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Bishop Celestino Aós denies Communion to kneeling woman, April 18, 2019. Iglesia de Santiago / Youtube screen grab

April 26, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A bishop appointed last month by Pope Francis as interim leader of Chile’s largest diocese refused Holy Communion to Catholics kneeling to receive at the Chrism Mass.

A video released by the Archdiocese of Santiago de Chile, and excerpted by Gloria.TV, shows Bishop Celestino Aós denying Communion to several of the faithful who approached and knelt to receive the sacrament during the April 18 Chrism Mass at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

Pope Francis named Bishop Aós, the ordinary of Copiapó, as apostolic administrator for the chief diocese of Chile after Chilean Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati resigned following accusations of abuse cover-up. Aós himself is accused of mishandling complaints.

The video shows a woman kneeling to receive from Aós as he extends the Blessed Sacrament before her while refusing to bring the host to her level. She responds by rising and receiving Communion on the tongue while standing. It appears as if Aós is speaking to her as she listens.

The video then cuts to a man kneeling down to receive Communion from Aós, who likewise declines to give him the Eucharist. It’s not clear if Aós speaks to the man, though the man speaks briefly to Aós, possibly as though in response to him. The man remains kneeling.  

Aós then reaches over the man as he kneels there to give Communion to someone else, who will receive in the hand. The man does not receive Communion from the Bishop.

Then a young woman is shown approaching and kneeling down to receive. After Aós does not give her Communion, she rises and moves away, and Aós immediately gives Communion to the person behind the young woman in line, who is standing.

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments stated in its 2004 instruction “Redemptionis Sacramentum” that Catholics may receive Holy Communion while kneeling and should never be denied on that ground. 

“In distributing Holy Communion it is to be remembered that 'sacred ministers may not deny the sacraments to those who seek them in a reasonable manner, are rightly disposed, and are not prohibited by law from receiving them.' Hence any baptized Catholic who is not prevented by law must be admitted to Holy Communion. Therefore, it is not licit to deny Holy Communion to any of Christ's faithful solely on the grounds, for example, that the person wishes to receive the Eucharist kneeling or standing.”

Francis appointed Aós in March after accepting the resignation of Ricardo Ezzati Andrello, cardinal archbishop of Santiago.

Ezzati, 77, is over the standard age when bishops submit their resignation to the pope. However he has also been implicated in cover-up of abuse committed by Father Oscar Muñoz Toledo, the former chancellor of the Archdiocese of Santiago. Muñoz has seven alleged victims, five of them his own nephews. 

Among Aós’ prior responsibilities in Chile, he served as promoter of justice for the ecclesiastical tribunal of Valparaiso, where he investigated abuse complaints against five priests made by former seminarians in 2012. 

Aós investigated the cases for three months before dismissing them on the basis that “there wasn’t enough evidence to merit opening a canonical process.” One of the priests under investigation died in 2016, but the others have since either been suspended from the priesthood or are under investigation again – leaving some to take issue with Aós’ handling of the complaints.

Ezzati was present for the Chrism Mass, Crux reports, one of several bishops being investigated for either abuse or cover-up in Chile who showed up at Holy Week liturgies. 

Some of the accused bishops were discreet about their Holy Week appearances the Crux report said, while others were concelebrants to the apostolic administrators Francis has appointed to replace them.