With the arrival of a new pastor and his associate, we are now seeing Extraordinary ministers removing Hosts from the Tabernacle after Mass, while the priest is still present in the Church, for distribution to the sick, etc., in the parish. Upon approaching the priest, he stated that the pastor allows that to be done. We understood that they should not be doing this. Are there any official Church documents you could suggest that I could find on-line or you could send me to rebuke this new practice in our parish. It appears that priests usually do not go along with anything not officially in print. Thank you and God Bless!
While I cannot find specific documents that address this situation, I think the following from the GIRM should be considered a general rule of thumb:
- …[Extraordinary ministers] are always to receive from the hands of the priest celebrant the vessel containing either species of the Most Holy Eucharist for distribution to the faithful.
The same rule also applies for exposing the Eucharist in CDF’s Eucharistiae Sacramentum:
- …In the absence of a priest or deacon or if they are lawfully impeded, the following persons may publicly expose and later repose the eucharist for the adoration of the faithful:
a. an acolyte or special minister of communion;
Those rules deal specifically with distribution of communion at Mass and exposition of the Eucharist but their general principle would appear to be useful in addressing your question. A search of the policies of various dioceses reveals that many stipulate the norm is that EMHC for the sick should receive their pyx at Mass from the priest and then go directly to the homes of the sick.
There are obvious exceptions where a priest might not be always available (e.g. hospitals, the parish priest is away, etc.) but in the situation you describe there are no extenuating circumstances. Even when bringing communion to the sick and housebound the clergy are still the ordinary minister of communion and the laity the extraordinary.
As I said, I cannot point to a definitive statement that specifically addresses the situation you describe. However, the general principles that are used in similar circumstances clearly prohibit the laity from accessing the tabernacle if there is a priest or deacon present. There doesn’t appear to be any reason why the EMHC for the sick can’t receive their pyx following the prayer after communion (as in other dioceses) or why the priest cannot distribute them after the Mass.