Expert Answer Forum

Extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist QUESTION from Audrey McMurry January 3, 2000
In our church the priest places a host in the hand of each extraordinary minister, and they receive Communion along with the priest. Is this correct? I think it diminishes the sacredness and specialness of the priesthood. Many thanks for this service, and God bless you. Audrey ANSWER by Mr. John Miskell on January 3, 2000
Dear Audrey, Thank you for this interesting question. The practice you describe is not allowed. It is disobedient. The Church issued a document with the rather long title; On Certain Questions Regarding the Collaboration of the Non-Ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of Priest. This document, issued on 15 August 1997 but only published on November 13, 1997, is the work of 8 Roman Dicasteries (Congregations and Commissions). Its scope is to provide a clear, authoritative response to the many pressing requests which have come to (these) dicasteries from Bishops, Priests and laity seeking clarification in the light of specific cases of new forms of 'pastoral activity' of the non-ordained. Further, it points out that certain practices, harmful to ecclesial communion, have developed, and that these 'tend to predominate in certain areas of the world' [Vatican Press Office release]. It's a lengthy document covering several topics relating to the laity and it specifically addresses the situation you question. (I put it in bold print) Article 8: The Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion To avoid creating confusion, certain practices are to be avoided and eliminated where such have emerged in particular Churches: (They are;) - extraordinary ministers receiving Holy Communion apart from the other faithful as though concelebrants; There it is in black and white. The document goes on to list other practices which are forbidden. The full text of this document can be found at The Catholic Liturgical Library; and on EWTN's page Wishing you and yours a blessed Jubilee. John Miskell Back to Index Page

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