Non-Celebrating Priests as Ministers of Communion

Photo Credit: David Eucaristía. CC0 1.0

I go to a larger church with a number of priests in residence. The mass I attend only has one presider and sometimes a deacon. The presider rotates among the various priests in the parish. Each Sunday before the distribution of communion, a number of priests wearing cassocks, surplices, and stoles swoop into the sanctuary from various doors in order to distribute communion. They have not been part of the assembly until this moment, and as soon as communion has been distributed, they disappear again, presumably returning to wherever they came from.

My experience at this parish is not unique. The phenomenon has become so prevalent I wanted to look at what the liturgical documents say.

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) no. 162 says this about the ministers who distribute communion:

The priest may be assisted in the distribution of Communion by other priests who happen to be present. If such priests are not present and there is a very large number of communicants, the priest may call upon extraordinary ministers to assist him, e.g., duly instituted acolytes or even other faithful who have been deputed for this purpose. In case of necessity, the priest may depute suitable faithful for this single occasion.

This is confirmed in the Norms for the Distribution of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds, nos. 26-28.

In my estimation, there are several issues here with the practice of priests coming in for just the distribution of communion.

The first revolves around the phrase “by other priests who happen to be present (praesentes).” A generous read of this text would suggest that priests and deacons in the general vicinity of the church may be considered “present” and thus can and should function as ordinary ministers for the distribution of communion. However, given that the GIRM is talking about the Eucharistic celebration, a more accurate read of the text would suggest that only those who are participating in the actual celebration of the Mass are “present” and thus should serve as ordinary ministers of communion.

This seems the more accurate interpretation since Redemptionis Sacramentum nos. 154-160 envisions that clergy who have been present for the Eucharistic celebration should distribute communion as ordinary ministers of communion before calling upon extraordinary ministers of communion. But Redemptionis Sacramentum does not envision a scenario where clergy who have not been part of the whole Eucharistic celebration come in to distribute communion and then leave.

This leads, however, to a second more fundamental question: If a priest has not participated in the Eucharistic liturgy, should they be distributing communion? I would say that they should not.

First, the practice of priests coming in before communion and then leaving again after communion seems to fly in the face of Vatican II’s call for full, conscious, and active participation. These ministers are not modeling that type of participation. But more importantly, it seems to devalue the recovery of Christ’s presence in the whole Eucharistic celebration – Word proclaimed, Eucharistic species, priest, and assembly. It disrupts the careful balance sought in the conciliar documents between these various modes of Christ’s presence in the liturgy.

A parallel can be established here to the rules concerning the laity’s reception of communion in the GIRM. GIRM par. 85 indicates that the faithful should ordinarily receive communion from the same Mass:

It is most desirable that the faithful, just as the priest himself is bound to do, receive the Lord’s Body from hosts consecrated at the same Mass and that, in the instances when it is permitted, they partake of the chalice (cf. no. 283), so that even by means of the signs Communion will stand out more clearly as a participation in the sacrifice actually being celebrated.

The faithful are ordinarily to receive from the same elements consecrated at the Eucharistic celebration in order to solidify their participation in the Eucharistic sacrifice. At the same time, GIRM no. 85 makes it clear that while the reception of communion from the elements consecrated in that Eucharistic celebration is the ideal, communion from the tabernacle is also acceptable. As the late Robert Taft has noted:

Eucharistic Communion is not just the sacrament of the communion of the individual with God in the Body and Blood of his Incarnate Son, which Communion from the consecrated species reserved in the tabernacle provides. Eucharistic Communion is the ecclesial communion of the faithful with one another in Christ by sharing together his sacrificial and heavenly banquet. Communion from the tabernacle can hardly claim to signify this except, of course, in the case of Communion brought to those unable to attend the banquet. The stubborn refusal to perceive this seems the result of a shift of emphasis away from Christ’s presence in the community as the purpose of his Real Presence in the eucharistic gifts, to an almost exclusive focus on his presence in the consecrated gifts alone. “The practice of distributing Communion from the tabernacle…erodes the vital connection between the assembly celebrating Eucharist and the Eucharist they receive during the communion rite.” [Taft quoting Judith Kubicki][1]

