An Abuse Fostered by Disobedience and Deceit  

 Communion in the hand was re-introduced into the Catholic Church as an act of rebellion soon after Vatican II. It began in Holland as an arbitrary act of defiance of legitimate authority. Mandatory liturgical norms were defied and Communion was distributed in some Catholic churches in what had been, since the Reformation, the characteristically Protestant manner. It was an abuse and should have been dealt with by the bishops immediately and effectively. Priests who refused to conform to the law of the Church should have been suspended. Such action was not taken, and the practice spread to Germany, Belgium, and France. In these countries the Bishops also betrayed their office and allowed the abuse to go unchecked. Thus a practice which had already been made unacceptable to Catholics because of its adoption by Protestants to symbolize their rejection of Catholic Eucharistic teaching, was made doubly unacceptable when it became a symbol of the rejection of ecclesiastical authority by Liberal clerics.

     The consequences of this rebellion became so serious that the Pope consulted the Bishops of the world, and, after obtaining their opinions, promulgated the Instruction Memoriale Domini, in 1969. This Instruction is included [click link above or refer to contents page of this section (back button below)] and will be referred to from time to time. The principal points contained in it are:

     1. The Bishops of the world were overwhelmingly against the innovation.

     2. The traditional manner of distributing Holy Communion must be retained.

     3. It is a sign of reverence which does not detract from the dignity of the communicant.

     4. The innovation could lead to irreverence, profanation, and the adulteration of correct doctrine.


     "The Apostolic See strongly urges bishops, priests, people to observe this law, valid and again confirmed, according to the judgment of the majority of the Catholic episcopate, in the form which the present rite of the sacred liturgy employs, and out of concern for the common good of the Church."

     However, a calamitous error of judgment then followed. It was agreed that wherever the practice "has already developed in any place" a two-thirds majority of the episcopal conference could petition the Holy See for permission to legalize the abuse. Quite clearly, the phrase "has already developed" meant by that date, May 28, 1969. Countries where the practice had not developed by that date were obviously excluded from the concession-----and all the English-speaking countries come into this category. Liberal priests in certain countries had found that if they broke the law then the Holy See would amend the law to conform with their disobedience. Liberals in other countries presumed that, if they followed suit, the Vatican would continue to surrender. Their judgment was correct, and not simply as regards Communion in the hand. However, there was one important difference in the situation before and after Memoriale Domini. The Bishops who, since May 1969, first tolerated, then approved, and are now trying to impose the abuse, are acting in explicit defiance of the clear wishes of the Holy Father-----and yet these same men have the hypocrisy to cite loyalty to the Pope as an excuse for refusing permission for the celebration of the Mass of St. Pius V! In fact, a clear and consistent criterion has been applied by the bishops in respecting the wishes of the Pope: where his wishes are ignored in order to destroy the Faith, this is acceptable; where his wishes are ignored in order to defend the Faith, this is unacceptable.
Communion in the hand was thus born in disobedience and the bishops are now fostering it by deceit. The principal instrument for deceiving the American faithful is the booklet, The Body of Christ, published by the American Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy. There is a popular saying that those whom the people cease to respect they cease to obey. Any bishop who fails to publicly repudiate this shameful propaganda tract merits neither respect nor obedience. Such bishops merit the appellation of hirelings rather than shepherds. Strong words? Perhaps, but easily justified.

       A booklet entitled Preaching and Teaching About the Eucharist has been written by one Joseph M. Champlin [presumably a cleric, although he doesn't bother to say so]. It is published by the Ave Maria Press and contains potted sermons intended to popularize the deceptions in The Body of Christ at the parish level. This is how Joseph M. Champlin recommends the parish clergy to explain the revival of Communion in the hand to their congregations [p. 15]:

