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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, July 16, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Salt Lake City’s bishop and its cathedral’s pastor denied a Catholic Holy Communion on the tongue. 

Videos of two live-streamed Masses at the Cathedral of the Madeleine capture the tensions and fraught quandaries that result from bishops banning reception of Holy Communion on the tongue due to COVID-19 fears, even though 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. 

In this case, Bishop Oscar Solis issued a directive May 27 that as a measure to combat the coronavirus, Catholics are to receive Holy Communion “only on the hand.”

The man was denied Holy Communion on the tongue, but only after receiving it on the tongue a week earlier at the same Cathedral. 

The June 28 video of a Cathedral Mass (at approximately 26:30) shows the unidentified man, along with his daughter, approaching Fr. Joseph Delka and kneeling to receive Holy Communion. After some discussion, the priest gave him Holy Communion on the tongue.

The man returned the following week, and the July 5 video of the Mass shows him and his daughter approaching Bishop Solis, who was wearing a mask, and kneeling to receive (at around 59:08).

A discussion follows, and then Fr. Martin Diaz comes over and waves the bishop away. Solis turns and heads to the altar while the would-be communicant, appearing dismayed, remains kneeling for some moments before getting up and returning to his pew.

According to Fr. Diaz, the man, who he says was a visitor from Texas, was being “disruptive and disobedient.”

“I realized then, of course, that, you know, the bishop was put in this very awkward situation. I asked the bishop to go sit down. It was the end of the line anyway. And I took care of the rest of the people for the distribution of Communion. So then the man was disruptive and disobedient,” he told LifeSiteNews in a telephone interview.

“I don’t know his heart, of course,” added Fr. Diaz.

Fr. Diaz said that he did not refuse either this man, or anyone, Holy Communion, but that it was the man himself who chose not to receive by insisting upon reception on the tongue and not in the hand. 

“The requirement is that they receive in the hand. … We’ve never turned anyone down for Communion. If they choose not to receive, that’s really up to them,” the priest said. 

“What I’m doing is giving in the hand,” Fr. Diaz said. “So the unintended consequence, you know, it’s the principle of double effect. … So you do one thing and it has a secondary effect. So the effect of me giving Communion on the hand has the secondary effect of not giving on the tongue,” he added.

“But I’m not choosing to not give on the tongue, I’m choosing to give in the hand.”

According to the principle of double effect, a morally good action can be performed even though it has an unintended consequence that is morally wrong. The classic example is that surgery to remove a pregnant woman’s cancerous uterus is morally licit even though the unintended result is the death of an unborn child.

It is not clear how the principle of double effect applies in this case.

Fr. Diaz also stated that according to canon law, the bishop regulates the sacraments in the diocese, and it is within his legitimate authority to issue a directive prohibiting the reception of Communion on the tongue.

However, many high-ranking churchmen would dispute this, including Cardinal Robert Sarah, head of the Congregation for Divine Worship, who reiterated in a May interview that the Church has ruled that “the faithful are free to receive Communion in the mouth or hand.”

Moreover, a 2009 letter from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the year of the H1N1 “swine flu” pandemic, references the instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum, promulgated in 2004 by the Congregation for Divine Worship, as Dr. Peter Kwasniewski noted in March.

Redemptionis Sacramentum clearly stipulates that “each of the faithful always has the right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue.”

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) also referenced Redemptionis Sacramentum in April guidelines for all bishops that stated that “it is possible to distribute on the tongue without unreasonable risk.”

Meanwhile, 21 Austrian doctors, as well as Professor Filippo Maria Boscia, the president of the Association of Catholic Doctors of Italy, and Bishop Athanasius Schneider are among a number of Catholic priests and laity who argue that distributing Communion on the hand carries a greater risk of passing on viruses than does distributing Communion on the tongue.


5 reasons why Catholics should only receive Holy Communion on the tongue