Vatican document on EMHC's?

I was wondering if there was a document released from the Vatican on Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, kind of talking about their purpose, use in parishes, etc. Could someone help me out with this? Thanks. :slight_smile:

Well, there is Redeptionis Sacramentum paras 154-160

Was there anything else you were looking for?

No, I think that is it. Thank you!

In Article 160 of the document from the Holy See, we read:
*] 160. Where such extraordinary ministers are appointed in a widespread manner out of true necessity, the diocesan Bishop should issue special norms by which he determines the manner in which this function is to be carried out in accordance with the law, bearing in mind the tradition of the Church.
[/LIST]The norms for distribution of Holy Communion in the United States that our Bishops have issued may be found here.

You may be interested in Article 30, which gives specific instruction, since most parishes now distribute under both species.

  1. When Holy Communion is to be distributed under both species, careful planning should be undertaken so that:
    *]a suitable number of ministers of Holy Communion are provided at each Mass. For Communion from the chalice, it is desirable that there be generally two ministers of the Precious Blood for each minister of the Body of Christ, lest the liturgical celebration be unduly prolonged.

Thanks! God Bless, Memaw

The two ministers of the Precious Blood for each minister of the Body of Christ is necessary if almost everyone receives from the Cup.

It’s been my experience that that varies greatly by parish. Some parishes, such as mine, could easily do with one minister of the Precious Blood for each two ministers of the Body of Christ because fewer than 30% of those who receive a Host go to receive from the Cup.

That is rather sad, huh? Maybe some day soon, your congregation will gradually appreciate the privilege of receiving the Chalice, as well. Does Canada have similar instructions from your Bishops?

My church layout is such that there has to be two ministers, since our priest and and an EMHC distribute the host in the center aisle, and there needs to be a station on both the right and left of them to allow people to exit by their side aisles, even if it were only 30% (which it is not, thankfully!).

The original document allowing EMHCs is
1973’s [/FONT]“Immensae Caritatis”.
This is the original English translation of the document, note the language when referring to ‘special ministers’. That translation changed in subsequent documents and has been corrected in subsequent versions of this particular document.

It can be found in Latin here, go to page 264:

The limitations on when EMHCs can be used have been repeated in subsequent documents***.


1997’s INSTRUCTION **[/FONT]“On Certain Questions Regarding the Collaboration of the Non-Ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of the Priest”

[FONT=Arial]And again, as previously posted, in 2004’s “Redemptionis Sacramentum”

During a liturgy committee meeting several years ago, I brought up these documents to point out that 2 priests in my parish were sitting watching while 3 EMHCs were distributing Communion.

“Shouldn’t we ask the scheduled EMHCs not to all come up so that the priests are the ones giving out Communion?” I asked.

One of those priests, who had been our then-Pastor’s seminary professor, stood up in the meeting, shook his finger in my face and yelled angrily, “We have never listened to Rome on this and we aren’t about to start now!” So, no, I don’t think the CCCB has ever issued anything on EMHCs.

It’s also the layout that requires two ministers of the Cup on Sundays in our parish. One would be sufficient but the priest distributes the Hosts by himself at the top of the center aisle as the parishioners form two lines. The EMCHs offer the Cup near the top of the side aisles by which we return to our pews.

On Saturday there are so few people that one minister of the Cup is sufficient since the Communicants form a single line to receive the Host and can simply turn left to go receive the Precious Blood and then go down that aisle and around the back to regain their seats.

These are general universal norms, but as I mentioned above, each Conference of Bishops is directed to provide instructions for their own country. I asked whether such a norm was promulgated in Canada, to which you have not replied yet.

I will note that the guidelines you posted from I.C. in 1973, as well as I.D. in 1980, precede the USCCB’s norms at least by 10 years when you consider that the GIRM was revised in 1983. Our clergy will always abide by the most current instructions given for their own country, and are not restricted to using the universal norms, as rightfully stated in Art. 160 of R.S.

EDIT: I submitted this before I saw your reply about the CCCB. Thank you.

