Are lay people allowed to administer Communion to the sick and disabled?

Is it okay for lay people to administer communion to the sick and disabled in their homes?

The ministry of care in my parish does this and I would like to know the Canon law that allows/disallows this.

It seems that only a priest should be able to do this.


The Church document Immensae Caritatis specifically allows duly appointed extraordinary ministers to do this: “Local Ordinaries possess the faculty enabling them to permit fit persons, each chosen by name as a special minister, in a given instance or for a set period or even permanently, to give communion to themselves and others of the faithful and to carry it to the sick residing at home”.

The applicable section of the Code of Canon Law (CIC) states: “When the need of the Church warrants it and ministers are lacking, lay persons, even if they are not lectors or acolytes, can also supply certain of their duties, namely, to exercise the ministry of the word, to preside offer liturgical prayers, to confer baptism, and to distribute Holy Communion, according to the prescripts of the law” (CIC 230, §3).

Also, the recent Church document Redemptionis Sacramentum confirms this practice: “A Priest or Deacon, or an extraordinary minister who takes the Most Holy Eucharist when an ordained minister is absent or impeded in order to administer it as Communion for a sick person, should go insofar as possible directly from the place where the Sacrament is reserved to the sick person’s home, leaving aside any profane business so that any danger of profanation may be avoided and the greatest reverence for the Body of Christ may be ensured. Furthermore the Rite for the administration of Communion to the sick, as prescribed in the Roman Ritual, is always to be used” (RS 133).

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