Saturday, May 09, 2009

A Canonist Weighs in against Crusurpation

Crusurpation: When a lay extraordinary minister of Holy Communion attempts to bestow a priestly blessing upon a child or a non-Catholic during Communion. (From A Modern Lexicon)

This is Pope Benedict giving a blessing. Pope Benedict gets to do this. The reason he gets to do this is because he is in Holy Orders. Men possessed of Holy Orders have the power to bestow blessings on behalf of the Church. There are apparently some exceptions in the Book of Blessings; but for the most part, laymen do not get to bestow blessings. This is why it makes me crazy to see extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion purporting to bestow blessings in the Communion line.

Here is something that laymen are REALLY forbidden to do: the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. In fact, it is a violation of canon law for a layman to do this. Nevertheless, I have seen an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion do it in the Communion line. On the occasion in question, a non-Catholic -- known to me as someone who has little or no love for the Church -- went up with her hands crossed over her breast. The extraordinary minister held up the Host and made the sign of the cross over her with it. Both the non-Catholic and the EMHC -- who was a vocal dissident against the primacy of Peter and the all-male priesthood -- smiled smugly at this blatantly political statement. This happened at a funeral, and directly in front of me. It is the only time I have ever seen a lay person "bless" somebody with the Host, but apparently the practice is not uncommon.

So hooray for canonist Ed Peters, who comes out strongly against the practice, of recent vintage, of crusurpation, which he forthrightly calls an abuse per se.
Lay ministers of holy Communion (by definition, extraordinary ministers thereof), in response to people approaching them without the intention to receive Communion (maybe such folks are non-Catholics [footnote omitted] or are Catholic kids prior to First Communion), currently do one of three things: they (1) speak and gesture a sign of the cross over such folks, or (2) lay hands on such persons' heads or shoulders while voicing a blessing, or (3) waive the Eucharist over them while purporting to confer a blessing. I think all three actions are liturgical abuses. [Emphasis added.]
You can get the whole story here.


  1. How insensitive of you, Anita! Don't you realize we're all Church? I mean, doesn't the Eucharistic Prayer say Jesus' blood will be shed For You And For All (well, it's supposed to be "for many," but hey, this is the Spirit of Vatican II here)?

    We can't leave anyone out; they might FEEL bad! Don't we sing "Come to the Feast" and "Come To The Table of Plenty"? You need sensitivity training, Anita!


  2. Yeah, well, at St. Auggie's it isn't enough to have just the EMHCs offer blessings at Mass, it's gotta be the whole--and I mean the ENTIRE--congregation that bestows blessings on students, mothers, fathers, etc. ad nauseum, and all usually done to the tune of the Oscar Meyer Wiener song. :(

  3. Muscovite, you mean with the Nazi salute?