But even the USCCB’s Norms limit the use of EMHCs to:

  1. When the size of the congregation or the incapacity of the bishop, Priest, or Deacon requires it, the celebrant may be assisted by other bishops, Priests, or Deacons.42 If such ordinary ministers of Holy Communion are not present, "the Priest may call upon extraordinary ministers to assist him, that is, duly instituted acolytes or even other faithful who have been duly deputed for this purpose. In case of necessity, the Priest may depute suitable faithful for this single occasion."43 Extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion should receive sufficient spiritual, theological, and practical preparation to fulfill their role with knowledge and reverence. **When recourse is had to Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, especially in the distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds, their number should not be increased beyond what is required for the orderly and reverent distribution of the Body and Blood of the Lord. **In all matters such Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion should follow the guidance of the Diocesan Bishop.

Yes, of course, the Bishops are asking that discretion be used, so that the number used is not increased beyond what is orderly. But their guideline is to use two EMHC’s for each minister of the host. Do you disagree with their competence and/or jurisdiction to promulgate this norm? Each parish must determine what is “orderly” for their own distribution, but always within the guidelines.

IOW, we should not use 3 or 4 EMHC’s for distristribution of the chalice.

I don’t disagree with their competence, but even that article says “desirable… generally… lest the liturgical celebration be unduly prolonged.” They are not mandating two ministers of the Cup for each minister of the Body of Christ.

It still comes down to the parish level and the priests’ duty to not use EMHCs unless they are truly needed.


Rather insulted that it is presumed those, for instance myself, who do not receive from the cup refrain from doing so because we do not recognize the privilege.


Somehow, I get the feeling you are personally opposed to using the Bishops’ guideline of two EMHC’s for the Chalice for each minister of the Host. I have seen posts such as this in the past, which seem to suggest that parishes who follow the permitted norms are really not in accord with the Holy See. That is a very false assumption and it bothers me every time I come across this opposition.

Point of Fact,
it is permitted in the US -
it is the guideline -
it is not reprobate to follow it.

In truth, our parish could easily do without EHMC’s (other than perhaps to take communion to the hospital, home bound or old folk’s home) as we are a small parish in Alaska with only 1 pastor/priest. I don’t quite know how it happened but somehow after the big V2 change however, every parish I’ve belonged to–including ours here–uses EHMC’s and it’s more or less considered to be a “right” or just a normal part of a normal Mass. I’m not sure if that’s bad or good, and I’m pretty sure that it isn’t exactly what the hierarchy had in mind when they made the allowance, but it is what it is. The parish I’m currently in, uses them mainly for the distribution of the wine/blood of Our Lord except on really big occasions where a large crowd is expected such as Midnight Mass on Christmas–in which case one of the ministers may help with the host as well as Father.:shrug:

You have no cause to be insulted, Tee, and if you are, then it is your own failure to recognize that there was no intent to insult anyone if they choose not to receive both species. That being said, you may want to see the* basis* for my comment is in line with the Mind of the Church, as formulated here by our Bishops in the US.
*]20. The Council’s decision to restore Holy Communion under both kinds at the bishop’s discretion took expression in the first edition of the Missale Romanum and enjoys an even more generous application in the third typical edition of the Missale Romanum:
Holy Communion has a fuller form as a sign when it takes place under both kinds. For in this form the sign of the Eucharistic banquet is more clearly evident and clearer expression is given to the divine will by which the new and eternal Covenant is ratified in the Blood of the Lord, as also the connection between the Eucharistic banquet and the eschatological banquet in the Kingdom of the Father.30
The General Instruction further states that "at the same time the faithful should be instructed to participate more readily in this sacred rite, by which the sign of the Eucharistic banquet is made more fully evident."31

*]21. The extension of the faculty for the distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds does not represent a change in the Church’s immemorial beliefs concerning the Holy Eucharist. Rather, today the Church finds it salutary to restore a practice, when appropriate, that for various reasons was not opportune when the Council of Trent was convened in 1545.32 But with the passing of time, and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the reform of the Second Vatican Council has resulted in the restoration of a practice by which the faithful are again able to experience "a fuller sign of the Eucharistic banquet.
[/LIST]Note the word “able” does not translate as “must.” Article 20 does encourage participation in the fuller sign, while I’m sure, they respect the individual’s choice…

Perhaps we shall need agree to disagree. When someone implies “lack of appreciation” or “ignorance” to be my motivation, but without cause to do so, I cannot help but feel insulted. :shrug:

We shall also need agree to disagree that such attribution is in line with the Mind of the Church, which as you correctly note, respects the individual’s choice to not partake from a common cup, even while appreciat[ing] the privilege of receiving the Chalice.


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