Extraordinary Ministers giving blessings

Are extraordinary ministers supposed to be giving blessings to children (and some adults not having received the Sacrament of Holy Communion) during Communion?

I’ve read somewhere else (I cannot remember where now, or I’d quote it here) where they should not being doing that. I am confused. Our priest changes sides quite regularly, as to where he stands during Communion, which leaves us sometimes on the side where an extraordinary minister is at. Then I feel we are causing problems when I have my children go hop in line over where the priest is. I don’t have a problem if it is a Deacon distributing the Eucharist, as he has received the Sacrament of Holy Orders and can give blessings. I just really don’t feel comfortable with the Extraordinary Ministers doing it (and not sure they are supposed to be). There are many times they just stare at my children, like they don’t know what to do anyway, which I feel really has my children losing out on something special.

Okay, I’ve rambled on too much now. Please help me out in this! :slight_smile:

Nobody should be giving blessings in the Communion line since that’s not what it’s for. What you describe is just one of the problems inherent with this unapproved practise.

Hey KathyTX!

 Here's what I know: extraordinary ministers are NOT supposed to give a blessing, because they have not received Holy Orders. I could be wrong though. :shrug: In some Catholic family traditions, the elders of a family may "bless" the younger ones. This simply means that they are praying for them. So there's nothing wrong with other people blessing your children, but I'm not sure how it is when you specifically are going up to receive communion. 

"Nobody should be giving blessings in the Communion line since that's not what it's for. What you describe is just one of the problems inherent with this unapproved practise." Phemie: I'm sorry, but I do not agree with you. I think children absolutely have the right to be blessed by a priest in the communion line. Also, could you please give me reference to where it is said that it is an "unapproved practice"? Because if I am wrong, I most certainly would liket o correct myself!!! :blush:

Your friend in Christ,

Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers are commissioned through the Bishop, by the Pastor. When they serve Holy Communion, they are assisting the Priest Celebrant. We are encouraged to bless the children by making a cross on their forehead and saying “May the Lord bless you.” It may be that some EEMs are dismayed by other EEM who are rather joyful about this duty … but, it isn’t hard and it is sometimes infrequently needed. I would be happy to hear how others bless the children, and the adults who are not in Communion but come up with arms crossed.


The EMHC should not touch anyone or use any hand gestures when you say “May the Lord bless you”. The matter of giving blessings in the Communion line is still being studied by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Disciple of the Sacraments. But it has been made known to us that people not receiving Communion should not be approaching in the Communion line and children should not be presented to the priest,deacon or EMHC for a blessing. I’ll let others post the documents—again.

No, Extaordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are not permitted to give blessings. First of all they should not be touching anyone’s head with the hand that is touching the Eucharist. EMOHC should be checking their hand after serving to make sure there are no crumbs. I dip my fingers in the holy water reserved by the tabernacle for that purpose and then carefully wipe them on the purificator which is then laundered properly.
EMOHC do not have church authority and should not be mimicing the priest or deacon who do have the authority to give blessings.
The church has not given permission for anyone to come up with arms crossed for a blessing. This is a random action that has worked itself into the liturgy without any instruction from Rome. You will not find it in the Instructions for Mass called the GIRM or the Sacramentary.

Here’s some resources-



Recently a member of this forum sent a letter to the CDW about this practice . You can read about it here-


I dip my fingers in the holy water reserved by the tabernacle for that purpose and then carefully wipe them on the purificator which is then laundered properly.

It is not holy water. Regular water is used.

First of all, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are commissioned only to assist in the distribution of Holy Communion, nothing more, nothing less. Furthermore, this is not a permanent position. It was never meant to be.

Since we are not Eucharistic Ministers (this term applies only to the priest and the bishop since only they can confect the Sacrament), we do not have any “privileges” other than to assist with the distribution of Holy Communion when there is a real need for our help.

This is the text of the observations made by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments:

  1. The liturgical blessing of the Holy Mass is properly given to each and to all at the conclusion of the Mass, just a few moments subsequent to the distribution of Holy Communion.

**2. Lay people, within the context of Holy Mass, are unable to confer blessings. These blessings, rather, are the competence of the priest (cf. Ecclesia de Mysterio, Notitiae 34 (15 Aug. 1997), art. 6, § 2; Canon 1169, § 2; and Roman Ritual De Benedictionibus (1985), n. 18). **

  1. Furthermore, the laying on of a hand or hands — which has its own sacramental significance, inappropriate here — by those distributing Holy Communion, in substitution for its reception, is to be explicitly discouraged.
  1. The Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio n. 84, “forbids any pastor, for whatever reason to pretext even of a pastoral nature, to perform ceremonies of any kind for divorced people who remarry”. To be feared is that any form of blessing in substitution for communion would give the impression that the divorced and remarried have been returned, in some sense, to the status of Catholics in good standing.
  1. In a similar way, for others who are not to be admitted to Holy Communion in accord with the norm of law, the Church’s discipline has already made clear that they should not approach Holy Communion nor receive a blessing. This would include non-Catholics and those envisaged in can. 915 (i.e., those under the penalty of excommunication or interdict, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin).

