Comunión en la mano
Reception of communion by batptized non-Catholics

Communion on the tongue or hand?

Cardinal Antonio Cañizares, during an interview with CNA, Jul 28, 2011, said: 

Catholics continue to be allowed to receive communion standing and on the hand. But "If one receives while standing, a genuflection or profound bow should be made, and this is not happening"

Context to understand the statements of Cardinal Cañizares

1-Communion on the tongue is the universal law of the Church and therefore should be the norm everywhere.

2-Communion on the hand is a dispensation of the law granted to those episcopal conferences who requested it.

3-We should respect and not judge the form of reception of our neighbor. Remember that the Eucharist is the sacrament of charity and unity. Communion should not be an occasion for spiritual pride and division.

4-Most important is the disposition of the heart.

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal
states that "the faithful communicate either kneeling or standing, as determined by the Conference of Bishops." The Instruction adds, "(w)hen they communicate standing, however, it is recommended that they make an appropriate sign of reverence, as determined in the same norms, before receiving the Sacrament."

In 2002, then-Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Cardinal Jorge Medina Estévez, attempted to clarify the issue after receiving complaints from lay Catholics who were being refused communion after kneeling to receive the host.

The Congregation, he wrote in an open letter, "considers any refusal of Holy Communion to a member of the faithful on the basis of his or her kneeling posture to be a grave violation of one of the most basic rights of the Christian faithful, namely that of being assisted by their Pastors by means of the Sacraments (Codex Iuris Canonici, canon 213)."

He went on to add that even when the Congregation has given its approval for a bishops’ conference to make a standing posture the norm, "it has done so with the stipulation that communicants who choose to kneel are not to be denied Holy Communion on these grounds."

He also highlighted that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, believed the "centuries-old tradition" of kneeling to receive communion is a "particularly expressive sign of adoration, completely appropriate in light of the true, real and substantial presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ under the consecrated species."

Cardinal Estévez concluded with a warning that "the Congregation will regard future complaints of this nature with great seriousness" and, if those complaints are verified, it would "seek disciplinary action consonant with the gravity of the pastoral abuse."

Book Light of the World

Q: As pope, you have begun to administer Communion on the tongue, while the communicants receive the Sacrament on their knees. Do you regard this as the appropriate posture?

A: The first point that needs to be made is that time has a structure that is common for all believers. The Old Testament prescribes this structure already in light of the creation account, presenting the Sabbath as the day when God rests and men rest with him. For Christians, time gets this structure from Sunday, the day of the Resurrection, when he encounters us and we encounter him. Once again, the most important act here is, as it were, the moment when he unites himself to us through his self-gift.

I am not opposed in principle to Communion in the hand; I have both administered and received Communion in this way myself. The idea behind my current practice of having people kneel to receive Communion on the tongue was to send a signal and to underscore the Real Presence with an exclamation point. One very important reason is that there is a great danger of superficiality precisely in the kinds of mass events we hold at St. Peter’s, both in the Basilica and in the Square. I have heard of people who, after receiving Communion, stick the Host in their wallet to take home as a kind of souvenir. In this context, where people think that everyone is just automatically supposed to receive Communion — everyone else is going up, so I will, too — I wanted to send a clear signal. I wanted it to be clear: Something quite special is going on here! He is here, the One before whom we fall on our knees! Pay attention! This is not just some social ritual in which we can take part if we want to.


Love Crucified