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Online Edition - Vol. VIII, No. 3: May 2002

US "Norms for Communion Under Both Kinds" effective April 7

On the same day that the new edition of the Roman Missal was presented to Pope John Paul II, March 22, Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops received the first official Norms for the Celebration and Reception of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds in the Dioceses of the United States.

The norms, which became effective April 7, give official rules for extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, composition of the bread and wine consecrated at Mass, material for Communion vessels, and other matters related to administering Holy Communion under both species.

The document is an amended version of one originally proposed by the US bishops in June 2001, and sent last November to the Holy See for approval. That version, then titled One Bread, One Body, was itself a revision of the earlier effort (a complete rewrite of This Holy and Living Sacrifice), and it required further changes by Congregation for Divine Worship.

One notable item is that limited permission is given for extraordinary ministers to assist with the purification of vessels after Communion. The Holy See's decree grants this concession "for grave reasons" and for a period of three years.

Other norms make it clear that some recent innovations are unacceptable:

  • Only clergy, not lay ministers, may break the eucharistic bread, place it in vessels, and pour the Precious Blood into additional chalices;
  • the priest always receives Holy Communion first;
  • "The practice of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion waiting to receive until after the distribution of Holy Communion is not in accord with liturgical law";
  • Intinction is a completely acceptable form of receiving Communion in both kinds. No restrictions apply.
  • Leavened bread may not be used.

The complete text of the new norms is available on the USCCB web site -- Norms for the Celebration and Reception of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds in the Dioceses of the United States of America

(See related story in this issue Radical Relocation of Transcendence)

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