In a similar way, the distribution of the body and blood of Christ by those who are not present throughout the Eucharistic celebration also disrupts the connection between the faithful’s reception of communion and the sacrifice being celebrated by the assembly. The distribution of communion by those who have not been part of the assembly disrupts the sign-value of the assembly at precisely the moment where the faithful experience the connection between the various modes of Christ presence in the Eucharistic species, in the presider, and in the assembly. While there may be some pastoral circumstances that call for the distribution of communion by ministers (ordained and lay) who have not been present throughout the whole Eucharistic celebration, ordinarily, the ministers for communion should be drawn from those who have been present.

I bring this up as we embark upon the Eucharistic revival in the United States because I have become increasingly concerned that in many places this revival is attending only to the presence of Christ in the Eucharistic species and not the manifold presence of Christ in the liturgy, especially in the Word of God and in the assembly. I would even say that the priests who come in for just the distribution of communion draw attention to Christ’s presence in the ordained clergy in a way that is detrimental to Christ’s presence in the assembly. The end result is that the careful balance sought by the conciliar documents is not being upheld.

But where is this practice coming from? Perhaps it is motivated in some circles by clericalism and in other circles by practicalities. But regardless of the intentions of those who have adopted it, the practice seems to have its vestiges in pre-Vatican II forms of distributing communion before, after, or during Mass by another priest using “the rite for the distribution of communion outside of Mass” from the Rituale Romanum. This practice was common in the pre-Vatican II liturgy until new rubrics for the distribution of communion within Mass were issued in 1961.

The mixing of practices for the distribution of communion inside and outside of Mass may also help explain the vestments worn by these priests. The donning of the cassock, surplice, and stole seems to be in tension with GIRM no. 336, which notes that an alb is the proper garment for ordained ministers exercising a ministerial function within the Eucharistic celebration. The cassock and surplice, as noted in Redemptionis Sacramentum no. 128are for those clergy who are present but do not concelebrate. At the same time, Redemptionis Sacramentum no. 15 notes that those priests who are present but do not concelebrate should still distribute communion before any extraordinary ministers of communion are called upon. This would then imply the use of a cassock and surplice for these ministers as they distribute communion; however, no mention of the stole is made. The practice of wearing a stole seems be influenced by the current Rite of Distributing Holy Communion Outside of Mass no. 20, which notes that: “the minister of communion, if he is a priest or deacon, is to be vested in an alb, or a surplice over a cassock, and a stole.” The choice of vesture by these priests mixes practices from the distribution of the Eucharist outside of Mass within Mass itself, precisely what was often done in the pre-Vatican II liturgy. This is even more so the case when the priest distributing communion does not receive communion, which raises its own theological issues.

At times pastoral circumstances dictate practices outside of the norm, but the distribution of communion by those who have not been present for the Eucharistic celebration should not be the norm. Based on the liturgical principles outlined in the GIRM and other liturgical documents, the following is how the documents seem to rank the order of precedence of ministers for the distribution of communion:

  • Presider
  • Concelebrant(s) and ministering Deacon(s)
  • Priests and deacons who are present
  • Instituted acolytes
  • Extraordinary ministers of communion
  • Other faithful deputized for that single liturgy
  • Clergy who have not been present for the Eucharistic celebration

[1] Robert Taft, “‘Communion’ from the Tabernacle: A Liturgico-Theological Oxymoron,” Worship 88 (2014): 18.

The title of this post has been updated and the content lightly edited.







42 responses to “Non-Celebrating Priests as Ministers of Communion”

  1. Frank J. Hartge Avatar
    Frank J. Hartge

    I’ll take “swooping in” priests over EMHCs every time!

    1. Richard R Reed Jr Avatar
      Richard R Reed Jr


  2. Lee Bacchi Avatar
    Lee Bacchi

    I agree 1,000%. When I was first ordained (1977), and for about 10 years afterwards, I was a swoop-in priest. After that, not. And, yes, the ER is about much ,much more than the Real Presence or adoration.

  3. Lee Bacchi Avatar
    Lee Bacchi

    Can someone please provide a link to the Taft article mentioned by the author? I do not have the technological savvy to retrieve this. Thanks so much!!

