A Privilege of the Ordained

Published on the Web with Permission of the Author

7. Deceitful Propaganda

In such countries as England and the U.S.A., the bishops went beyond first tolerating the abuse and then having it legalized. To cover up their own weakness they promoted the abuse as the better way of receiving Holy Communion. Some of the propaganda utilized to induce the faithful to change to the Protestant practice involved a serious manipulation of the facts, and sometimes, outright falsehood. For example, the Catholic Truth Society of England and Wales, an episcopally-approved organization, published a pamphlet which assured the faithful that the Eastern churches had preserved this practice of Communion in the hand. This is totally false. In the Orthodox Churches and the Catholic Churches of the Eastern rites, the faithful receive the Sacrament upon their tongues. The fact that this pamphlet was written by Father Anthony Boylan, Secretary of the Liturgy Commission of England and Wales, indicates the ignorance of some of those claiming to be liturgical experts. The Catholic Information Office of England and Wales published a statement claiming that the practice had been introduced only after widespread consultation among priests and laity. Nothing could be further from the truth. Few of the clergy so much as knew that the bishops had voted upon the matter until the innovation was imposed upon them as a fait accompli.

The type of propaganda used to popularize the abuse in the U.S.A. is well illustrated by a book entitled Preaching and Teaching About the Eucharist, by Msgr. Joseph M. Champlin. It is a faithful popularization of an official publication of the American Bishops entitled The Body of Christ. Msgr. Champlin explains the introduction of Communion in the hand into the U.S.A. as follows:

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.

Msgr. Champlin thus gives his readers the impression that Vatican II provided a mandate for the abuse when, in fact, it is not hinted at in any document of the Council. He also conceals the fact that what he describes so euphemistically as a desire to have "Communion in the hand restored as an option" was, in fact, an open rebellion against established tradition and ecclesiastical authority. He continues:

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.

The obvious conclusion to which Msgr. Champlin's readers would come is that the bishops had voted in favor of the innovation, and that the Pope had agreed to permit it in response to this vote. As has just been shown, the bishops voted overwhelmingly against it, and permission to legalize the practice was clearly intended to apply only to countries where it had been established by 1969.

Much of the propaganda for the abuse consists of little more than gibberish. Unfortunately, few people are critical by nature, and many are only too willing to succumb to propaganda which flatters their sense of self-esteem. Thus, in The Body of Christ, the American Bishops assure the faithful that the act of receiving Communion in the hand:

... forms a positive, human, understandable response to Jesus' invitation "take and eat" ...
reflects the giving-receiving dynamic ...
appears to many a more mature and adult gesture ...