Getting "out of hand"?

In a Jan. 11 post I noted thata bishop from Kazakhstanwrote an essay in the Osservatore Romano about the superiority of receivingcommunion on the tongue, while kneeling. As with most posts on liturgy, it occassioned a good deal of comment,and many informative historical references. In those comments there seemed to me to be a notable effort to keep the bishop's piece in perspective, and avoid prophecies about the rollback of Vatican II.And yet...CNS has a story saying the secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments"thinks it is time for the Catholic Church to reconsider its decision to allow the faithful to receive Communion in the hand." Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don makes his comments in a preface to a book by that same Kazakh bishop who wrote in the OR. Given the Archbishop's role--he has used the bully pulpit recently to decry "obstructionist" bishops who he says are blocking implementation of the Latin Rite motu proprio that will correct "abuses"--this does seem like an undeniable sign of a back to the future push. On one level, I am not surprised, as it reflects the thinking of the current pontificate. But Benedict has also been careful about "disorienting" the faithful with yet more changes, even if he would like to implement them. Restoring a separate Latin rite, as the motu proprio did, for a smallminority of Catholics attending their own Mass is one thing. Making everyone go back to kneeling and receiving on the tongue--or simply indicating that the current practice is less reverential--seems far more controversial.

David Gibson is a national reporter for Religion News Service and author of The Coming Catholic Church (HarperOne) and The Rule of Benedict (HarperOne). He blogs at dotCommonweal.

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