Rorate Caeli

Cardinal Ranjith to his clergy: communion on the tongue only and while kneeling is mandatory

Chrism Mass 2012 in the Archdiocese of Colombo.

As reported last year on Rorate the Archbishop of Colombo in Sri Lanka, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, has restored in his archdiocese the practice of communion on the tongue only and while kneeling. Last month, on the Feast of St. Joseph, he reiterated in an address to his clergy that this manner of receiving communion is mandatory for all of the faithful in his territory, even during outdoor Masses (emphasis mine):

May I also remind you once again that in all Churches and Chapels in the Archdiocese Holy Communion is to be administered only on the tongue and kneeling. This should be implemented as normal use even at Holy Mass celebrated with the participation of a big crowd outdoors. On such occasions at least the youth and the children as well as the “youthful” should be called upon to kneel and receive the Lord. This is the most appropriate way of expressing our profoundest belief in the continuous and personal presence of the Lord in the most Sacred Host as we acclaim “down in adoration falling, lo! the Sacred Host we hail”. And in all our Churches, as an expression of that faith our people should be called upon to receive the Holy Communion, kneeling. And so kindly take steps to fix the altar rails and a cushion line fixed to the ground before the railing so that all could kneel and receive easily. It is also good for us to explain to our people about the teaching of the Church on the Most Holy Eucharist as found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church Nos. 1373-1381.

The Archbishop also announced that he will personally take charge of the effort to correct liturgical abuses regarding Mass vestments in the Archdiocese of Colombo:

I would also like to insist with you on the culture of priestly vestments at Holy Mass. In a sermon Pope Benedict gave at the Chrism Mass held at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome on 5th April 2007, he explained this need in relation to what happens at Baptism where we put on Christ. St. Paul said so: “for as many of you as were baptized into Christ, have put on Christ” [Gal. 3:27]. The Pope continued: “This is what is fulfilled in Baptism; we put on Christ, He gives us His garments and these are not something external. It means that we enter into an existential communion with Him, that His being and our being merge, penetrate one another” [Priests of Jesus Christ, Family Publications, Oxford 2009 p.31]. The challenge to let Christ live in us is indicated by this putting on of Christ – “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” [Gal. 2:20]. The Priest is one who is called upon to live that intimate spirit of communion with Christ even more intensely, especially when he celebrates the Eucharist. It is the highest point of our communion with Him, when we become totally identified with Him in His salvific sacrifice on Calvary. States the Pope “at the moment of priestly ordination, the Church has also made this reality of “new clothes” visible and comprehensive to us externally through being clothed in Liturgical vestments……the “putting on of Him” is demonstrated again and again at every Holy Mass by putting on the Liturgical vestments……the fact that we are standing at the altar clad in Liturgical vestments must make it clearly visible to those present that we are there ‘in the person of Christ’ ”[ibid p.32]. Indeed we ought to recall how Jesus explaining the parable of the wedding feast stressed on the need to be attired in a proper garment. He who was not thus dressed was ordered to be thrown with hand and feet tied into the dark where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. [cfr. Mt. 22:13]. The Vatican Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum of 2004 states on the matter: “the vestments proper to the priest celebrant at Mass, and in other sacred actions directly connected with the Mass, unless otherwise indicated, is the Chasuble, worn over the alb and stole” [123] and then it states “the abuse is reprobated whereby the sacred ministers celebrate Holy Mass or other rites without sacred vestments or with only a stole over the monastic cowl or the common habit of religious or ordinary clothes” [126]. The same document states that the “ordinaries should take care that in all Churches and oratories subject to their jurisdiction there is present an adequate supply of Liturgical vestments made in accordance with the norms” [ibid]. And so dear fathers, kindly ensure that in each Church in your parishes there is an adequate supply of a sufficient number of amices, girdles, stoles and chasubles for daily use. When I come for my parish visits starting from January next year, I will check on this matter personally. Kindly begin celebrating your daily sacrifice of the Eucharist properly clad and that means dressed with the alb, with or without the amice, the girdle, stole and chasuble. This should start immediately. The Auxiliary Bishops and Episcopal Vicars should kindly ensure that this is strictly followed in your areas.

His sharp remarks regarding abortion should be noted as well.


  1. What a Pope he would make...

  2. WTG, Your Excellency Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Singh!

  3. Francis3:18 PM

    poeta, I was thinking the same thing. In the meantime he would be a great replacement for Levada at the CDF.

  4. Andrew3:27 PM

    This is wonderful. Clear instructions. Not ones that are issued with a million exceptions so as to make the order useless. We need clear and concise direction from our bishops. NOT muddled and contradicting statements and suggestions from a myriad of committees and subcommitees. bishops and LEAD!

  5. This is totally great news for people of Columbo. Yes, he certainly would seem "papabile" as it said. He is electable. Perhaps this is why the Holy Father made him a Cardinal. Up until Benedict, the See of Columbo was not cardinalatial See, only an archbishopric and so never had a Cardinal.

    Oh, BTW, the good Cardinal's full name is Albert Malcom Ranjith Padabindege Don.


  6. I can't think of another single (non-SSPX, non-Campos) bishop who has instituted such a requirement. Quite remarkable. And heartening.

  7. Matt:

    It is customary to call him "Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith", as this is how he himself signs his name.

    Colombo had a cardinal before: Thomas Cardinal Cooray, a member of the Coetus Internationalis Patrum.

  8. If he was to be elected Pope, would he be the first Pope from India or Asia for that matter?

  9. Cardinal Ranjith's move to Sri Lanka was probably a case of "promoveatur ut moveatur." He may be a cardinal now, but whereas before as secretary of the CDW he was able to influence the global Church, now his influence is restricted to one diocese in a third world country where Catholics are only 7% of the population.

  10. Does anyone know if Cardinal Ranjith has ever offered TLM?

  11. NIANTIC4:44 PM

    What a sharp contrast to Cardinals Wuerl and Schoenborn and other usual suspects.
    Thank you Cardinal Ranjith for restoring Tradition to your Archdiocese.
    May this same order and restoration be issued from the Vatican without any delay for the entire Church! For the honor of God and the salvation of souls.

  12. Catholicus4:52 PM


    Juan Luis Cardinal Cipriani Thorne has forbidden communion in the hand in his archdiocese, and requires that communion be received kneeling in his cathedral.

  13. MK:

    In public? Once, when he ordained deacons for the FSSP in 2008.

  14. Anonymous5:28 PM

    Giovanni A. Cattaneo said...
    If he was to be elected Pope, would he be the first Pope from India or Asia for that matter?

    If you consider the world to be divided by the traditional division of seven continents, he wouldn't be the first pope from Asia. The Middle East is part of Asia, and there have been several popes from the Middle East.

    - DJR

  15. Seraph6:00 PM

    Cardinal Ranjith was run out of Rome by the Modernists. His consolation prize for going back to Sri Lanka was being made cardinal by Pope Benedict. He was one of the only few supporters of the Holy Father in the Vatican. He would have been a great prefect of the CDW.

    He is my number one choice to succeed Benedict. Many people in this country are hign on Burke, but Ranjith is well above and beyond Burke as a better choice.

  16. Deo Gratias...can we get an American Bishop to do the same...doubt it.

  17. Hello Catholicus,

    I knew about Cipriani Thorne, but I was under the impression that it hadn't been made mandatory for both.

    Well, even if that's true, that makes two dioceses out of 2,795.

  18. God bless His Eminence! I do have one issue, which does not apply strictly to His Eminence, this is the use of the amice. Enough with the amice being optional! It's so ridiculous to see priests in vestments and have their collars sticking out. Besides having a beautiful symbolism, the amice has a practical use as well.

  19. Athelstane All Dioceses in Kazakastan as well have only kneeling and on the Tongue as well.

  20. Seraph:

    It probably didn't help that he endorsed Msgr. Gherardini's book, Ecumenical Vatican Council II, a Much Needed Discussion

  21. "And they cried one to another, and said: Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God of hosts, all the earth is full of His glory."
    --Isaiah 6:3

    PS Xavier University just issued a statement indicating they will no longer provide contraception.

    Signs of the Risen Christ. Alleluia!

  22. P.K.T.P.8:15 PM

    And yet there is not one T.L.M. offered publicly (or even privately, apparently) in all of Ceylon, not even in Ranjith's own Archdiocese. How long has it been since he was returned to Ceylon? Years now.


  23. Sri Lankistmeister8:58 PM

    Given the options we now have, he would be an ideal choice for our next pope.

    But, alas, PKTP does raise a good - and dismaying - point.

  24. Ora et Labora9:17 PM

    Well done Cardinal Ranjith, I only pray you stay firm in your desired to correct the liturgical abuses at least in your Archdiocese.

    Remember that many souls are under your care and you just like your brother bishops will have to give an account for each and everyone of those souls to the KING OF KINGS.

  25. Clinton R.11:13 PM

    Oh, that Cardinal Ranjith would become the next pope. In the meanwhile, I pray that Our Lord blesses him and that He may bless the Church Militant with priests that are filled with the Holy Spirit and the zeal of the Apostles. +JMJ+

  26. Lynda1:44 AM

    It would be great if Sri Lanka and Ireland were to set up a Bishop Exchange Programme . . . ! No mealy-mouthed nuance there! No frustration and desperation for the faithful of Columbo! I bet the faithful there know they are respected and supported and lead in their faith. He is a great example for his fellow Bishops.

  27. The fact that Cardinal Ranjith has yet to offer at TLM in his diocese...The content of this letter should give you an idea of what he's dealing with...1st things first, getting the priests in line with the rubrics of Holy Mother Church...then get the TLM going.

  28. Filipino Catholic3:55 AM

    The Diocese of Talibon in the island of Bohol in the Philippines does not practice communion in the hand either. On the other hand (no pun there!) the bishop who instituted that rule is also hostile to Latin.

  29. Oliver3:29 PM

    The exception that proves the rule. The Western hierarchy, where the power in the conciliar church resides, is likely to dismiss this as an old practice in a backward country.

  30. Seraph is oh-so-right concerning the relative mettle of Cardinal Ranjith Padabindege Don wrt that of a certain American Cardinal often given to behind-the-scenes rug-pulling.....

    I cannot help but wonder whether the resolute plain-speaking of this Sri Lankan is what earned him his ticket home.

  31. What is Cardinal Ranjith's record of social justice ministry? what has he done to help the Tamils (Non tiger group) gain equal standing?
    Secondly, why is he opposed to the deacon program in his country. I see pope uses deacon at his mass, but Ranjith does not allow deaconate program in his country.

  32. This is what we have been waiting for! a return to reverence and a chance to recollect prior to receiving Our Lord. This is wonderful !

  33. All hail this Archbishop! Orthodox and True to the Catholic Faith!

  34. vince9:28 AM

    Makes me wish i lived in his archdiocese. courage amongst the cardinals seems to be in short supply these days. cardinal Ranjith is a much needed shepherd who will bring a renewed hope and spirit to all of India. I pray that he will encourage other cardinals to follow his example.

  35. Michael Prabhu2:35 AM

    Vince, I too, like you, wholeheartedly wish I lived in Sri Lanka under his ecclesial jurisdiction. May God the Holy Spirit hear my ardent prayer, "please, please let him be our next Pope."
    Michael Prabhu
    Catholic apologist

  36. Riccardo4:19 AM

    " How about working on MODESTY, and the wearing of modest clothes at Mass.Receiving Him properly clothed is a bigger issue to me, than whether He is received in the Hand or on the tongue. I have received both ways, and it is still up to the Communicant's 'decision'on the way to receive in both manners. So I have understood it. That has not changed.So how can a Bishop change the rules.

  37. Riccardo, receiving Communion on the tongue is the universal law of the Church. Receiving Communion in the hand is possible only by an indult from the Holy See. However, just because the Holy Father grants a province or a nation an indult allowing bishops in that area to introduce Communion in the hand, that does not mean any or all of those bishops must avail themselves of that indult. At any time, a bishop may elect not to take advantage of the indult, and thus place his diocese under the universal law requiring Communion on the tongue. That is what Cardinal Ranjith has done -- and it's what every Latin bishop should do. Better yet, the Holy Father should simply cancel all indults for Communion in the hand and restore the traditional discipline for reception of Holy Communion. There was never any need for this indult, and in fact there's a need to not have this indult.

  38. Rpg3 said...
    God bless His Eminence! I do have one issue, which does not apply strictly to His Eminence, this is the use of the amice. Enough with the amice being optional! It's so ridiculous to see priests in vestments and have their collars sticking out. Besides having a beautiful symbolism, the amice has a practical use as well.

    Actually, the amice is only "optional" when the alb properly covers the priest's Roman collar. When it does not, the amice should be worn. This is in the General Instruction to the Roman Missal, and is repeated in the very clear disciplinary document, Redemptionis Sacramentum. That is why, as a priest, I always wear the amice. As I say to its detractors: "The amice is your friend" (pun intended!)

    Here is the reference to Redemptionis Sacramentum:

    [122.] “The alb” is “to be tied at the waist with a cincture unless it is made so as to fit even without a cincture. Before the alb is put on, if it does not completely cover the ordinary clothing at the neck, an amice should be put on”.

  39. It saddened me that when my 8 year old daughter received her 'First Holy Communion'this year her entire class of 100 recipients were advised to receive the Body Of Christ on their hand. The Father explained it was an old fashion tradition that our hands are the crown of God ( something like that ) and also to stop the kids germs spreading onto the priest and so on.
    How sad it was for me as I felt the traditional way was much more humble and respectable for an innocent child to receive the Eucharist for the first time. Now I always tell my daughter to receive it on her tongue.

  40. Stuart Reiss1:37 PM

    I am a Sri Lankan and very proud to hear some of the comments written about my countryman Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith. He will no doubt make an excellent Pope.

    Sadly, in my own church in Kandy dioces, the local priest ( a Redemptorist ) refuses to use the new English translation of the novus ordo. And I hear that there are many other places that do not comply including the National Seminary of Ampitiya. I have written to my local Bishop, and to the Redemptorist provincial in Colombo, but the Mass continues to be in the old novus ordo.


  41. I am from the land of pearls,tuticorin.. It is gud to see such a youthful yet orthodox cardinal from pattangatti family of karaiyars.. I have personally seen priest wearing violet distributing host on normal days which is an insult to god in eucharist...even bishops in tamilnadu should follow this.. Yet recieving jesus in tongue while kneeling in outdoor masses is not my cup of tea, there hav been popes and saints who have given rules for recieving communion in hand, it is upto the faithful to recieve in tongue or hand.. Kneeling in outdoor is something that is not necessary.. God see not on our outer shoewoff but the devotion in our heart.if we recieve god on hand standing with devotion,he would be more happy to come in us rather than kneeling halfheartedly... The older rules were modified in vatican 2, which has given liberty to various rites in church....

  42. Anonymous7:13 PM

    Just to clarify, the misconception that rev. Cardinal Ranjith is from India - he is not. He is from Sri Lanka which is not a part of India. Nevertheless a great sheperd for the entire region of Asia.


    Is time to get serious with PRAYER & PENANCE also (if you can or so will)- offered to the Father, and heed the words left by Fr. John Hardon that God will bless all efforts to 'STOP - Communion in the Hand'.

    Also please see -Communion Railing Restoration - on blog:

    Thanks! David


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