As the coronavirus continues to spread, the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales has stated that it is not permissible to distribute Holy Communion in the hand in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.
The statement comes after the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales updated their advice for parishes regarding the growing epidemic. The bishops say that, if there are a number of infections in the local community or a case specifically linked to a parish, then the Host should only be given in the hand.
However, the LMS warned that “according to the universal liturgical law applicable to [the Traditional Latin Mass]”, Communion in the hand is not permissible. If the bishops suspend Communion on the tongue, it would therefore mean that Communion cannot be distributed to the congregation in the Old Rite.
“The Communion of the Faithful is in no way necessary to the validity or liceity (in such circumstances) of the Mass,” the LMS pointed out. “Should prudence dictate the necessity for such a step, the Faithful should be encouraged to make a ‘Spiritual Communion’.”
The LMS also said that Communion in the hand does not appear to be less likely to spread infection than on the tongue. “On the contrary, distribution on the hand has the result that the Host touches possibly infected surfaces, the palm of the left hand and the fingers of the right hand of the communicant, which is avoided in distribution by a priest directly onto the communicant’s tongue.”
They added that the distribution of the Host on the tongue should never involve the touching of the communicant’s tongue by the priest in any case.
The advice comes as dioceses across the world try to stop the spread of the virus. In northern Italy, several dioceses, including Milan and Venice, suspended all public Masses last week amid a big increase in the number of cases in the region.
In Rome, the French church of St Louis was closed on Sunday after one of the resident priests tested positive for the virus upon returning to France late last week. The church was later reopened.
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