SAN RAFAEL, Argentina, August 31, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – The Argentinian bishop who recently closed down his diocesan seminary for distributing Holy Communion on the tongue has now threatened his priests with canonical sanctions.
As reported by Catholic News Agency (CNA), Bishop Eduardo Maria Taussig warned in a message dated August 20 that priests who have acted with “disobedience” toward his decree mandating the distribution of Holy Communion in the hand “have caused scandal and division.”
Taussig stated that his message was a formal canonical warning, CNA wrote, “that any priest who continued to disobey his directive would face canonical sanctions.”
Meanwhile, Taussig has suspended all public Masses, emphasizing once again that Holy Communion outside of Mass can only be distributed and received in the hand.
Catholic scholars have emphasized that the faithful have a right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, as it was distributed for centuries. The reception of the Eucharist in the hand was formalized only as an act of disobedience to the Church’s teaching office after the Second Vatican Council.
The Catholic Church states clearly in Redemptionis Sacramentum that a Catholic “always has the right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue,” a right that cannot simply be taken away.
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, which tells priests how to celebrate Mass properly, says, “If Communion is given only under the species of bread, the Priest raises the host slightly and shows it to each, saying, The Body of Christ. The communicant replies, Amen, and receives the Sacrament either on the tongue or, where this is allowed, in the hand, the choice lying with the communicant.”
More than 20 Austrian doctors argued in June, “From the point of view of hygiene, it is absolutely incomprehensible to us why oral communion has been banned in Austria. We also consider this form of distribution safer than hand communion.”
The doctors emphasized that most contaminations are the result of sullied hands, quoting Dr. Filippo Maria Boscia, the president of the Association of Catholic Doctors of Italy, who wrote in May, “What is certain is that the hands are the parts of the body that are most exposed to pathogens.”
In July, Fr. Alejandro Miguel Ciarrocchi, the rector of the San Rafael diocesan seminary, had defended the right of his seminarians to receive the Blessed Sacrament according to the traditional norms, directly on the tongue.
Bishop Taussig, in response, dismissed him from his position. Then, as other priests were also administering Holy Communion according to the traditional preferences of their parishioners, Taussig shut down the seminary itself.
A diocesan spokesman explained that the Vatican was backing the decision. “In accordance with instructions from the Holy See, it has been decided to close the seminary,” he said.
“The measure taken by the Congregation for the Clergy, which is just the dicastery of the Holy Father that has jurisdictions over these cases, takes into consideration that due to the undisciplined reaction of a good portion of the clergy of the diocese, at this moment, this diocese is not able to put together a group of teachers who will conform to the church's discipline.”
In an open letter to Taussig, former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, wrote, “This decision is said to have been adopted, at your zealous insistence, by the Congregation for the Clergy, which considered inadmissible the refusal on the part of clerics under your jurisdiction to administer and receive the Most Holy Eucharist on the hand rather than on the tongue.”
“I imagined that the laudable and coherent behavior of the priests, clerics, and faithful of San Rafael offered you an excellent excuse to close the largest seminary in Argentina and to disperse the seminarians in order to re-educate them elsewhere, in seminaries that are so exemplary that now they are empty,” Viganò added sarcastically.
More seriously, he wrote, “I see nothing paternal about punishing priests who do not want to profane the Sacred Host, nor any form of true charity towards those who have disobeyed an inadmissible order. Charity is exercised in service of the Good and the True: if it has error as its origin and evil as its end, it can only be a grotesque parody of the virtue.”
“A bishop who, instead of defending the honor owed to the King of Kings and praising those who strive for this noble purpose, even goes so far as to close a flourishing seminary and to publicly reprimand his clerics is not performing an act of charity but rather a deplorable abuse, for which he will be called to respond before the judgment seat of God.”
While Taussig is using the coronavirus crisis as the pretense to ban the reception of Holy Communion on the tongue in his diocese, the actual numbers in Argentina are very low.
With a population of roughly 45 million, Argentina has reported just over 400,000 cases. However, only about 8,500 deaths were linked to the coronavirus, after nearly half a year of the country having to deal with the virus.