I forwarded a copy of this to my parochial vicar and to a mutual priest friend of ours, as well as to my pastor and the administrator of the Cathedral. My PV was relieved and said that he knew that there was something inherently wrong with this practice. He was pleased that the CDWDS validated his gut instinct.

I understand what all of you are saying, and I do agree with it.

Here’s the problem. We are new members of a parish (I’m a cradle Catholic, my husband is going through RCIA and my children, 9 and 13, will be receiving instruction on the Sacraments in the fall with all the other children who are receiving it), and this seems to be a pretty standard practice, children going up the Communion line with, or without, a parent for a blessing. My husband does not go up, but I have seen other RCIA candidates (is that the right word) do this. If we happen to be able to attend the Mass that they prefer the RCIA candiates to attend (not very often, due to dh’s works schedule), the release the RCIA candidates after the homily, so that they can go and discuss the scripture readings and the homily.

My children go up for a blessing more so because everyone else is doing it, and they get the nastiest looks if they remain in the pew, like they have not gone to Confession or something, and cannot partake of the Eucharist (due to their age).

This is a huge parish and we have a Monsignor and a Parochial Vicar, in addition to 4 Deacons, none of which seem to ever be at the Sunday evening Mass, which we have been having to attend frequently, due to dh’s schedule. It happens on some Saturday Vigil Masses too. I don’t know if I should bring it up to the Monsignor, or if I’d be viewed as a new “troublemaker”, since everyone seems quite comfortable with these practices.

So, what should I do? Approach the Monsignor and give him a copy of what I got from the Adoremus link? Tell the children to stay in the pew while I go up to receive the Eucahrist? I will be so glad when all of this is a moot point for my family, once the children and husband receive the Sacraments. It will still disturb me, but won’t be such a problem for me. I wish a more conservative parish were accessible to us, but the nearest one is an hour away from my house.

Thanks! I’ve really appreciated all of the information.


I think if it were me I’d just sit my kids down and tell them what I’d found out about the practice. At their age they are quite capable of understanding that people often start doing things with the best of intentions but not always appropriately. Let them read the letter from the CDW if you have to; the 13 year old would probably understand it.

What I would not do is be concerned about how people look at them if they don’t go up to receive or for a blessing. (How times have changed since I was a kid and most people only went to receive the first couple of Sundays after they’d been to confession and then not again until their next confession.) Why your children remain in the pew is nobody’s business. If someone should be rude enough to ask I’d tell them that they can’t yet receive Communion and that I’m not comfortable with them going up for a blessing in light of the instruction from the Congregation for Divine Worship.


As this practice is still under consideration with the Congregation, I would just get in the priest’s line (after having checked with him as to it being his choice in his parish). My grandchildren are much too young to sit by themselves and I know how much difference it made to me when I was three to have the priest be personally caring, besides, Jesus told us to not stop little children from coming to Him!

I know of many adults who feel very uncomfortable remaining in the pew during Communion, let alone impressionable children!:eek:
The Congregation said they are still considering it.

Although this is probably a good practice, I don’t recall ever seeing anything written addressing this.

Canonist Ed Peters calls the practice of EMHCs giving blessings an abuse. It has always driven me nuts to see it, because it seems to me just one more incursion of the laity onto the turf of priests. I wish priests would take back their rightful turf and put the kibosh on all intrusions thereon.

The practice of priests giving blessings at communion time is also an abuse (albeit well intentioned). My quite young pastor explained at mass that some people have asked why he doesn’t give blessings at communion. He said it is because he is not supposed to! He said he would be glad to give blessings after mass to the children and anyone else.

Seriously? I always thought it was Holy Water at our church. I’ll check. Thanks for the input.

During my RCIA instruction we were quite unfortunately instructed by the instructors to go up and recieve a blessing from the EMHCs… or as they like to call them the “Eucharistic Ministers” :dts:… The level of misinformation I was provided with (and I’m sure many others are as well) on this matter was astonishing. With a letter straight from Rome you would think people would catch on. :shrug:

Exactly. And in a Prish near me this unapproved practise has now become Benediction :eek::eek: The EMHC will raise the sacred host above the child’s head and make the sign of the cross over it. :confused::eek::mad:

Pastors need to take a closer look at who is teaching RCIA, and what is being taught.

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