WASHINGTON (April 12, 2002) -- Newly revised norms for the distribution and reception of Holy Communion under the outward signs of both bread and wine by Catholics in the United States have been authorized by the Vatican and decreed by the President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The new norms, published by Bishop Wilton D. Gregory of Belleville (IL) last month, were approved by the members of the USCCB on June 15, 2001, and confirmed by the Holy See on March 22, 2002.
The General Instruction of the recently revised Roman Missal permits conferences of Bishops to provide norms for the distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds, meaning under the outward signs of both bread and wine. The newly approved norms replace the U.S. bishops' 1984 directory on the matters titled, This Holy and Living Sacrifice.
The first section of the new norms provides a theological summary of the Church's teaching on Holy Communion under both kinds, while the following section describes the authorized procedures by which such distribution can be accomplished at Mass. Specific directives are given regarding liturgical roles, sacred vessels and the rites to be followed in distributing Holy Communion under both kinds.
Included among the norms is an indult from the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments providing for the cleansing of sacred vessels by
Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. The indult was promulgated as "particular law" for the dioceses of the United States at the same times as the norms and it became effective on April 7, 2002. The Congregation declined, however, to approve an indult authorizing extraordinary ministers to assist with the distribution of the Precious Blood to other chalices during the singing of the Lamb of God.
In the letter confirming the norms for distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments also made clear that Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, or indeed any communicant, might assist in the consumption of what remains of the Precious Blood after distribution of Holy Communion has been completed.