Cardinal Sarah: Receiving Communion in the hand part of a “diabolical attack” on the faith

cardinal sarah

Cardinal Sarah, the Vatican’s most senior liturgy official who has in the past been reprimanded by Pope Francis for his views on liturgy, is raising eyebrows again after expressing his opposition to the widely accepted practice of receiving Communion in the hand.

In an introduction to a new book about Communion practices, the cardinal writes, “We can understand how the most insidious diabolical attack consists in trying to extinguish faith in the Eucharist, sowing errors and favoring an unsuitable manner of receiving it,” according to a translation published by PrayTellBlog.

“Truly the war between Michael and his Angels on one side, and Lucifer on the other, continues in the heart of the faithful: Satan’s target is the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Real Presence of Jesus in the consecrated host.”

Cardinal Sarah questions why Catholics stand—rather than kneel—and receive Communion in the hand and asks, “Why this attitude of lack of submission to the signs of God?”

The Vatican allows the faithful to receive Communion in the hand in nations around the world and the practice has become nearly universal in many countries, including in the United States.

Timothy Johnston, a former diocesan liturgy director who now writes for the Chicago-based Liturgy Training Publications, told America that “to equate standing and receiving in the hand to Satan is irresponsible and continues to polarize the Christian community.”

“However one chooses to receive holy Communion, it must be done with great reverence. Such reverence is something which we can all agree to seek more fully, no matter our posture,” he said, adding that the cardinal’s words “deny a valid practice inherited from the early church.”

John F. Baldovin, S.J., a professor of historical and liturgical theology at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, said in an email to America that Cardinal Sarah’s remarks “betray a fundamental disagreement with a theology and piety of the Eucharist that understand the act of Communion as an act of a loving Savior who wishes to make us a part of his body—both in receiving the sacrament itself and in becoming more a part of his body which is the church.” Continue reading

  • Michael J. O’Loughlin is the national correspondent for America.
Additional reading

News category: Analysis and Comment.

Tags: , ,