    1. Nathan Chase Avatar
      Nathan Chase

      I can send you a note via email.

  4. Paul Inwood Avatar
    Paul Inwood

    It seems clear that the mind of the legislator is that pop-up priests should not be materializing when they have not been part of the celebration up to that point.

    The same mindset can be found in GIRM 206. “No one is ever to join a concelebration or to be admitted as a concelebrant once the Mass has already begun.”

    1. Nathan Chase Avatar
      Nathan Chase

      Great additional support in GIRM 206. Thank you, Paul!

      1. Janice Clark Avatar
        Janice Clark

        Way back Pre-Vatican II, it was common to have swooping-in priests to distribute. I do not see why this should be a problem!

  5. Ann Carney Avatar
    Ann Carney

    I never understood the use of swooping in priests. It happened at every Mass, every Sunday, and it was abundantly clear that the practice was intended to avoid the use of EMHCs as much as possible.

  6. Timothy Johnston Avatar
    Timothy Johnston

    Yes!!! Thank you for offering this. I too have noticed this becoming a trend that I definitely didn’t observe growing up.

  7. John Bouc Avatar
    John Bouc

    Good essay. I have extended family whose parish regularly has “swoop-in” priests. On an academic level, I appreciate your work to assemble document references. On a practical level from the pew in my experience, I really get the impression during these masses that nothing was super important at Mass (including the Eucharisitic prayer) until communion itself. (Ironically, they struggle with how many people leave immediately after communion.)

    However, in addition this item at this parish, ONLY priests distribute communion at this church’s partial communion rail. Installed ministers distribute at other communion lines. I worry that this sends a dangerous message that the Holy Eucharist can somehow be made “more holy” depending on the minister.

    1. Nathan Chase Avatar
      Nathan Chase

      Thank you for these important insights. I have similar concerns.

    2. Alan Griffiths Avatar
      Alan Griffiths

      It’s not just ‘walk on’ clergy, congregational behaviours are sometimes equally bizarre.

      Some years ago I conducted a liturgical ‘audit’ of a large church in my home diocese. Among the many interesting instances of congregational behaviour I recorded, was the fact that, at one Saturday evening Mass, approximately one third of the congregation either arrived between the opening hymn and the homily or left immediately after Holy Communion. This was repeated on other Saturday evenings, though to a lesser degree.

      One Sunday morning, I even spotted one person enter the church at Communion time, join the ‘procession’ to receive. I watched this person, wondering what they would do next. After receiving, they immediately left the Church.

      I also once argued with another parishioner of the Church I served who on weekdays took to arriving at Mass round about the ‘Agnus Dei’ and nevertheless coming to Holy Communion. I remonstrated with her about this and she told me that ‘my priest’ had said it was ok to do this on weekdays. I said that he was giving her misleading advice and she just didn’t believe me.

      I really do wonder what goes on sometimes inside the heads of the faithful!


      1. Todd Flowerday Avatar
        Todd Flowerday

        This is actually more understandable. Clearly, the laity had been long-condition that nothing of consequence happens before they arrive or after they leave. The audit might well have asked: does the parish have a music director? are the lectors well trained? is the preaching good? are the announcements too long? too little time between Masses?

        Many years ago a colleague complained about people leaving early, and was bothered people didn’t wait for the final blessing. Maybe his parishioners felt blessed by their encounter with the Lord at Communion and felt everything after that was anti-climactic.

        The harsh truth is that if people aren’t present for some parts of the Mass, maybe it’s because we liturgists give them nothing of value at those moments.

      2. Nathan Chase Avatar
        Nathan Chase

        I absolutely agree that the faithful can also do some strange things. Todd, I think your insights are spot on.

  8. Chaplain Donna Zuroweste BCC, MDiv. Avatar
    Chaplain Donna Zuroweste BCC, MDiv.

    “swooping clergy happens for AOS in hospitals as well, and also from other nations, to “save” us.

    The Synodal Church is forming (and has been for some time), without the doctrinaires, collared and not. The Trinity’s people hunger for a deeper communal (i.e. Eucharistic/Cosmic Christ) faith belief, not rules and regulations crumbs.

