This most important point was raised by Bishop Blanchette of Joliet, Ill. When the National Conference of Catholic Bishops debated the question in 1977, Bishop Blanchette pointed out that the procedure approved by the Vatican was that permission could be requested from the Holy See if the contrary usage prevailed. He pointed out that the Bishops could hardly take the second step without taking the first.
"I said, we are now going to discuss and probably vote on whether we want to petition the Holy See, and we have not established that a contrary usage prevails. I said a simple way to do that would be to ask the Ordinaries to indicate whether in their dioceses the contrary usage prevails. The Ordinary should know, he is the shepherd of the diocese. He has been asked to obey and his priests have been asked to obey, so if anybody knows whether the contrary usage prevails, he should. And so I asked that the agenda be amended so that the first step-----finding out whether the contrary usage prevails-----could be verified, and if it were verified then we could get on with the rest of the agenda. But if the first step is not verified, how can we logically go on to the second step? That was my motion". 27
Bishop Blanchette's motion was supported in writing by five other bishops and sustained by the president of the conference. According to the rules, there should have been a written vote, but supporters of the innovation objected and voted, on a show of hands, to rule the president out of order. Even Cardinal Krol later condemned the use of a parliamentary device to get rid of a valid motion on a crucially important topic. 28 It therefore seems quite reasonable to ask: just how legal this vote was? Then, of course, other extraordinary measures were taken to get the innovation adopted. Retired bishops were prevented from voting, and, when the necessary majority had still not been achieved, bishops who had not been present were polled until the necessary total was arrived at. Those who criticize the innovation are attacked for making a fuss about a 'trivial' matter. Well, if the matter is so trivial, the steps taken to force the innovation through are certainly extraordinary.
It is quite certain that the contrary usage prevailed in England and Wales only to the most limited extent. It is unlikely that there were more than a few dozen parishes or centres in the entire country where the practice had been established.
There was certainly no interest in and no desire for the practice among the mass of the Catholic population. However, the English have their own way of doing things. No one knew that the bishops had even discussed the matter, let alone applied for an Indult. It was all done in conditions of the greatest secrecy and even the production of the propaganda material was an undercover operation.
Priests and people were then presented with a fait accompli, Catholic papers dutifully filled their pages with propaganda and bookshops and various official centres put all their secretly-produced material on display. To add insult to injury, the Catholic Information Office then stated that there had been widespread consultation among priests and laity! 29 This even provoked an adverse comment in the Summer 1976 issue of Music and Liturgy, the mouthpiece of some of Britain's most extreme proponents of liturgical innovation. While predictably enthusiastic about Communion in the hand, an editorial stated:
The worst of these errors of fact was the claim that the Eastern Churches have preserved the practice of Holy Communion in the hand. This is complete nonsense, as the practice in the Eastern Churches, Uniate and Orthodox, is for the laity to receive Communion under both kinds placed on the tongue by a priest using a spoon. At the end of the Orthodox Liturgy blessed bread is sometimes distributed to the congregation. This has not been consecrated and is received in the hand. It may be the reason why some non-Orthodox imagine that Communion is given in the hand. The fact that this pamphlet was written by Fr. Anthony Boylan, General Secretary of the Liturgy Commission of England and Wales, is an only too typical example of the crass ignorance of so many of those styling themselves as liturgical experts.
I wrote to a number of influential prelates regarding the false statements made in the C.T.S. pamphlet, including the Apostolic Delegate. A reply from his secretary agreed with me that the statement was incorrect, to be regretted, and that the pamphlet should be withdrawn. This was in August 1976-----the same pamphlet with the same falsehood is on sale today!
The manner in which the Protestant
of Communion in the hand has been introduced in Britain and the U.S.A.
certainly illustrates a point made at the beginning of this study: "The
particular significance of the imposition of Communion in the hand is
it is the epitomization of the 'spirit of Vatican II', the spirit which
pervades the 'Conciliar Church', to which Archbishop Lefebvre has been
ordered to submit.' 30 Indeed, the more
studies the squalid duplicity which has marked every stage of the
of this Protestant practice, the greater the admiration one must have
the courage, the honesty, and the orthodoxy of this saintly prelate!
29) The Tablet, May 22, 1976, p. 507.
30) This phrase was used in a letter from Archbishop (now Cardinal) Benelli to Mgr. Lefebvre dated June 25, 1975. Mgr. Benelli demanded not true fidelity to the Catholic but to the Conciliar Church ("la fidelite veritable a l'Eglise conciliare"). The full text of this letter appeared in Itineraires, No. 206, September 1976.