I’ve been around a while and remember receiving Holy Communion from the Priest while kneeling at the altar. Now, it seems that everyone in the church is handing out Hosts. Why do we do this? By what, whose authority. Is it in the CCC or the Code of Canon, or the new Roman Missal? I know there’s training etc that is done but what I’d like to know is where the authority comes from for the Extraordinary Eucharist Ministers of Holy Communion?
In 1971 the Congregation of the Sacraments approved a request of the American bishops to allow laypersons to assist priests in giving Holy Communion. In 1973, Pope Paul VI, in the instruction Immensae Cariatis extended this permission to the universal Church.
It is also in the 1983 Code of Canon Law (emphasis added):
Can. 230 §3. 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.
Can. 910 §1. The ordinary minister of holy communion is a bishop, presbyter, or deacon.
§2.** The extraordinary minister of holy communion is **an acolyte or another member of the Christian faithful designated according to the norm of can. 230, §3.
The extraordinary ministry in current times is regulated by sections 146-153 of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacrament’s Redemptionis Sacramentum.