A ZENIT DAILY DISPATCH
Purification of Sacred Vessels in U.S.
ROME, 12 FEB. 2008 (ZENIT)
Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.
Q: I am an extraordinary minister of holy Communion. I am not an instituted acolyte. In December we had training in the new procedures for purifying and cleaning chalices, ciboria and other vessels used in Communion. We have been told that there have been more changes and we are to receive new training. Can you provide any information on recent changes? — F.C., Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey
A: The changes probably referred to a letter from the Holy See which indicated that the expired temporary indult (or special permission) which allowed extraordinary ministers in the United States (unlike elsewhere) to assist in the purification of the sacred vessels would no longer be renewed.
Thus the purification must be carried out by the deacon or, in his absence, by an instituted acolyte or eventually by the priest himself.
This indult was first granted by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments on March 22, 2002, for a period of three years. The official letter granting the indult said, in part: "[F]or grave pastoral reasons, the faculty may be given by the diocesan bishop to the priest celebrant to use the assistance, when necessary, even of extraordinary ministers in the cleansing of sacred vessels after the distribution of Communion has been completed in the celebration of Mass. This faculty is conceded for a period of three years as a dispensation from the norm of the Institutio Generalis, edition typica tertia of the Roman Missal."
When the indult expired in March 2005, the U.S. bishops' conference requested an extension, but no immediate action was taken due to the death of Pope John Paul II and the election of Benedict XVI. Finally, in 2006 the prefect of the Congregation of Divine Worship informed the president of the U.S. episcopal conference that the Holy Father had deemed it opportune to deny request for renewal.
The text of the letter is as follows:
CONGREGATIO CULTO DIVINO ET DISCIPLINA SACRAMENTORUM
Prot. n. 468/05/L Rome, 12 October 2006
I refer to your letters of 9 March 2005 and 7 March 2006, in which, in the name of the Conference of Bishops of which you are President, you requested a renewal of the indult for extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion to purify the sacred vessels after Mass, where there are not enough priests or deacons to purify a large number of chalices that might be used at Mass.
I have put the whole matter before the Holy Father in an audience which he granted me on 9 June 2006, and received instructions to reply as follows:
1. There is no doubt that "the sign of Communion is more complete when given under both kinds, since in that form the sign of the Eucharistic meal appears more clearly" (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, no. 281; Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 390).
2. Sometimes, however, the high number of communicants may render it inadvisable for everyone to drink from the chalice (cf. Redemptionis Sacramentum, no. 102). Intinction with reception on the tongue always and everywhere remains a legitimate option, by virtue of the general liturgical law of the Roman Rite.
3. Catechesis of the people is important regarding the teaching of the Council of Trent that Christ is fully present under each of the species. Communion under the species of the bread alone, as a consequence, makes it possible to receive all the fruit of Eucharistic grace (cf. Denzinger-Schönmetzer, no. 1729; General Instruction of the Roman Missal, nos. 11, 282). "For pastoral reasons", therefore, "this manner of receiving Communion has been legitimately established as the most common form in the Latin rite" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1390).
4. Paragraph 279 of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal directs that the sacred vessels are to be purified by the priest, the deacon or an instituted acolyte. The status of this text as legislation has recently been clarified by the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. It does not seem feasible, therefore, for the Congregation to grant the requested indult from this directive in the general law of the Latin Church.
5. This letter is therefore a request to the members of the Bishops' Conference of the United Status of America to prepare the necessary explanations and catechetical materials for your clergy and people so that henceforth the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, no. 279, as found in the editio typicatia of the Roman Missal, will be observed throughout its territories.
With the expression of my esteem and fraternal greetings, I remain,
+ Francis Cardinal Arinze
Monsignor Mario Marini
* * *
Follow-up: Purification of
Sacred Vessels in U.S. [2-26-2008]
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