          "Around the time of the Second Vatican Council, some Catholics, following the liturgical principles approved by the bishops, sought to have the ancient practice of communion in the hand restored as an option. As these desires intensified, Pope Paul surveyed bishops throughout the world about the desirability of reintroducing this as an alternative to communion given directly on the tongue. In response to their views, our Holy Father decreed that the present method would be retained, but that bishops in a particular country might vote to introduce communion in the hand as an option. Within a few years' time, the bishops of 54 countries have voted in this fashion, with our bishops the most recent hierarchy to do so."
    This is propaganda in the direct tradition of the Third Reich. Joseph Goebbels could not have improved upon it. Note that there are no direct lies. Joseph M. Champlin wishes congregations to be told that some Catholics sought to have the ancient practice restored -----he omits to add that they took the matter into their own hands without waiting for permission. The Pope did, indeed, "survey" bishops throughout the world, but Joseph M. Champlin deems it unnecessary for congregations to be told that the bishops voted overwhelmingly against the innovation. Is it conceivable that the ordinary Catholic, without any background information, could react in any other way but to conclude that the bishops had approved it? Memoriale Domini did, indeed, concede that bishops in a particular country might vote to legalize the abuse [they could hardly "introduce communion in the hand" as it could only be legalized where it was already established illegally]-----but Joseph M. Champlin does not think it would be helpful to let congregations know that this concession applied to countries where the abuse had been established by May 1969. He also deemed it prudent not to have them informed that the Holy Father had strongly urged bishops, priests and laity to observe the traditional practice and had warned of the dangers to which the innovation could lead. The nearest Joseph M. Champlin comes to outright untruth is by stating that the rebels who initiated the abuse were "following the liturgical principles approved by the bishops" during "the Second Vatican Council". Once again, the layman with no background information will therefore conclude that even if not directly mandated by Vatican II, Communion in the hand is the type of reform for which the bishops voted. There is not one word anywhere in the Liturgy Constitution of Vatican II which hints at this or at any similar innovation. The Council Fathers would, for the most part, have been horrified at the thought. Just how far they were from approving it is proved by the large majority of bishops voting AGAINST it as late as 1969. However, in making this allegation, Joseph M. Champlin is adding his testimony to the accuracy of Chapter XVI of my book, Pope John's Council, in which I show that the seeds of all the post-conciliar abuses are contained in the Constitution itself; they are the cunningly contrived ambiguities set to explode after the Council, the "time bombs" introduced by the 'experts' who drew up the documents for which the [mostly naive] bishops voted.

 At this moment some readers might object that, perhaps, in popularizing The Body of Christ, Joseph M. Champlin has misrepresented the case as presented in this booklet, which carries the authority of the bishops. On the contrary, Joseph M. Champlin has popularized their text with complete accuracy. At the risk of being repetitive, the parallel passage will be quoted in full, and for a very good reason. The object of this study is to prove to Catholics that they have been deliberately deceived. It would take several volumes to analyze every example in The Body of Christ and similar tracts. But if it is accepted that deceit has been proved conclusively in even one instance, then those readers who have not been completely brainwashed may be able to begin the painful process of overcoming their conditioning.

       This is what is stated in The Body of Christ, on pages 15 and 16. [Note that even Joseph M. Champlin's linking of the abuse with the Constitution on the Liturgy is paralleled here.]

"As we mentioned above, after the Constitution on the Liturgy was published, there was a return to the ancient practice of communion in the hand in some countries. When the custom had gained ground bishops and conferences of bishops looked to the Holy See for directives.

"The Holy Father put the Consilium for liturgical reforms in charge of the matter. On October 28, 1968, it sent a circular letter to the presidents of the conferences of bishops throughout the world asking them to make known the thought of the individual bishops of their own country on this important subject.

"After setting forth the pros and cons, the circular asked that after a careful examination with the conference, a secret vote should be taken on three questions: 
1. If it should be permitted, during communion, to
    receive the host in the hand, in addition to the traditional way.
           2. If it were considered opportune that, in the judgment of the bishop, experiments should first be carried out in small communities.
          3. If it were considered that the faithful, after a careful catechetical preparation, would receive the rite well.

"The Consilium study was the source for the Instruction Memoriale Domini, of May 29, 1969, and of the response which was to grant the faculty to the conferences that applied."

       Having taken note of the methods adopted in The Body of Christ, it is far from unlikely that Catholics who cite Memoriale Domini to their parish priests or bishops will be told that the Holy Father has changed his mind and now approves of the practice. On the contrary, a clear directive was given in the official publication for the Roman Clergy as recently as 1977 that the abuse of Communion in the hand is strictly forbidden in Rome and throughout Italy.