Rorate Caeli

Bishop Henry, it's not your call

The Bishop of Calgary, Alberta, has just suspended all activities of the Latin Mass communities in Calgary and Medicine Hat due to a pseudo-scientific and anti-Canonical order mandating the non-reception of the Eucharist on the tongue due to concerns related to the transmission of the Influenza A (H1N1) virus.

We had known about the matter for days, but had waited for some official words from the FSSP priests who serve those communities. However, since the entire matter has now been made public, we post the contents of the e-mail messages related to the affair. (A reader sent the e-mail exchange directly to us, but it was first made available in a web-based forum.)

Are you sick and tired of this kind of clerical abuse? Mail the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, make your protest known, wherever you may live around the world. We too are sick and tired of unwarranted episcopal tyranny, the despotism of those "liberal" or "conservative" bishops who use any excuse to persecute us: they swallow entire "Modern" elephants, yet choke on Latin mosquitoes. Or viruses...

[MESSAGE 1] From: [parvenu74]
Sent: November 30, 2009 10:09 AM
Subject: Calgary's Saint Anthony Parish: forbidden to have Mass if communion in the hand is not offered?

Dear Bishop Henry,

On the front page of your diocese's website, I see there is a letter in which you are forbidding the distribution of communion on the tongue due to H1N1 concerns. Separately, I have heard that you have forbidden the Parish of Saint Anthony's in Calgary, which is serviced by priests of the Fraternity of Saint Peter, to offer Mass using the Missal of 1962 because that Rite of Mass is incompatible with communion given in the hand.

Is this true?


[MESSAGE 2] From: Bishop F.B. Henry
Date: Mon, Nov 30, 2009 at 11:34 AM
Subject: RE: Calgary's Saint Anthony Parish: forbidden to have Mass if communion in the hand is not offered?

Dear [edited out]

The Fraternity ahs [sic] informed me that they are unable to comply with the directives in my pastoral letter re reception of communion. Therefore, the Latin Mass will be suspended until the temporary sanctions have been lifted as recommended by the Medical Officer of Health.

Peace, Bishop Henry

November 25, 2009
Rev. C. Blust, FSSP
St. Anthony’s Parish
5340 4th St. SW
Calgary, AB, T2V 0Z5

Dear Fr. Blust and My Brothers and Sisters of the Latin Mass Community of St. Anthony’s

The sacraments (and sacramentals – like holy water) are entrusted by Christ to the church which is responsible for determining through regulation the manner of their proper celebration. The bishop is the chief liturgist in the local church or diocese. In the event of a pandemic, we ought to try to reduce the possibility of transmission of a virus and protect the faithful – also the body of Christ. Our current liturgical restrictions in Calgary aim to do precisely that . This is a difficulty for some but we must remember that a Catholic spirituality is not an individual affair but communitarian from the get-go. For the love of our brothers and sisters we have mandated the sacrificing of a personal preference in the manner of Eucharistic reception for a temporary period.

Receiving communion on the tongue is not a dogma of faith. Nor is it an absolute. Since the Eucharistic Celebration is the Paschal Banquet, it is desirable that in keeping with the Lord's command, his Body and Blood should be received by the faithful who are properly disposed as spiritual food. In the Diocese of Calgary, all the faithful may receive communion on the tongue or in the hand - this also applies to the faithful who choose to celebrate the Eucharist with the Latin Mass community at St. Anthony’s, Calgary and St. Patrick’s, Medicine Hat. However, due to the current N1H1 pandemic and in accordance with recommendations received from the Medical Officer of Health, communion on the tongue is temporarily suspended.

I want to be perfectly clear: no one is to be denied the Eucharist, what is at issue is the manner of reception.

Participation in the celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice is a source and means of grace even apart from the actual reception of Holy Communion. It has also been long understood that when circumstances prevent one from receiving Holy communion during mass, it is possible to make a spiritual communion that is also a source of grace. Spiritual communion means uniting oneself in prayer with Christ’s sacrifice and worshiping him present in his Body and Blood.

Nevertheless, the current pandemic circumstances do not warrant the non-reception of the Body and Blood of the Lord in favour of a spiritual communion. [Emphasis added]

Wishing you all the best, I remain,

Sincerely yours in Christ,

+ F. B. Henry
Bishop of Calgary.

[MESSAGE 3] From:[parvenu74]
To: Bishop F.B. Henry

Your excellency,

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), on 24 July 2009, stated that it is not licit to deny reception of communion on the tongue, despite the current threat of H1N1. Attached is a scan of the CDF's letter on this matter.

Through Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,


From: Bishop F.B. Henry
Date: Mon, Nov 30, 2009 at 12:22 PM
Subject: RE: Calgary's Saint Anthony Parish: forbidden to have Mass if communion in the hand is not offered?
To: [parvenu74]

I am well aware of what the congregation decided but quite frankly, it is not their call. It is mine. [Emphasis added]