The last thing I would ever want to do is abolish it (and I don't see that this is what is happening in Phoenix). But ... that authentic organic development is not entirely aligned, at least in practice, with the guidelines you've cited. I'm broaching these points to invite reflection on that disjoint. We shouldn't always do everything on autopilot. Things change over time: we have a lot fewer priests, a lot more deacons, another ministry (instituted acolyte) that is almost entirely ignored in practice, an entirely new, massively popular and quite permanent ministry (EEM) that wasn't envisioned by the Council fathers, and rules and regs that have also evolved over the years. This could be a good time to stop, reflect, and see if there is a way to bring all of these disparate elements into alignment.

Ms. Romani,Redemptionis Sacramentum came out in 2004. Now, in 2011, the people of Phoenix are told there are changes in the GIRM that necessitate a new approach to Communion under both forms. It is seven years later. If the "real" reason is Redemptionis Sacramentum, why do the FAQs state that changes in the 2011 GIRM both ground this decision and explain it?Redemptionis Sacramentum does not in any way prohibit the full exercise of the GIRM. The GIRM is a document of higher standing than RS. One cannot use RS, nor can one use a national document such as the US Guidelines, to gainsay the GIRM. The GIRM gives to the bishop the freedom to give his pastors permission to give communion under both forms whenever they see fit. He can do this. He has chosen not to do it. The FAQs say that the bishop cannot dispense from universal legislation. This is plainly not the issue.

However, Ms. Ferrone, if one is going to attack the actions of the Ordinary, one must also look at what Redemptionis Sacramentum states. The document wasn't writte in a vaccuum. It is meant to be read in tandem with the GIRM. Furthermore, there really is no such creature as a 2011 GIRM. It is merely a revised, permanent translation of the GIRM already in place. You also need to look at the Latin original to see what it says.The local Ordinary acted well within his rights. It is sad that disgruntled folks who seem to want to harp on things fail to see that.Insofar as EMHCs are concerned, they are, lamentably, overused. One means of eliminating their use is to employ intinction as a means of distributing Holy Communion under both Species. All is needed is the priest, as he, according to the GIRM, RS and our own norms, is the only one who can do so.

Ms Romani, I don't think anyone here disputes that Bishop Olmsted is within his rights to act as he as acted. But is it wise? I sense that this is what is actually being 'harped on'. The official documents that a number of us have cited here suggest various reasons that a bishop might choose to limit the availability of the cup (without implying that these are the only reasons): danger of profanation, poor catechesis, too many people and not enough ministers, the danger that there would be too much precious blood left over for the ministers to consume, and so on. What is missing, though, are any examples and instances that any of these things *ever actually happen*. My parish experience is that running out of precious blood before everyone who would like to partake of it is able to is more likely than consecrating it in such volume that it can't all be consumed afterward. We do get instances of the precious blood being accidentally spilled from time to time - usually a few drops here and there. Such things happen among priests at the altar, as well.I think we can charitably expect Bishop Olmsted to be more aware of the pastoral situation in his diocese than someone like me who is 2,000 miles away. It would have bolstered his 'case' (not that he is required to make a case, but for something as potentially inflammatory as this, it would be foolish not to) to say, "These rules are based on many disturbing incidents I've observed and have had reported to me as bishop. We will suspend availability of the cup except as I prescribe, and we will also be kicking off a major new initiative on Eucharistic catechesis."

