Bishop Stika’s decision on Communion upheld by Pope Francis

Holy See supports restriction, now lifted, for receiving Eucharist on the tongue due to COVID-19

By Jim Wogan

The Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has supported Bishop Richard F. Stika’s decision last year, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, to suspend the distribution of holy Communion on the tongue at public Masses in the Diocese of Knoxville.

In a letter dated Nov. 13, the Vatican dicastery said it has “received and attentively studied” a petition making recourse against Bishop Stika’s decision to suspend Communion on the tongue.

The letter states that the Vatican has acted “to confirm the decision of Bishop Stika and thereby rejects (the) petition seeking its modification”

A separate letter was sent to Bishop Stika informing him of the decision.

Cardinal Robert Sarah, a forceful advocate for the defense of traditional Catholic teaching, is the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

“The decision to suspend the distribution of holy Communion on the tongue was difficult for me, and I understand the concern some of our clergy and laity had regarding my actions,” Bishop Stika said.

“However, we were in the early stages of this pandemic and dealing with much uncertainty. I felt I had the authority to make a conscientious decision for the safety of everyone—the laity and our clergy.”

“I am grateful to Cardinal Sarah and the Congregation for offering support and clarity of my actions,” Bishop Stika added.

The decision to suspend distribution on the tongue was part of a detailed plan to prevent the spread of COVID-19 when public Masses in the diocese resumed on Pentecost weekend, May 30-31.

In late November, the restriction of holy Communion on the tongue was lifted as part of an updated decree on safety protocols for churches, schools, and offices in the diocese

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