  9. Mark J Miller Avatar
    Mark J Miller

    I saw such swooping priests, or rather priests “in the wings” way back in the 60’s, when first present at Roman Catholic mass. Haven’t seen it much since, but it seemed odd and disjointed then, and now.

  10. Sue Gerlach Avatar
    Sue Gerlach

    Great article. Thank you.

  11. Sean Connolly Avatar
    Sean Connolly

    How’s about when the “swooper” is the pastor of a large parish or group of parishes, who assists at the distribution and stays through the end of Mass, personally delivering the parish announcements to all or most of the parishioners in this way, making himself visible, present, and available to them, although he cannot be reasonably expected to attend, in full, every weekend Mass, approximating at least in some, community-building ways, through personal sacrifice of time, the ideal of a single Sunday celebration?

    1. Nathan Chase Avatar
      Nathan Chase

      I think these things have to be considered on a case-by-case basis. It also makes a difference, I think, if it is only 1 priest and not several and if the priest stays for a purpose (read announcements, etc.). However, I still think this should not be the norm. I think a similar thing can be said about guest preachers that only come in for the homily.

  12. Jonathan Day Avatar
    Jonathan Day

    I agree with Nathan’s points in this well-crafted essay. My former London parish once had priests who vested, right before communion, came in to help with distribution, and then left. It was not only jarring, but sometimes led to problems — for example, when a priest had to be summoned from a sensitive conversation elsewhere in the building. The parish created a program for EMHCs that is reverent, involves the EMHCs in training and prayerful reflection, and served well during the worst of COVID-19. It continues successfully today.

    I wish that the title and the piece had avoided the “swooping in” language, simply because those who oppose all use of EMHCs can, on the other side, indulge in exaggerated, histrionic terms: “an entire platoon of EMHC’s swarming about the sanctuary like hornets”, to pull a random comment from a large echo chamber. The priests who came in to distribute communion entered and left quietly and reverently. What was jarring was that, for the most part, you then didn’t see them again that day, so there were two communities in the sanctuary. But they didn’t swoop!

    1. Nathan Chase Avatar
      Nathan Chase

      Thank you for your comments, Jonathan. In retrospect, I should have chosen another title. I just struggled to think of another term to describe the phenomenon that was not long and was still catchy. The term also does not bring the same connotations to me as it does to some others, but that just means I should have been more diligent in the writing process. I understand your point. To echo what you said: I have never seen these priests be anything but quiet and reverent (except for sometimes making a communion announcement). So I am sorry for the poor use of terms. That sentiment was definitely not what I intended.

    2. Nathan Chase Avatar
      Nathan Chase

      I have taken the step of updating the title accordingly.

    3. Adam Berning Avatar
      Adam Berning

      Thank you for your article on this phenomenon. A few things which may help understand the viewpoint of priests who do this practice may be found in an authentic interpretation of Canon 910 given in 1988 by the Pont. Council of Legislative Texts which confirmed that an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion may not distribute Holy Communion if there are ordinary ministers present in the church, even if they are not acting in a ministerial capacity. This obviously goes back to the issue of what precisely “present” means, but it seems to give some credence to the practice they are engaging in. This text along with the 1997 document “On Certain Questions Regarding the Collaboration of the Non-Ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of the Priest” may be helpful in getting a fuller scope of what the church sees as the role and necessity of the extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion in the context of the Mass.

  13. Alan Johnson Avatar
    Alan Johnson

    Where are these places with so many priests? Many parishes in the UK are being amalgamated or closed for a lack of them.

    1. John Kohanski Avatar
      John Kohanski

      I should say the same–and lucky for you if there is more than one priest in a parish. Here in the NE USA parishes are combining and closing, and buildings are being sold off at an alarming rate because both a lack of priests and a lack of parishioners. Many churches are served by one priest alone, after having been combined with others into one new parish. There are no priests to swoop and if this is happening somewhere, it should be the least of your problems.

