Liturgical Abuse


If you come across liturgical abuse, A) what should you do/ how do you handle that and B) how does this happen and how do parishes get away with it?

I’ve only been Catholic for 3 years so I don’t know all the ins and outs. I was out of town though on vacation and the parish I checked out had little dipping bowls they were using instead of chalices and everyone was dipping the bread into the wine. I was looking at it just thinking the wine which is the blood of Christ could easily be getting dripped all over the place. It just reminded me more of someone dunking cookies instead of receiving the host.


(Sigh!) Yes, that is an abuse, no questions asked.

It appears that a) this is not your parish, and b) you will have limited opportunities to deal with it.

The normal procedure is to speak with the pastor. There seems to be a presumption that all pastors are totally and completely up to snuff on the rules and regulations (they should be; but then there is reality). This would give him the opportunity to resolve the matter without a fuss of larger portions.

The second step would be to give him a second chance, indicating that your next step would be with the bishop.

The third step would be with the bishop. That in itself can be problematical, as the bishop might not ever see the letter (most bishops have staff, and it is not unheard of that staff may act as gate keepers and choose what passes on, and what doesn’t).

The fourth step would be to send a letter off to the appropriate dicastery in Rome.

Me - i would combine the last two, with a clear indication to the bishop that it was being sent to Rome at the same time, and a clear indication to Rome that the bishop was just hearing of it.

Bishops have had innumerable complaints; some valid, some not; and over the last few decades it has appeared that this process has not had tremendous success. One case comes to mind; in that, the issue was video taped, and that got Rome’s attention. Pictures of this issue would be most helpful (in accord with the “smoking gun” analogy). However, as you were elsewhere on vacation, it probably isn’t going to happen.

Certainly you could write to the bishop; not sure how much that will succeed.

How do they get away with it? Some parishes have a history of liturgical abuse; and the parishioners either support it, or don’t know enough to recognize that it is an abuse; and those who are frustrated have left. And so it continues. Bishops do not micro manage parishes. They also have to weigh issues that you and I don’t have to confront; for example, in a diocese out west, there was a confrontation between the bishop and the priest, and it has gone everywhere but south - and probably that too. As in, one has to determine whether the matter is worth the risk; in this case, it appears that a goodly number of parishioners may be leaving the Church. Glad I don’t have to make those decisions.

People are human; priests are people, and St Paul says we are all sinners. That is not too justify it, but simply a reminder that we all fail.


If what you saw was the faithful dipping consecrated hosts into consecrated blood, it is intinction and may only be done by the clergy, not by the laity (including EMHC). Note that intinction is a valid and common way some of our Eastern Catholic brothers and sisters receive, however it is always done by a Priest.

In addition to the good advice Ojtm gave above, and I know this may sound silly, but since you were traveling, check to make sure this was a latin rite Catholic Church before you go further. I know that when I travel I have had to triple check to make sure I was not going to an Orthodox Church, Lutheran, Anglican or one of the many break-away ones that appear Catholic on the “outside”.

I will also second Ojtm. If this was a Catholic parish, the Bishop needs to step in.


I found them using so I’m pretty sure they are Catholic. I have no experience with rites outside of the Latin, Novus Ordo and Tridentine- it seemed like a standard NO mass to me. If it wasn’t it was the laity that were dunking, not the priest. I think I will try contacting the bishop.


I think you are taking the right course and your courage for speaking up to correct an abuse and make us all better is admirable. Will keep you in my prayers tonight.


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