Clearing up some of the confusion surrounding the revised General Instruction of the Roman Missal, the U.S. bishops have received a Vatican ruling permitting extraordinary eucharistic ministers to pour consecrated wine into chalices for Communion. The bishops may also seek an exception for the United States allowing those ministers to help purify sacred vessels after Communion when new church liturgy laws take effect.
The revised General Instruction of the Roman Missal, released in July, does not yet have an official date to take effect. When it is implemented, it will replace the general instruction issued in 1975. On the actions surrounding Communion, the new instruction specifies that:
The breaking of the eucharistic bread...is reserved to the priest and the deacon.
The vessels are cleansed by the priest or by the deacon or [formally instituted] acolyte after Communion or after Mass, if possible at a side table. Water alone or wine and water together are used for the cleansing of the chalice, then drunk by the one who cleanses it.
The Rev. James P. Moroney, executive director of the bishops’ Secretariat for the Liturgy said that in August the bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy discussed at some length the question of extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist participating in the consumption of remaining consecrated wine after Communion and the cleansing of the vessels. He said the committee has unanimously approved a motion agreeing to place an action item before the National Conference of Catholic Bishops asking the president to request an indultan exception to the lawthat would allow extraordinary ministers to carry out those tasks when circumstances warrant in the United States.
When the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions met in early October in Costa Mesa, Calif., the 240 delegates rearranged its agenda to hold a special session addressing issues raised by the new instruction and its handling in the United States.
They adopted a resolution that noted the disagreement and/or confusion regarding the instruction’s canonical status and effective date. It urged appointment of an interdisciplinary ad hoc committee in the bishops’ conference to study the issues and make recommendations to the conference as soon as possible.
A second resolution was aimed at the immediate appearance of an unofficial study translation in English of the Latin-language instruction. The general release of the English-language study translation has caused confusion among the faithful, the resolution said. The translation was done by the bishops’ Secretariat for the Liturgy with permission of and in consultation with Vatican authorities to help liturgists study the instruction before it takes effect and prepare for the changes that will be required. But widespread popular knowledge of the changes that resulted, coupled with a failure by some to understand that they are not yet in force, led to pressure on pastors and diocesan officials to implement the changes prematurely.
The bishops’ Secretariat for the Liturgy has urged diocesan worship offices and pastors to be patient and not rush prematurely into pending liturgy changes. My strong advice to anyone is not to change the present practice until such time as the new law takes effect and its interpretation is made clear, said Father Moroney.
Vatican Official: Denial of Rights at Root of Mideast Conflict
The ongoing conflicts in Israel and the Palestinian lands demonstrate how the violation of human rights unleashes violence, a Vatican official told the U.N. Human Rights Commission. Archbishop Giuseppe Bertello, the Vatican’s permanent observer to the commission, spoke during its general session in Geneva on Oct. 17-19. The events which have plunged the Middle East into mourning show with extreme seriousness the urgency of a continuing engagement on behalf of respect for human rights and remind us that their violation can unleash a chain of violence, sometimes uncontrollable, Archbishop Bertello said.
Pope Condemns Move Toward Gay Marriages in Netherlands
Healthy societies are founded on healthy marriages and families, relationships that cannot be replaced by legally recognized gay unions, Pope John Paul II said. Speaking on Oct. 23 to the Netherlands’ new ambassador to the Vatican, the pope condemned efforts in that European country to grant gay couples the same legal status as married couples and to allow them to adopt children. The Catholic Church, he said, insists that marriage between a man and a woman is a fundamental part of human reality and is the basic unit of society.
In China, Jailed Protestant Dies; Two Catholic Bishops Detained
A Protestant in China who had been detained since early September died in mid-October after being beaten in jail, a human rights group reported. Meanwhile, a Catholic bishop, Raymond Wang Chonglin of Zhaoxian, and Bishop Jiang Mingyuan, his coadjutor, were being detained in separate hotels in Hebei Province to study government instructions, sources told UCA News. The Protestant, Liu Haitong, 19, began vomiting and developed a fever after being beaten by public security officers in the central province of Henan, according to the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy.
Vatican Official Calls for Reciprocity From Other Faiths
Stressing the Catholic Church’s commitment to religious liberty for people of all faiths, a Vatican official insisted on reciprocal guarantees from other religions. Everyone has the right to places of worship throughout the world, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, said on Oct. 18. For this reason, he said, the Holy See asks Saudi Arabia to open a church, or at least a chapel in a hotel. Saudi Arabia permits only Muslims to practice their faith in public.
Immigrants, Prisons, Church Architecture on Bishops’ Agenda
Immigrants, immigration reform, crime and criminal justice, and the relation of church buildings and art to liturgy are among major topics the U.S. Catholic bishops will take up when they meet in Washington on Nov. 13-16. They will also vote on brief statements titled The U.S. Supreme Court and the Culture of Death and Sudan’s Cry for Peace. Final modifications in their new conference statutes are up for a vote, as is a proposal to form a new standing Committee on Catechesis. Among canonical issues the bishops will face are proposals on the age of confirmation and on episcopal permission for priests and religious who speak about matters of faith or morals on radio and television. Soulforce, a Christian gay rights group, has announced plans for protests aimed at the bishops’ meeting. The group has held similar protests during the past year at national Methodist, Episcopal, Presbyterian and Southern Baptist meetings, bringing together hundreds of demonstrators to engage in nonviolent demonstrations.
Dulles: Death Penalty Stand Prudential’ But Not Binding
Avery Dulles, S.J., said the teaching of Pope John Paul II and other bishops against the death penalty is a prudential conclusion and does not change the principle that the state has the right to impose the penalty. In a lecture at Fordham University in New York City on Oct. 17, Father Dulles said that he supported the pope’s and bishops’ position, but that Catholics were not bound in conscience to agree with it. Catholics should, however, be attentive to the guidance of the pope and the bishops, he added.
Survey Finds Polish Priests Quit Because of Celibacy, Lifestyle
A survey published in a Polish Jesuit journal shows most former priests in Poland left the priesthood after becoming demoralized by lack of wealth and disillusionment with celibacy. The editor said the findings indicated an impending crisis in Polish Catholicism and were intended as a wake-up call for local church leaders. In the survey of some 320 former priests, published in the Jesuit order’s monthly Przeglad Powszechny, three-quarters agreed that poverty was a necessary criterion of priestly life. However, the same proportion said they had been economically well situated as priests in comparison with other professional groups.
Catholics Need Oversight Agency for Charities
The financial and sexual scandals that have hit Food for the Poor underscore the need for an oversight agency within the Catholic Church that would be similar to the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, according to Frank Butler, president of Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities, known as FADICA. We are always Monday morning quarterbacking what went wrong, and we don’t have a mechanism right now that addresses charities that raise monies in the name of the church, Butler said.
Ferdinand Mahfood, the C.E.O. of Food for the Poor, admitted to diverting donations to two female employees with whom he was sexually involved. The money has been repaid, officials said. Mahfood resigned, saying his manic depression had caused inappropriate behavior. Last year, U.S. donors gave $51 million in cash toward Food for the Poor’s total 1999 budget of more than $182 millionmuch of that in in-kind donations such as clothing, according to the agency.
Food for the Poor, which is listed in the Official Catholic Directory, advertises for funds in Catholic publications, including America. A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Miami, where the charity is based, said, The archdiocese feels the board of directors acted responsibly dealing with the personal scandal, and now we are going to watch and see how the board continues to do the work they are designated to do.