      1. Tom Lindner Avatar

        My thought exactly.
        One suspects not far away there’s a parish with one priest presiding at four Masses, or one priest driving among three or four parishes. What’s described seems to be a rather poor distribution of clerical labor.

    2. Tom Lindner Avatar

      My thought exactly.
      One suspects not far away there’s a parish with one priest presiding at four Masses, or one priest driving among three or four parishes. What’s described seems to be a rather poor distribution of clerical labor.

  14. Allan J. McDonald Avatar

    My first year of priesthood, in 1980, my pastor insisted that his two associate pastors show up to distribute Holy Communion. My second year we were assigned a new pastor and he changed that and every parish since, including our cathedral, no priest ever came in simply to distribute Holy Communion. The pastor I succeeded in 2004, who was pastor in that parish for 30 years, insisted that his associate pastors be at every Mass in its entirety, not to concelebrate but to be “in choir” and then assist with Holy Communion. There were Eucharistic ministers too as the common chalice was used (which was the case in all my parishes since 1980 until about two years ago). I personally think that now that the ministry of acolyte is opened to lay men and women, that there needs to be a strong formation program, diocesan based, to screen, catechize and form Eucharistic ministers not only from a doctrinal point of view but in sound pastoral practices. And yes, I think they should serve the Mass, be properly vested and not just “pop up” from the congregation, especially if someone assigned doesn’t show up. But with that said, I think we have bigger fish to fry than to complain about priests who are assigned to the parish showing up to distribute Holy Communion. I should add, though, that I did ask the parochial vicars I had to show up at all Masses to greet parishioners before and after Mass since that was the only time they actually saw us.

  15. Ronald Franco Avatar
    Ronald Franco

    I remember well, back in the 1950s and 60s, how on Sundays several priests (in habit, surplice, and stole) would appear – immediately after the Consecration – and distribute Communion from the Tabernacle. My sense is that this was normal practice wherever there were enough priests to do so and enough communicants to warrant it. Since the liturgical changes, waiting until the proper time for Communion has thankfully become standard practice, but at least in one of my early assignments in a large parish it was still expected that we help out at Communion. I suspect that the gradual increase in the use of Extraordinary Ministers of Communion coupled with the declining number of extra priests around has tipped the scale on this practice. When I was a pastor, in a relatively small parish, the priest and the deacon distributed the hosts and EMs the chalice. (An EM filled in if the deacon was absent.) Then the pandemic ended Communion from the chalice, and it was just the priest and deacon giving Communion. In any case, I think with fewer active priests and more other things for them to do on Sundays, the old practice of non-concelebrants showing up to distribute Communion will inevitably continue to die out. I doubt, however, that it makes much difference to most communicants. If anything they may prefer seeing all the other priests and may perhaps like the idea that they are all actually working! But the practice can only survive in the ever decreasing number of places where there are lots of physically able priests in residence.
    Another problematic practice which I think still survives in some settings is having one person appear to preach at all the Masses, even if he is not concelebrating or serving as deacon. Apart from exceptional cases – mission appeals, etc. – I personally think this as poor a practice liturgically as what we have been discussing in terms of Communion.

    1. Nathan Chase Avatar
      Nathan Chase

      I agree with your note about preachers. I made a comment earlier about that too. It is problematic for the same reasons.

  16. John Lilburne Avatar
    John Lilburne

    Perhaps part of the solution is to stop lay ministers entering and exiting the sanctuary during Mass.
    The General Instruction of the Roman Missal has “120. When the people are gathered, the Priest and ministers, wearing the sacred vestments, go in procession to the altar in this order:”. For an instituted lector it is explicit in n. 195: “Then the reader takes his own place in the sanctuary with the other ministers.”
    But instead of ministers entering the sanctuary at the entrance procession, often what happens is:
    readers enter the sanctuary for the readings and then exit;
    a reader enters the sanctuary for the Universal Prayer and then exits;
    Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion enter the sanctuary for Communion and then exit.
    With this practice (which is not described in the liturgical books) it is not much of an extra step for ordained ministers to enter and exit the sanctuary to distribute Communion.

    1. Paul Inwood Avatar
      Paul Inwood

      The difference is that the lectors and EHMCs have been there for the entire celebration, whereas the priests haven’t.

