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Bishop Joaquim Giovani MolArchdiocese of Belo Horizonte

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (LifeSiteNews) — In a now viral video, a Brazilian bishop has been filmed denying a young girl Holy Communion as she tried to receive on the tongue while kneeling. 

A short video clip was published on social media channels in recent days, depicting young people receiving Holy Communion during Mass for the Transfiguration in a church on Sunday. The Mass was offered by Bishop Joaquim Giovani Mol Guimarães, who is the auxiliary of the Brazilian Archdiocese of Belo Horizonte and who had performed the Sacrament of Confirmation before Mass.

The footage shows one young woman approaching the bishop, who proceeds to kneel down to receive Communion in contrast to those preceding her who were receiving in the hand.

At this point, Bishop Mol – who had been dipping the hosts into the chalice and the placing the intincted hosts into communicants’ hands – pulled back from giving her Holy Communion, instead bending down to encourage her to stand up.

The woman remained kneeling, and the bishop returned to cajoling her to stand, but returned to his throne after being unsuccessful. 

A priest and two older women then accompanied the young woman off the altar, where Holy Communion had been distributed. As other worshippers queued up to receive Communion from a priest away from the altar, the video clip ends with the young woman appearing to make her way to the back of the queue, still not having received the Eucharist. 

The video clip became widely shared by outraged Catholics on social media, with some calling for the bishop to be “immediately defrocked,” or “brought up on canonical charges.”

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LifeSiteNews contacted the archdiocese for a comment but did not receive an answer by time of publication. 

However, a public statement was issued by Mol in which he justified his actions as based on COVID-19 protocols. 

Mol stated that before distributing Communion, “I instructed everyone about the form of Communion that would be in the hand.” This was due to his COVID-19 restrictions, he stated: 

[B]ecause, since the first signs of the pandemic, I have avoided giving Communion in the mouth out of respect and care for the person who receives Communion, and mainly out of respect for the care of the people who will communicate next; and that it would be standing, thus facilitating the movement of people as it was a special festive day. 

Referencing the young woman who wished to receive on the tongue and while kneeling, Mol stated, “I tried to show her that it would be better to receive communion as everyone else was receiving it.” 

He added that the young woman did not accept and was then escorted to communicate from the parish priest, who was a “good friend” of the bishop’s and the woman’s. 

She participated normally in the post-Communion prayer, the blessing and a photo that we all took together, joyfully, the catechists, the priest and I. It was all very beautiful.

Mol argued that the footage was “a manipulated video because it was ‘cut’ at the moment” the young woman received Communion and “many began to publicize that she was denied communion.”

While the footage did not show whether the young woman received Communion from the priest or not, the video clearly shows that she was denied Communion from Bishop Mol.

The bishop’s statement appears to fall foul of ecclesiastical law regarding the reception of the Eucharist. The Vatican’s 2004 Redemptionis Sacramentum states that “‘the faithful should receive Communion kneeling or standing, as the Conference of Bishops will have determined,’ with its acts having received the recognitio of the Apostolic See.” 

The document explicitly condemns the refusal of Holy Communion based on an individual’s choice to kneel, or to receive on the tongue. The document states:

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.

Furthermore, reception of Communion on the tongue is outlined as the norm, with permission needing to be sought in order to receive on the hands: “each of the faithful always has the right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue.”