Jim - will clarify my earlier comment....from VII documents on the restoration of the diaconate:"In reference to the munus docendi the deacon is called to proclaim the Scriptures and instruct and exhort the people.(14) This finds expression in the presentation of the Book of the Gospels, foreseen in the rite of ordination itself.(15)The munus sanctificandi of the deacon is expressed in prayer, in the solemn administration of baptism, in the custody and distribution of the Eucharist, in assisting at and blessing marriages, in presiding at the rites of funeral and burial and in the administration of sacramentals.(16) This brings out how the diaconal ministry has its point of departure and arrival in the Eucharist, and cannot be reduced to simple social service.Finally, the munus regendi is exercised in dedication to works of charity and assistance (17) and in the direction of communities or sectors of church life, especially as regards charitable activities. This is the ministry most characteristic of the deacon.10. As can be seen from original diaconal practice and from conciliar indications, the outlines of the ministerial service inherent in the diaconate are very well defined. However, even if this inherent ministerial service is one and the same in every case, nevertheless the concrete ways of carrying it out are diverse; these must be suggested, in each case, by the different pastoral situations of the single churches."My enphasis is taken from number 9 - especially, ...."and in the direction of communities or secors of the church life, especially as regards charitable activities"You are correct that the role of deacon is liturgical (one of three roles). My caution is that, given the current situation in the church, many deacons only provide a liturgical service....this is not what VII intended and not sure that it is even an organic development as much as "necessity". My other caution is that a specific liturgy has assigned ministers - guess you could have any deacon in the congregation at a specific celebration come forward to do communion but, again, wonder if that creates other liturgical issues? It would be like a deacon leaving his family in the church and coming forward to read the gospel....do you want that to happen? Like I said, it creates a legalism that I do not want in our eucharistic community.I also have reservations when we talk about decreasing and combining communities so priests are not having to say multiple liturgies - flies in the face of research that indicates folks build community in smaller, personal groups and liturgies e.g. base communities. That is the essence of our eucharistic communities rather than having the "tail" wag the dog - the tail being a current situation or disciplinary measures that create a dearth of clerics. Yes, in these modern times in terms of ease of travel, etc. there are situations in which we have multiple churches and liturgies only a few miles apart - that is a whole other issue and needs to be approached pastorally (versus some of the current diocesan wide closures and parish suppressions that studies indicate are less than pastoral).

I have received a correction as to who the Metropolitan of Region XIII is. Any letters of complaint should go to Archbishop Sheehan of Santa Fe, NM.

Bill - you're definitely pointing out real issues. I don't know what the perfect answer is. Maybe we can't do any better than what we're doing now. It may be that some reflection and conversation will help us to find a better way.

Simply a way for a careerist Bishop to ingratiate himself to the Vatican and enhance his career.

I want to say clearly once more that having a right to do something or other doesn't make it right.Any argumen there that the Bishop is Ok because he exercised his right or discretion is off track.Ms. Ferrone has shown his rationale is hardly the best and IMO his pastoral sense is quite loony.The larger problem is the notion that when the bishop or curia or Pope or local pastor says something, by their saying that , that's the final word.That attitude underscore the cheerleading that goes hand in hand with the "new" evangelization where all the answers are in already.

Perhaps Bp Olmsted is being admirably far-sighted. In much of the rest of the world, the priest shortage means that the Mass is rarely celebrated--the laity have neither the host nor the cup. The priest shortage here has meant, among other things, lay-people and deacons have stepped in to fill the void, serving, e.g., as EM's. Maybe Olmsted is helping us to envision a post-Eucharistic church--if no priests, then no Eucharist at all, or only very rarely. After all, can't have laypeople do the job. I find it interesting where we draw lines, and why those lines seem reasonable. WHY, e.g., is it unacceptable for laypeople to read to read the gospel? We read the OT and the epistles, sing the psalms, all equally canonical. Why is it reserved to the priest to hand out communion (a fairly rote act,) while the labor-intensive task of catechizing newcomers is gladly handed off to laypeople--sometimes with good preparation, sometimes not.

"WHY...is it unacceptable for laypeople to read the gospel?"Let me go one step further:Why is it unacceptable for lay leaders to preside at the eucharistic liturgy when an ordained presider (aka "presbyter" or bishop) is unavailable?Rome has boxed in the laity, nay, the Church at large.No winners.

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About the Author

Rita Ferrone is the author of several books about liturgy, including Liturgy: Sacrosanctum Concilium (Paulist Press).