What is the history of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion?

When did the church start allowing Eucharistic Ministers to serve the Body of Christ? I have seen Eucharistic Ministers help out with serving the Blood of Christ, but not the Body of Christ at Mass. Maybe it was the fact that a woman was serving the Body of Christ that through me off guard. Thanks in advance.

In 1969 the Church issued the document Fidei custos which authorized the laity to help distribute communion under certain conditions. The document, apparently, wasn’t clear enough and debate ensued about the required conditions for extraordinary ministers of communion. In response to the confusion in 1973 Paul VI authorized the document Immensae caritatis which clarified the conditions/situations in which such extraordinary ministers would be appropriate and laid down norms for the establishment of the roles.

In more recent times the Church has addressed the matter in the following documents:
On Certain Questions Regarding the Collaboration of the Non-Ordained Faithful
GIRM, #162
Redemptionis Sacramentum, #154-160

As to the matter of women serving as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, there is nothing in Church law that prohibits it. Whether its a man or a woman, its a non-ordained person distributing communion. There’s no theological reason why a woman would be unable to perform this extraordinary function.

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