There has been some confusion in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati about when it is appropriate to have communion services in the absence of a priest. I am told Archbishop Pilarczyk restricted the practice but to date have never seen a memo or document to that effect. Archbishop Schnurr has somewhat clarified the matter, decreeing that on Sundays they be limited to “genuine emergencies” and cites the example of a priest taking ill at the last minute. For weekdays he is much more lax, and essentially ratifies the existing practice at most parishes of hosting these services when Mass isn’t said that day. “Occasions such as priests’ convocation, a priest’s vacation, a priest’s day off may give rise to such a celebration.” That’s unfortunate. The reception of Holy Communion is intrinsically linked to our participation in the sacrifice of the Mass; this connection is lost at a communion service. A much better policy was established in 2007 by Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix, who decreed that “the use of communion services during the week at places other than hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, or other such institutions is prohibited.” Bishop Olmsted then released a Q&A explanation for his change in policy (something Archbishop Schnurr does not do):

The concern in official documents about the proliferation of communion services has to do with our understanding of the Eucharist. The concern in one part is that our understanding of Eucharist so focuses on community that we are becoming Protestant. The concern on another part is that we so focus on receiving communion that we forget that the mass is about taking part in the sacrifice. We fulfill our Sunday obligation by attending mass, not by receiving communion.

Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre (NY) similarly forbad them in 2008, and in an eight-page pastoral letter announcing the policy emphasized the “inherent interconnection between sacrifice, Real Presence, and Communion.”

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