LEBANON – Anti-Covid measures loosened, Maronite Church returns to receiving communion on the tongue


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Beirut (Agenzia Fides) – While in Lebanon the spread of infections from Covid-19 seems to be weakening, emergency measures are beginning to be removed in the Maronite Church regarding the methods of administering the sacrament of the Eucharist introduced to stem the pandemic. A decree signed by Cardinal Béchara Boutros Raï, Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, established that during the divine Eucharistic liturgies the sacrament of the Eucharist can be administered again and received directly on the tongue, and “in line with our ancient tradition, and in harmony with the practice of the Eastern Churches”.

The new pastoral provisions, established at the beginning of September, on the occasion of the annual Synod of the Maronite Church, entered into force yesterday, on the occasion of the divine Eucharistic liturgies celebrated on the liturgical solemnity of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. The option of still receiving the consecrated host on the hand may still be requested “until further notice” by all those who wish to maintain a high level of precaution guaranteed by the measures adopted during the various pandemic waves.

“In both cases” the patriarchal decree remarks “the holiness of the Body and Blood of Christ is preserved”. As for the ecclesial communities of the Maronite diaspora, the methods of distribution of the Eucharist must in any case be established in accordance with the provisions of the Bishops’ Conferences of the individual local Churches. The decision of the Maronite Church to deliver the communion on the hand compulsory, taken on March 4, 2020, had aroused controversy and criticism from some ecclesial sectors. In several parishes, it was decided to leave individual freedom of choice on how to receive the Eucharist.

In recent days, Patriarch Béchara Raï took part in the International Eucharistic Congress held in Budapest and ended on Sunday September 12, with the Eucharistic celebration presided over by Pope Francis.

The Hungarian government, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, has made several donations to the Maronite Church in recent years. Lastly, last June – informs the website of the Hungarian Embassy in Beirut – more than two million dollars were donated by the Hungarian government as a contribution to the restoration of a 17th century Maronite monastery in the municipality of Aintoura, where a cultural center intended to increase initiatives to increase job opportunities especially for women and young people was also inaugurated. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 15/9/2021)