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RE: Administering Communion to the sick
Question from Anon on 1/16/2013:

What about administering Communion to those in the hospital? You can't really take the correct number of hosts because you don't know who will be receiving. Isn't it customary to also give Communion to the ones visiting the patient? I know somone who was Catholic but not married in the Church and this visitor received along with the sick person in the hospital. The one administering the Communion never bothered to ask if the visitor was rightly able to receive, just asked them if they wanted to and then gave it to them.

Answer by Catholic Answers on 1/16/2013:


What about administering Communion to those in the hospital? You can't really take the correct number of hosts because you don't know who will be receiving.

Who is running the EMHC program? That person should have a list of all people who are currently receiving Communion from EMHCs outside of Mass and should be creating assignments for distribution. By your report, evidently, EMHCs are just queuing up at the tabernacle, have Communion hosts spilled out uncounted, and unaccounted for, into their waiting hands, and trot off to pass them out to who-knows-who. This is entirely inappropriate and a serious abuse of the Eucharist. The situation should be immediately reported to the bishop.

The fact is, the only people who should be offered Communion outside of Mass, whether they be in their home, a hospital, a nursing home, a jail, or anywhere else, are those who have contacted a Catholic chaplain's office or local parish and have asked to be put on the Communion to the homebound list. If they are not able to make such contact themselves, it is appropriate for a caretaker to do so on their behalf. Someone from the chaplain's office or parish, whether it be a priest, deacon, or delegated layperson should then make personal contact with that person or caretaker to assess that person's ability to receive Communion. (For example, if the person has been away from the sacraments for many years, then a priest should be called upon to offer confession and/or the anointing of the sick.)

Only once that person has been visited and is recognized to be a practicing Catholic should that person be taken Communion outside of Mass by an EMHC. The EMHC does not need to offer Communion to anyone else. Any visitors or relatives who ask about Communion should be told that the EMHC only has authority to give Communion to those persons on their list and that anyone else desiring Communion who is not himself homebound should receive Communion at a church under ordinary means. Any other sick people inquiring about receiving Communion should be referred to the chaplain's office or parish to go through the process for being added to the list.

What this means is that you absolutely can take only the precise number of consecrated hosts needed for those homebound you have been assigned who are on the chaplain's or parish's list to receive Communion.

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers


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