Celebrant did not hand out Communion during Sunday Mass

The Priest did not participate in handing out the Eucharist today, but left the duties to two EMHC. Is this a liturgical abuse?

No. We have an elderly priest who cannot stand for long periods without something to steady himself (like the ambo or altar.) When it comes to distributing communion an EMHC takes his place.

The only alternative would be to have him sit during the distribution of communion.

Perhaps he was not feeling well and did not want to spread germs to the rest of the Assembly.

There could have been a good reason. One of our priests needs the assist of a cane to stand so he abstains from distributing communion to avoid accidentally profaning the Eucharist should he fall.

It would depend on WHY?

Our previous bishop never distributed communion because of health issues, and he’s not very old. There could be a very good reason for a celebrant not to distribute communion that you may never know. Give the priest the benefit of the doubt.

2004’s Redemptionis Sacramentum 157 says: “If there is usually present a sufficient number of sacred ministers for the distribution of Holy Communion, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion may not be appointed. Indeed, in such circumstances, those who may have already been appointed to this ministry should not exercise it. The practice of those Priests is reprobated who, even though present at the celebration, abstain from distributing Communion and hand this function over to laypersons.

Unless the priest had a good and sufficient reason for not distributing Holy Communion, he was engaging in a reprobated practice and displaying a reprehensible attitude, according to John Paul II in 1980: “Accordingly, a reprehensible attitude is shown by those priests who, though present at the celebration, refrain from distributing Communion and leave the task to the laity.” (Inaestimabile Donum 10)

What did he say when you asked him?

Was this a one time thing or a regular thing?
If its a one time thing then I’d say its pretty safe to assume either he was ill or physically hurt.
If its a regular thing then you might want to politely ask if he’s ok.

That is a very good point that few seem to ever think about.

This is the first time I attended Mass at this Church as I was out of town.

The priest seemed capable and healthy enough to distribute Communion. He appeared in his mid 50’s and did not walk with a cane.

The Mass was lightly attended, so Communion took less than 5 minutes to distribute.

As the Communion was being distributed, the Celebrant was sitting down. Just thought it was odd.

Not all disabilities are obvious. As I said before, give him the benefit of te doubt.

Early stages of Parkinson’s. e.g…

Also carpal tunnel.

Certain meds cause numbing of the hands.

HIV + or Hepatitis.


Circulatory disorders. Raynauds. A broken wrist that is not quite healed yet.

I’m beginning to think that Catholic churches shouldn’t allow visitors at Mass unless they sign a pledge that they will not make judgements about the priests, the EMHCs, the musicians, the congregation, the ushers, the greeters, the altar servers, etc.

For the last few months, a priest has been saying Mass at our parish (while we’ve been waiting for our new parochial vicar to be assigned). This priest suffers from a neuromuscular disorder, caused by a car accident several years ago, and he doesn’t do a lot of things. Last week, one of our deacons stepped forward to assist him with Holy Communion. The deacon was not dressed in his vestments, and anyone visiting might have been shocked wondering why this mere man was taking Hosts out of the Tabernacle, distributing Hosts to the EMHCs, taking care of the Body of Christ after the Communion, etc. It’s too bad he wasn’t wearing his deacon clothes, or a big sign that said, “I have the privilege of taking care of these duties because I am an ordained deacon.” I was thankful he was there to help this priest, who, BTW, is an inspiration to everyone with his cheerfulness and courage.

Just sit on it.

So, should we give the priest the benefit of the doubt or not?

Unless you know for a fact that there was not “a good and sufficient reason**” **for him not to distribute communion, yes.

The priest at our Sunday evening Mass did not serve…He seems in poor health and does sit behind the altar for most of the service. He does use a cane and can be unstable of gait at times…

Is this something I need to know? Can’t I just be OK with it, operating under the belief that my priest knows his situation best?

That’s my point, I guess I’m not putting it clearly. I know there are lots of liturgical abuses around and we should be vigilant. But I think we sometimes are too ready to jump on something and presume the worst instead of the better. When the OP saw that the priest wasn’t distributing communion his (her?) first thought was not “is he in poor health” but “is he doing something wrong”. Even if he was a regular parishoner and not a visitor he could still have a charitable attitude and presume that the priest was doing what he should be doing, given circumstances that only he and his doctor and/or confessor know for sure.

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