KAMPALA — Kampala Catholic Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga has directed that no Christian or practicing Catholic will be allowed to receive the Holy Communion by hand.
He has also decreed that Holy Mass will no longer be celebrated in homes, as is the current norm, in a bid to “fend off abuses in the liturgical life of the Church”.
The directives are contained in a decree he issued on Saturday, February 1, 2020 following a high level meeting with the clergy and senior executive committees of parishes at Rubaga Cathedral in Kampala. A decree (Latin: decretum) is an order or law made by a superior authority for the direction of others.
Previously, Catholics have been receiving the Eucharist either by the palm of the hand or by mouth. But under the new decree, the priest will only be allowed to distribute the Holy Eucharist (bread) by mouth. Archbishop Lwanga said the measure is in keeping with the liturgical and canonical norms of the Church Universal under Canon Law 392: 2.
“Henceforth, it is forbidden to distribute or to receive Holy Communion In the hands. Mother Church enjoins US to hold the Most Holy Eucharist in the highest honor (Can. 898). Due to many reported instances of dishonoring the Eucharist that have been associated with reception of the Eucharist in the hands, it is lilting to return to the more reverent method of receiving the Eucharist on the tongue,” the letter reads in part.
Previously, many Christians have also been holding masses in their homes but under the new arrangement, such masses have been restricted to avoid holding them in non-sacred places.
“The celebration of the Eucharist is to be carried out in a sacred place unless grave necessity requires otherwise (Can. 932 91). Following this canonical norm, the Eucharist is henceforth to be celebrated in designated sacred places since there is an adequate number of such designated places in the Archdiocese for that purpose,” the archbishop’s letter adds.
Archbishop Lwanga also warns those who are co-habiting against receiving Holy Communion.
“Following the clear norms of Can. 915. It must be reaffirmed that those living in illicit marital co-habitation and those who persist in any grave and manifest sin., cannot be admitted to Holy Communion. Moreover, so as to avoid scandal, the Eucharist is not to be celebrated in the homes of people in such a situation,” his letter reads in part.
Priests have also been instructed to avoid allowing lay people to distribute Holy Communion during Mass.
“According to the law of the Church, the Ordinary Minister of Holy Communion is a Bishop. Presbyter or Deacon (Can. 910: 91). In light of this norm, it is forbidden for a member of the faithful who has not been designated as an extraordinary Minister of Communion (Can. 910§2) by the competent ecclesiastical authority to distribute Holy Communion. Moreover, before distributing Holy Communion, the extraordinary Minister must first receive Holy Communion from the Ordinary Minister according to the norm laid out in no.1 above,” the letter adds.
The priests have also been tasked to always dress in the permitted sacred vestments before saying Mass.
“In celebrating and administering the Eucharist, priests and deacons are to wear the sacred Vestments prescribed by the rubrics (Can. 929). Following this canonical norm, it is strictly forbidden to admit as a co-celebrant, any priest who is not properly vested in the prescribed liturgical vestments. Such a priest should neither concelebrate nor assist at the distri6ution of Holy Communion. He should also not sit in the sanctuary but rather take his seat among the faithful in the congregation. The above norms are meant to streamline the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, and curb the abuses that had begun cropping up in the celebration of the Mass. These norms are to be followed with immediate effect,” he added.