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Jesuit parish creates new lay ‘ministry’ to squirt hand sanitizer before Communion

At St. Raphael the Archangel parish, the pastor, joined by hand-sanitizing 'ministers,' dons a face mask and a face shield to deliver Communion into parishioners' hands.
Mon Nov 30, 2020 - 10:22 pm EST
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RALEIGH, North Carolina, December 1, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) —­ The Jesuit pastor of St. Raphael the Archangel parish in Raleigh, N.C. has recruited special “ministers” from among the lay faithful to assist him by sanitizing the hands of communicants prior to receiving the Eucharist in the hand.

Father Phil Hurley, S.J. has instituted a number of “Ministers of Hand Sanitizer,” who, following him around the church as he distributes Communion to the faithful, squeeze a dollop of sanitizer into the communicants’ hands before Fr. Hurley will offer them Communion, again into their hands. He does this while suited up in a face mask and a visor. The measures implemented by the pastor are supposedly an attempt to safeguard parishioners from the material threat of COVID-19, even while the innovations may pose a threat to spiritual devotion and reverence of the Eucharistic Lord.

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The Jesuits USA East Province, who posted the above tweet, referred to the newly created “ministry” as an adaption to “the pandemic.” The idea of sanitizing people’s hands before Communion and priestly masking measures was the fruit of “months of planning by the church’s leadership to reopen for in-person services,” according to the parish’s pastoral associate for liturgy and music, Jeff Rice.

While St. Raphael parish might be unique in offering a new order of sanitizing “ministers,” the parish is far from alone in implementing regulations that are innovative and profane. Bishops and bishops’ conferences around the globe have been busy handing down proclamations denying the faithful Communion on the tongue and kneeling while demanding social distancing and the use of face masks.

A recent study from Denmark has concluded that wearing a face mask to stop the spread of COVID-19 is, in fact, ineffective. The study threw up some interesting and unexpected results, including that within the group which wore the mask “exactly as instructed,” as opposed to those who did so only “predominantly as instructed,” a greater percentage were infected. This is the exact opposite of what the legacy media have repeatedly reported to expect from “proper” use of face coverings.

Beside the debate over the effectiveness of face masks stands the much more controversial practice of mandating reception of Communion in the hand. Prominent figures in the Church, such as Raymond Cardinal Burke and Bishop Athanasius Schneider, have spoken publicly about the gravity of this matter. According to an instruction of the Congregation for Divine Worship to the USCCB, “[t]he faithful are not to be obliged to adopt the practice of communion in the hand. Each one is free to communicate in one way or the other.” Clearly, then, mandating reception of Communion in the hand is a violation of Church norms regarding the Eucharist.

With the above having been said, Bishop Schneider goes farther, instructing the faithful on the worthiness of receiving Communion on the tongue and the profaneness of receiving in the hand. Not only is there mounting evidence for why Communion on the tongue is safer and more hygienic than hand reception, contrary to the instructions given by some bishops, but moreover, there is a much greater chance that, by receiving Communion in the hand, one will accidentally and unwittingly drop (or otherwise lose) particles of the precious body of Christ. In addition to this, the auxiliary bishop of Astana, Kazakhstan warns of the opportunity for malefactors to commit sacrilege against the Eucharist by being more easily able to steal the host. The occasions of “irreverence” and “sacrilege” can be greatly mitigated by adopting the universal norm of distributing Communion onto the tongues of the faithful.


  communion in the hand, communion on the tongue, coronavirus, eucharist, jesuits, north carolina

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