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Archbishop bans Holy Communion in hand to promote reverence, stop abuses

'Mother Church enjoins us to hold the Most Holy Eucharist in the highest honor.'
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Archbishop of Kampala Cyprian Kizito Lwanga. SOURCE: NTVUganda / Youtube screen grab
Paul Smeaton By Paul Smeaton

Paul Smeaton By Paul Smeaton

KAMPALA, UGANDA, February 3, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – An African archbishop has decreed that Catholics in his diocese must only receive Holy Communion on the tongue in order to promote reverence for the Eucharist and to stop “abuses.”

“Henceforth, it is forbidden to distribute or to receive Holy Communion in the hands,” stated Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga of Kampala in Uganda, East Africa in a decree (read full text below) issued on Saturday, February 1.

“Mother Church enjoins us to hold the Most Holy Eucharist in the highest honor (Can. 898). Due to many reported instances of dishonoring the Eucharist that have been associated with reception of the Eucharist in the hands, it is fitting to return to the more reverent method of receiving the Eucharist on the tongue,” he added. 

Catholics believe that at a Catholic Mass, bread and wine is changed into the physical body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ while retaining only the appearance of bread and wine.

In 2018 Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, called on Catholics to return to the traditional practice of receiving Holy Communion kneeling and on the tongue. He said: “Why do not we kneel down to receive Holy Communion after the example of the saints? Is it really so humiliating to bow down and remain kneeling before the Lord Jesus Christ?”

Cardinal Sarah noted that receiving Communion on the hand “undoubtedly involves a great scattering of fragments.”

Archbishop Lwanga’s decree goes on to affirm the Catholic Church’s teaching on the norms for the reception of the Eucharist, explaining that those “living in illicit marital co-habitation” and those “who persist in any grave and manifest sin”, such as publicly pro-abortion politicians, may not receive the Eucharist. 

The decree reads: “Following the clear norms of Can. 915. It must be reaffirmed that those living in illicit marital co-habitation and those who persist in any grave and manifest sin., cannot be admitted to Holy Communion. Moreover, so as to avoid scandal, the Eucharist is not to be celebrated in the homes of people in such a situation.” 

The decree, which Archbishop Lwanga said was issued to “curb the abuses that had begun cropping up in the celebration of the Mass” also insisted on several other issues of liturgical discipline. 

The Archbishop ruled that laity who have not been designated by “the competent ecclesiastical authority” were forbidden from administering Holy Communion. The decree states that those who are authorized to distribute Holy Communion must themselves receive the Eucharist on the tongue before administering it to others.

Section 3 of the decree states that the “celebration of the Eucharist is to be carried out in a sacred place”, i.e. in a church rather than in residential homes, “unless grave necessity requires otherwise.”

Section 5 insists that clergy must be dressed correctly to celebrate Catholic liturgy, or otherwise remain with the laity in the main section of the church. 

The decree reads:  “In celebrating and administering the Eucharist, priests and deacons are to wear the sacred Vestments prescribed by the rubrics (Can. 929)”. According to the decree, priests who fail to wear the prescribed vestments “should neither concelebrate nor assist at the distribution of Holy Communion. He should also not sit in the sanctuary but rather take his seat among the faithful in the congregation.” 

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DECREE CONCERNING THE PROPER CELEBRATION OF THE EUCHARIST IN KAMPALA DIOCESE

February 1, 2020

Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga

  1. Henceforth, it is forbidden to distribute or to receive Holy Communion in the hands. Mother Church enjoins us to hold the Most Holy Eucharist in the highest honor (Can. 898). Due to many reported instances of dishonoring the Eucharist that have been associated with reception of the Eucharist in the hands, it is lilting to return to the more reverent method of receiving the Eucharist on the tongue.
  2. According to the law of the Church, the Ordinary Minister of Holy Communion is a Bishop. Presbyter or Deacon (Can. 910: 91). In light of this norm, it is forbidden for a member of the faithful who has not been designated as an extraordinary Minister of Communion (Can. 910§2) by the competent ecclesiastical authority to distribute Holy Communion. Moreover, before distributing Holy Communion, the extraordinary Minister must first receive Holy Communion from the Ordinary Minister according to the norm laid out in no.1 above.
  3. The celebration of the Eucharist is to be carried out in a sacred place unless grave necessity requires otherwise (Can. 932 91). Following this canonical norm, the Eucharist is henceforth to be celebrated in designated sacred places since there is an adequate number of such designated places in the Archdiocese for that purpose.
  4. Following the clear norms of Can. 915. It must be reaffirmed that those living in illicit marital co-habitation and those who persist in any grave and manifest sin., cannot be admitted to Holy Communion. Moreover, so as to avoid scandal, the Eucharist is not to be celebrated in the homes of people in such a situation.
  5. In celebrating and administering the Eucharist, priests and deacons are to wear the sacred vestments prescribed by the rubrics (Can. 929). Following this canonical norm, it is strictly forbidden to admit as a co-celebrant, any priest who is not properly vested in the prescribed liturgical vestments. Such a priest should neither concelebrate nor assist at the distribution of Holy Communion. He should also not sit in the sanctuary but rather take his seat among the faithful in the congregation. 

The above norms are meant to streamline the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, and curb the abuses that had begun cropping up in the celebration of the Mass. These norms are to be followed with immediate effect


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