      As far as whether readers should be in the sanctuary rather than among the people, the clue to GIRM 195 is actually para 194, which mentions the reader “wearing approved attire”. The legislator is thinking of the situation in seminaries where those called upn to read, whether instituted or not, are typically vested in an alb and remain on the sanctuary with the other ministers. This does not usually happen in parish practice.

      It brings up another question, that of robes, which frequently makes its presence known in discussions about whether cantors and choirs should be robed. My rule of thumb is that we should distinguish between two different types of minister: (a) those whose “natural habitat” is the sanctuary — priests, deacons, servers — who by tradition are robed or vested; (b) those who come forth from the people to minister to the people — reader, cantor, commissioned minister of Communion — but whose natural habitat is among the people in the nave and who therefore do not need to be robed.

      In my view, choirs only need to be robed if they are walking in procession. If they stay in one place there is no need for robes, and this also helps the choir to be identified as part of the assembly (cf.GIRM 312). A cantor who wears a robe, emerges from a door onto the sanctuary, and remains there for the whole celebration, is saying, three times over, “I’m one of them, not one of you.”

    2. Allan J. McDonald Avatar

      Thanks for the citations in the GIRM about “ministers” and where they should be. I guess, as with most things in the “Reformed” Mass, it all boils down to custom rather than law and for the most part what a liturgist taught, usually in the 70’s, becoming quasi-canonical. I might be wrong, but I think it was Fr. Eugene Walsh, SS who suggested laypeople coming up from their places in the nave to do their ministry and then leave. And no liturgical garb that makes them look clerical. That was even suggested for children altar servers. I saw that in many parishes in Baltimore in the late 70’s where Walsh was very influential. And who is to say that the lectors and Communion ministers aren’t coming in late and leaving early if they are seated hidden in a large church’s nave, just to do their ministry? I saw a lector at one of the Masses I celebrated leave the church after he read the reading! This obsession with dividing clergy and laity is bizarre. I’m a priest but a layman first. Every person in any ministry starts as a lay person. We are all baptized human beings, not from Mars once ordained! Some are ordained others aren’t. Mature Catholics can handle that and even lay people in clerical garb.

      1. Todd Flowerday Avatar
        Todd Flowerday

        “And who is to say that the lectors and Communion ministers aren’t coming in late and leaving early if they are seated hidden in a large church’s nave, just to do their ministry?”

        Um. Pretty much nobody is saying that. Liturgical ministers I know have a sense of dedication and honor I see lacking on occasion in the clergy. The calling to read and serve is often well-discerned; better compared to clergy, who, by and large, are ordained to do quite an array of tasks, liturgical, catechetical, administrative, etc.. When distributing the Eucharist is one task among several, can we count on a priest to give it the same attention as a person does when it is their sole ministry for the Church? Do any of us know know a priest who says that distributing the Eucharist is the most important thing he does, or why he became a priest?

        “This obsession with dividing clergy and laity is bizarre.”

        An interesting observation, given the recent emphasis on division coming from Rome.

  17. Edward Hamer Avatar
    Edward Hamer

    Interesting article – thank you!

    I found it instructive because I often encountered this practice at a large London church I used to attend, and though I greatly preferred it to the use of EMHCs I do think after reading this that the practice is strange. Perhaps such priests could act as servers (bearing in mind that it would typically happen in large churches where that second priest might be saying a different Mass that same day)? Then they would clearly be participating fully in the liturgy as well as helping distribute Communion. Receiving Communion from a concelebrating priest does seem more natural.

    Paul’s comments about robes etc. is also helpful. I dislike the practice of lay people in their civvies entering the sanctuary from the nave: it is visually jarring and detracts from the sense of the sanctuary as the Holy of Holies. Ideally the readings before the Gospel should I think be done by vested acolytes, to avoid that practice and maintain the visual harmony of the sanctuary.

    The same could be said for the distribution of Holy Communion: we should just return to using the altar rail, with the priest moving up and down with the ciborium and a vested acolyte following with the chalice. Nice and simple, with no creation of “elite” lay people who receive communion first.

