St James Cathedral - Seattle, WA

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Reject Bad Information About the Church!

Want to know what really pushes my ecclesial buttons? 
It's spreading misinformation and misunderstanding, specifically about the Church.

I know we get a lot of it from the media.  It was especially noticeable when Benedict XVI resigned from the papacy.  Many journalists who had never said the word papal before pronounced it wrong, as if it rhymed with "apple" instead of "maple." (Credit goes to college friend John Jansen from Generations for Life who first pointed this out.)

We get a lot of misinformation from people outside the Catholic Church, too.  The world seems to have an abundance of people who have a poor understanding of the Church, and our large number of poorly catechized Catholics isn't helping.

What I can't tolerate is people who claim to be devout, sanctimonious Catholics who share wrong information about the Church with other people.  Whether they realize it or not, what they are actually doing is pushing their own agenda or version of church instead of the real Truth.

Here's a prime example of what's got me all fired up.  There's a bogus video circulating through the internet called Pope Francis Rejects Communion in the Hand.  It's edited footage from the Holy Father's liturgies at St Peter's Basilica on April 14, 2013 and on April 21, 2013.

Here's what's so misleading about it.  The video doesn't show Pope Francis rejecting or denying Holy Communion in the hand at all!  What it shows is the Holy Father administering Holy Communion to the deacons of the Mass (on the tongue, which is the norm for ministers at the altar).  It also shows one of the priests from each Mass, instructing an individual communicant to receive the Communion on the tongue, not the hand. 

What it doesn't show you is that Pope Francis usually only distributes Holy Communion to the ministers close to him at the altar at the larger pontifical celebrations. He hasn't been giving Communion to the faithful in attendance, even on the tongue. It also doesn't show the numerous priests and deacons who assist with the distribution of Holy Communion at these liturgies, with some of them administering Holy Communion in the hand.

Besides the selective editing, there's a lot that unsuspecting viewers may not realize. Receiving Holy Communion on the tongue is the norm at the Vatican (and really in the entire Church). Reception in the hand is only permitted by decree in certain countries where the bishops have asked for it (including Italy which surrounds but does not include Vatican City). Therefore, it is perfectly acceptable for a priest at St Peter's Basilica to insist that the unknowing Mass attendee receive the Eucharist on the tongue, especially if this instruction can be done with little disruption. Of course, this instruction has nothing to do with the pope supposedly eradicating Holy Communion in the hand that the video wrongly claims.

Cardinal Bergoglio (Pope Francis) giving Communion in the hand in 2004.
The end of the video is the tell all. It's a reference to a person's blog whose personal agenda is pretty apparent. This guy wants everyone to receive Holy Communion on the tongue while kneeling, to the point where he's jumping to false conclusions about the pope and then manipulating video to push his agenda on unsuspecting Christians.  Maybe some day this guy will get his wish, but if that happens, it will come by decree of the Holy Father or the Congregation for the Discipline of the Sacraments, not by a lay person's twisted video production.

St Athanasius once wrote: "In accordance with the Apostolic Faith delivered to us through the tradition of the Fathers, I have delivered the tradition without innovation, without adding anything extraneous to it."  He's referring to doctrine, but it's fair to extend this to general information about the Church, too.  All I'm asking of my fellow Catholics is to teach what the Church teaches, not your own version of it or what you think the Church should teach.

People deserve the real deal, not some cheap imitation.  Giving them anything else doesn't serve the Church, but selfishly builds your own ego. Chicago's Fr Robert Barron said in a recent homily: "When the ego takes over, the flow of grace is blocked."  That's pretty evident in the video. 

Receiving Holy Communion on the tongue is very reverent and I recommend it.  However, I don't recommend lying and saying the pope denies Holy Communion in the hand when he doesn't. Reject this video. Pray for the one who made it.


  1. You are definitely right about everything that you said.

    I too was wondering how this person or persons could come out and say that the Pope was "refusing" communion in the hand, just by watching this video.

    I do wonder though why Pope Francis does not give communion to the people. I read somewhere why he doesn't but I can't remember what they said, and wasn't too sure if it was true.

    Do you know ?

  2. It should be noted that at St. Peter's and the other churches and basilicas that are under the direct administration of the Holy See, there is no option for receiving Holy Communion in the hand, as there is in the United States and in most of the rest of the world. In fact, reception of Holy Communion in the hand IS permitted in churches that are under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Rome (as well as the rest of Italy).


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