CONTROVERSY has blown up in the United States after a Vatican agency has unofficially expressed opposition to the practise of Catholics receiving Communion under the forms of bread and wine in United States parishes on Sundays.
For three years now, the US bishops have been trying quietly to dispel the Vatican concern and resolve the issue, but their efforts so far have failed.
The Vatican's Congregation for Sacraments and Divine Worship has said unofficially that the National Conference of
Catholic Bishops acted improperly in 1978 when it authorised US bishops to allow distribution of Communion under both kinds at certain parish Masses on Sundays and holy days.
When it learned of the Vatican opposition in 1980, the NCCB replied that it had acted strictly within its rights and in accord with the law.
After the Washington Post ran a story on the situation in July, Fr Ronald Kirkman, associate director of the US Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy, was asked for the NCCB stance on the issue.
A similar inquiry to the Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship brought no immediate reply. An official said questions would have to be directed to the congregation's adjunct secretary for divine worship, Archbishop Virglio Noe, who was not available.
Fr Kirkman said the central issue raised by the congregation is whether a bishops' conference had the authority, under existing rules, to authorize bishops within the conference to use their own discretion in giving permission for the practise of receiving Communion under both kinds at Masses on Sundays and holy days.