CDW, Concerning Eligibility to be an Extraordinary Minister of the Holy Communion, 15 January 1990. Private.

A diocese in the United States received a letter written on January 15, 1990 from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, regarding a member of the association “Dignity” who, according to the letter, was functioning as an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist in a parish. Following is the text of the letter which was received by the bishop of this particular diocese [English original]:

A member of your Diocese, Evangelista, has written to the Holy See lamenting that Caius is permitted to serve in the capacity of Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist. She included a letter (copy enclosed) which illustrates that Caius was an officer in the association “Dignity” as recently as March of 1988.

Since 12 May 1989, letters were exchanged between her and the Apostolic Nunciature of the United States of America. In her letter of 20 November 1989 (copy enclosed), Evangelista claims that Mr. Caius continues to function in this capacity in the Diocese of Corinth.

To this point we would like to note that, to function as an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist is not a right of the baptized, but an invitation by the bishop to serve the needs of the ecclesial community when ordinary ministers are not present.

We do not consider it pastorally prudent at present, nor according to the spirit of the law (cc. 230, §3 and 910, §2) to retain Mr. Caius in

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this public role within the Liturgy. Even if he has actually terminated all association with “Dignity,” the possibility of giving scandal remains, particularly because of the public nature of his participation as an officer of that association.

I ask that you kindly find the way, assisted by the local pastor, to remedy this situation with charity. Hopefully, inviting Mr. Caius to withdraw from this public function in the Liturgy of his own accord will suffice and it will not be necessary to insist that he not be permitted to continue in this role. If such appointments are made for a limited time, this would greatly facilitate the solution of similar cases.

Would you please let us know the outcome of the matter?

It was reported by the diocese that the bishop’s response to the Congregation informed them thus: “As you have suggested, I have discussed this matter with the local pastor [and have] endeavored to find a remedy to this situation with charity. He is no longer listed among those who serve as extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist.”

CDW, 15 January 1990, Eligibility to be an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, RRAO (1991): 15-16.