Extending the Practice of Communion Under Both Kinds

Author: CDW

Extending the Practice of Communion Under Both Kinds

Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship

That sacramental communion brings the faithful more completely into the celebration of the eucharist is the teaching of the Church's entire tradition. For through communion the faithful come to share more completely in the eucharistic sacrifice. They take part, that is, not simply by faith and the prayers they utter or simply by an affective, spiritual union with Christ offered on the altar, but by receiving Christ himself sacramentally so as to obtain for themselves a fuller share in the effects of his holy sacrifice.

To the end that the fullness of the sacramental sign in the eucharistic banquet would be more striking for the faithful,[1] Vatican Council II decreed that in certain instances, to be determined by the Apostolic See, the faithful could receive communion under both kinds.[2] This was without prejudice to those dogmatic principles laid down by the Council of Trent to teach that Christ, whole and entire, as well as the genuine sacrament are received under the form of either bread or wine.[3]

The will of Vatican Council II in this regard has been gradually put into practice,[4] as the preparation of the faithful has gone forward, in order to ensure richer results in devotion and spiritual profit from this change in eucharistic discipline.

Subsequently there has been a growing desire to increase the instances in which administration of communion under both kinds would be allowed, according to the different situations in the various parts of the world and among different peoples.

Having considered the petitions of many bishops and conferences of bishops, as well as of superiors of religious families, this Congregation, at the direction of Pope Paul VI, therefore decrees the following regarding permission to administer communion under both kinds.

1 Communion may be distributed under both kinds, at the discretion of the Ordinary, in those cases determined by the Apostolic See, according to the list in the Appendix to this document.

2 The conferences of bishops moreover have the power to decide to what extent and under what considerations and conditions Ordinaries are empowered to grant communion under both kinds in other instances that are of special significance in the spiritual life of any community or group of the faithful.

3. Within such limits, Ordinaries may designate the particular instances, but on condition that they grant permission not indiscriminately but for clearly defined celebrations and that they point out matters for caution. They are also to exclude occasions when there will be a large number of communicants. The groups receiving this permission must also be specific, well ordered, and homogeneous.

4. The local Ordinary may grant this permission for all churches and oratories in his territory; the Ordinary of religious, for all houses of his institute.

Both must ensure observance of the norms laid down by the Apostolic See or the conference of bishops. Before granting the permission, they must have assurance that all measures can be carried out that will safeguard the holiness of the sacrament.

5. The necessary catechesis must precede admission of the faithful to communion under both kinds in order that they will have a clear knowledge of the meaning of this rite.

6. For a fitting administration of communion under both kinds care must be taken that all is done with proper reverence and that the rite outlined in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal nos. 244-251 is observed.

The character of the particular liturgical assembly as well as the age, circumstances, and preparation of the communicants should be considered, then the choice should be made of the way of giving communion that ensures its being done with dignity, devotion, propriety, and the avoidance of the danger of irreverence.

Among the ways of communicating prescribed by the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, receiving from the chalice itself ranks first. Even so, it is to be chosen only when everything can be carried out in fitting order and with no danger of irreverence toward the blood of Christ. When they are available, other priests or deacons or even acolytes should be chosen to present the chalice. The method of communicating in which the communicants pass the chalice to one another or go directly to the chalice to take Christ's blood must be regarded as unacceptable.

Whenever none of the ministers already mentioned is available, if the communicants are few and are to receive communion under both kinds by drinking directly from the chalice, the priest himself distributes communion, first under the form of bread, then under the form of wine.

Otherwise the preference should be for the rite of communion under both kinds by intinction: it is more likely to obviate the practical difficulties and to ensure the reverence due the sacrament more effectively. Intinction makes access to communion under both kinds easier and safer for the faithful of all ages and conditions; at the same time it preserves the truth present in the more complete sign.

On 26 June 1970 Pope Paul VI approved and confirmed this Instruction and ordered it to be made public.


1 See GIRM no. 240 [DOL 208 no 1630].

2 See SC art. 55 [DOL 1 no 55].

3 See Council of Trent, sess. 21, <Decr. de Communione eucharistica cap.> 1-3: Denz-Schon 1725-29.

4 See SCR, Decr. <Ecclesiae semper>, 7 March 1965 [DOL 222]; Instr. EuchMyst, 25 May 1967, no. 32 IDOL 179 no. 1261]. GIRM nos. 76 and 242.