Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Dubium on the deacon as the ordinary minister of Holy Communion, 3 November 2009, Private.


A question regarding the interpretation of number 182 of the General Instruction on the Roman Missal concerning the deacon as an ordinary minister of communion was submitted by the Congregation for the Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. The Congregation’s response follows.




His Eminence Antonio Cardinal Llovera

Prefect

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments

August 25, 2009

Dear Cardinal Llovera:

With great respect, I submit the following dubium:

In accord with General Instruction on the Roman Missal 182, “if Communion is given under both kinds, the deacon himself administers the chalice to the communicants.” Is it the intention of the Missale Romanum to forbid the practice of deacons distributing the Sacred Host when both species are distributed and when there are a number of extraordinary ministers distributing the Sacred Host?

While the tradition certainly bears witness to the deacon as the minister of the Precious Blood, that same tradition also has him distributing the Sacred Host. Indeed, in one of the oldest accounts of the Mass, Justin Martyr writes, “When he who presides has given thanks and the people have responded, those whom we call deacons give to those present the ‘eucharisted’ bread, wine and water and take them to those who are absent (Apology 1, 65-67).” The concern here is not so much whether the deacon can distribute the Sacred Host, but whether GIRM 182 prohibits him from doing so when there are extraordinary ministers distributing at the same Mass. Such a practice would seem to accord an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist a greater breath of ministry than an ordinary minister based on a very narrow interpretation of the tradition.

Thank you for your time in this matter.

In Jesus and Mary,

(Signed)

Rev. Mr. ________

________ Parish Center




The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments

Prot. N. 957/09/L

Rome

3 November 2009

Reverend and Dear Sir,

This Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments acknowledges receipt of your letter dated 25 September 2009, in which you raise a question about the interpretation of no. 182 of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romanum.

The Code of Canon Law stipulates that the “ordinary minister of Holy Communion is a bishop, priest, or deacon” (Can. 910 §1 CIC). When a deacon is present at the celebration of Holy Mass, he should exercise his ministry, which includes, among other things, assisting the priest celebrant in distributing Communion (cf. IGMR, no. 171e).

The passage noted in your letter, indicating that “if Communion is given under both kinds, the deacon himself administers the chalice to the communicants” (IGMR, no. 182), can certainly not be interpreted in the sense of prohibiting the deacon from distributing the Sacred Host when, in addition to ordinary ministers of Holy Communion, there should be a need for extraordinary ministers to distribute the Sacrament to the faithful.

With every prayerful good wish, I am

Sincerely yours in Christ,

(Signed)

Fr. Anthony Ward, S.M.

Undersecretary




Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Dubium on the deacon as the ordinary minister of Holy Communion, 3 November 2009, Private, CLSA, Roman Replies and Advisory Opinions, 2011, 28-29.