    1. Ren Aguila Avatar
      Ren Aguila

      Regarding the use of the altar rail: you will be pleased to know that the overwhelming number of Episcopal churches I’ve attended in the U.S. and the Philippines prefer to use the altar rail or give communion in a similar way if there isn’t a rail, rather than making the people fall in line to receive it in procession (which a lot of people don’t know that it is, anyway). And in a good number of cases, people still kneel to receive Holy Communion. I don’t know why Rome did away with both, but I wonder if it’s time to bring kneeling back. That’s another discussion entirely, though.

  18. Jim Pauwels Avatar
    Jim Pauwels

    I last saw “swooping priests” at Brompton Oratory in London, some 15-20 years ago. As others have noted, it was common in the 1960s (and presumably for decades/centuries beforehand) out in the hustings where I grew up.

    The practice makes unhelpful and presumably false distinctions between clergy and laity, implying the former’s hands are holy, while the latter’s are profane.

    I am grateful for this post!

  19. Jean-Paul Marie Justin Avatar
    Jean-Paul Marie Justin

    Dear Nathan
    Thank you for a most engaging “conversation”. The erudite tone of the essay, tempered with candor engaged the community as few others have. Your participation in the posted comments section helped to clarify and expand the scope of the essay. And, the humility with which you took criticism of the catch phrase also served to elevate the engagement of the community.
    While the entry point seemed obscure at the onset, it opened consideration of many of the aspects that are indeed relevant in this season of Eucharistic Renewal. That said, I look forward to hearing more from you and all that you bring to the table.

  20. John Lilburne Avatar
    John Lilburne

    I think this shows approval for Priests, not participating in Mass, to distribute Communion ahead of Extraordinary Ministers.

    Pontifical Commission for the Authentic Interpretation of the Code of Canon Law, Response to dubium, 1 June 1988: AAS 80 (1988) page 1373.

    “Responsio ad propositum dubium
    Patres Pontificiae Commissionis Codici Iuris Canonici Authentice Interpretando proposito in plenario coetu diei 20 Februarii 1987 dubio, quod sequitur, respondendum esse censuerunt ut infra :
    D. « Utrum minister extraordinarius sacrae communionis, ad nor­mam cann. 910 §2 et 230 § 3 deputatus, suum munus suppletorium exercere possit etiam cum praesentes sint in ecclesia, etsi ad celebrationem eucharisticam non participantes, ministri ordinarii, qui non sint quoquo modo impediti ».
    R. Negative.
    Summus Pontifex Ioannes Paulus II de supradicta decisione cer­tior factus, die 1 iunii 1988 eam publici iuris fieri iussit.”

    From accessed 29 March 2023.

    Google translate of this gives:

    Answer to the question of purpose
    “The fathers of the Pontifical Commission for the Authentic Interpreting of the Code of Canon Law decided in the plenary session of February 20, 1987 that the following question should be answered as below:
    D. “Whether the extraordinary minister of holy communion, according to the norm of can. 910 §2 and 230 §3 appointed, can exercise his supplementary function even when there are present in the church, even if not participating in the Eucharistic celebration, ordinary ministers who are not hindered in any way.
    R. Negatively.
    The Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, informed of the aforementioned decision, ordered it to be published on June 1, 1988.”

    But I think correct vestments may be needed. Ceremonial of Bishops n. 50 has “A minister who is not wearing a vestment, a cassock and surplice, or other lawfully approved garb may not enter the sanctuary (chancel) during a celebration.”

    1. Paul Inwood Avatar
      Paul Inwood

      I don’t believe this applies to the cases frequently encountered, as mentioned in Nathan’s original post, where assisting priests are not present in the church but enter it via the sacristy or another route merely for the purpose of distributing Communion. The phrase cum praesentes sint in ecclesia is the important one here.

      I think everyone is in accord with priests who are attending at Mass but not concelebrating taking precedence over lay ministers of Communion, but that is a different scenario.

      1. John Lilburne Avatar
        John Lilburne

        I think it applies to the situation in Nathan’s original post. If they were present in choir dress from the beginning of Mass they would be participating in the Eucharistic celebration. This answers the question for when they have not been participating in it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *