Anne-Marie Welsh

Erie Bishop Lawrence Persico celebrates Mass in the chapel of St. Mark Seminary
earlier this year. Photo/Vince Dragone

NORTHWEST PA — Now that the end of COVID-19 as a public health emergency has been declared, Erie Bishop Lawrence Persico has announced that, after consulting with the Priest Council, pastors will once again be free to decide whether or not to offer the Precious Blood in their parishes during distribution of Communion.

           The change is effective the weekend of August 5-6, the feast of the Transfiguration.

           “I announced my decision several weeks before the implementation so that pastors would have time for catechesis about the reception of the Precious Blood before it is reintroduced,” Bishop Persico said. “In light of the Eucharistic Revival, it’s an important opportunity for instruction.”

           The decision of whether or not to offer Communion under both species will be made, from August 6 forward, as it always has been, at the discretion of the pastor. Interestingly, not all countries offer Communion under both species on a regular basis.

           “If you read the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (which details the norms and rubrics for the celebration of Mass in the United States),” Bishop Persico said, “receiving Communion under both species is generally viewed as something for special occasions or particular rites, such as a first Eucharist or a wedding. But it has become the norm in the United States, so I am returning the decision to pastors.”

           Among the teachings Bishop Persico wants pastors to emphasize is that both the consecrated host and the consecrated wine, when received individually, are the complete body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ. This is called the Doctrine of Concomitance.

           “Sometimes people think that when they receive the consecrated host without the consecrated wine, they are not receiving the fullness of Communion,” Bishop Persico said. “That is not correct. If you are receiving only the Precious Blood or only the consecrated host, you are receiving the complete Christ.”

           Just as the decision of whether or not to offer the Precious Blood at Mass rests with the pastor, individuals also are free to determine whether or not they wish to receive from the cup if it is offered.

          Bishop Persico said he has not had many requests for pastors to offer Communion under both species again. He knows many people may have still have reservations about receiving from a common chalice.

          “Again, I want to emphasize that those who receive just the consecrated host are receiving the full body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ. I encourage people to prayerfully consider their own decisions and to share their thoughts with their pastors.”