On Facilitating Reception Of Communion In Certain Circumstances
Sacred Congregation of the Sacraments
Given on January 29, 1973
The proof of his boundless charity that Christ the Lord left to his Bride the Church, namely, the inexpressible and supreme gift of the Eucharist, requires us to deepen our appreciation of this great mystery and to share ever more fully in itssaving power. Accordingly, the Church, in its pastoral zeal and care, has repeatedly made practical laws and timely statements of doctrine aimed at furthering devotion toward the Eucharist, the summit and center of Christian worship.
The new conditions of the present seem to demand that, without prejudice to the supreme reverence due to so great a sacrament, access to communion be made easier,so that by sharing more fully in the effects of the sacrifice of the Mass, the faithful may more willingly and intensely give themselves to God and to the good of the Church and of all humanity.
The first measures to be taken are meant to prevent reception of communion from becoming either impossible or difficult because there are not enough ministers. Measures must be taken, secondly, to preventexclusion of the sick from this great comfort of the spirit, the reception of communion, because of their inability to observe the law of fast, even in its current less severe form. Finally, it seems advantageous in certain instances to allow the faithful who request it to receive communion a second time on the same day.
In response therefore to the preferences of several conferences of bishops,the following norms are issued on:
1. special ministers for distributing communion;
2. broader faculty to receive communion twice in a day;
3. mitigation of the Eucharistic fast in favor of the sick and the elderly;
4. devotion and reverence toward the blessed sacrament whenever the host is placed in the hand.
I. Special Ministers Of The Eucharist
There are several situations inwhich a shortage of ministers of communion has been pointed out:
— within Mass because of a great crowd of people or some disability of the celebrant;
— outside Mass when distance makes it difficult to bring communion, especially as viaticum to the sick in danger of death; or when the sheer number of sick people, especially in hospitals or similar institutions, requires severalministers.
In order, then, that the faithful who are in the state of grace and rightly and devoutly wish to share in the sacred meal may not be deprived of this sacramental aid and solace, Pope Paul VI has decided it opportune to authorize special ministers who will be empowered to give communion to themselves and others of the faithful, under the exact and specified conditions here listed.
I. LocalOrdinaries possess the faculty enabling them to permit fit persons, each chosen by name as a special minister, in a given instance or for a set period or even permanently, to give communion to themselves and others of the faithful and to carry it to the sick residing at home:
a. whenever no priest, deacon, or acolyte is available;
b. whenever the same ministers are impeded fromadministering communion because of another pastoral ministry, ill-health, or old age;
c. whenever the number of faithful wishing to receive communion is so great that the celebration of Mass or the giving of communion outside Mass would take too long.
II. The same local Ordinaries possess the faculty of granting individual priests in the course of their ministry the power to appoint,for a given occasion, a fit person to distribute communion in cases of genuine necessity
III. The local Ordinaries also may delegate these faculties to auxiliary bishops, episcopal vicars, and episcopal delegates.
IV. The fit person referred to in nos. I and II will be designated according to the order of this listing (which may be changed at the prudent discretion of the local...