Anyone against Reception of Holy Communion by Hand, Disobeying the Church

Bishop Ezeokafor Frowns on Launching at Weddings

By Ifeoma Ezenyilimba

As some individuals still agitate against the directives of the Holy Catholic Church on the reception of Holy Communion by the hand due to the dreaded coronavirus pandemic, the Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev Paulinus Ezeokafor, has berated those against the directive, warning that they are disobeying the Church by their actions.

L-R: Chairman of the occasion, Mr Nonso Onwuchekwe; parish priest, All Saints Parish, Awgbu, Rev Fr Joseph Odiegwu; the Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev Paulinus Ezeokafor (responds to questions from the laity); Chancellor, Awka Diocese, Rev Fr Francis Chidume and Chaplain, Laity Council, Awgbu, Rev Fr Romanus Ezeisi, at the 2021 Interactive Session of CLCNAD, Awgbu, July 31, 2021.

Bishop Ezeokafor, who stated this while responding to questions from the laity at the 2021 Annual Interactive Session of the Catholic Laity Council of Nigeria, Awka Diocese (CLCNAD), held at All Saints Catholic Church, Awgbu on Saturday, July 31, insisted that reception of Holy Communion by the hand was binding on every faithful.

‘Reception of the Holy Communion by the hand is binding on all. Any faithful that is kicking against it is guilty of disobedience to the Church. Just as adherence to the law is for every citizen in the community, it is also expected of every Christian to adhere to the teachings of the Church. Anyone who is still fighting against reception of Holy Communion as directed by the Church is not a good Christian,’ the bishop stated.

The Catholic prelate noted reception of Holy Communion by the hand and in the mouth had been part of the old tradition of the Church. While agreeing to the fact that reception of the Communion by the hand had not been a usual practice in Nigeria, the bishop stressed the need for all to adhere to the directives of the Church in the wake of COVID-19.

According to him, the Holy Catholic Church adopted the style of reception of communion by the hand so as to curtail the spread of the coronavirus pandemic among the people.

Most Rev Paulinus Ezeokafor, also at the event, cautioned against turning church weddings into launchings, saying that the Church did not encourage such fund raising events at wedding masses.

Responding to a question from a participant on how a parish priest mandated a couple to collect all donations made in pledge at their wedding before they would receive the Marriage Certificate, the bishop condemned the act, describing it as wrong.

He maintained that irrespective of the fact that the Church needed money, such donations should be voluntary, and a priest was not supposed to mandate a couple to redeem pledges made by people on their wedding day before they would receive their certificate.

The bishop maintained that the stand of the diocese that launching be organized on a separate day when the need arose, and not to turn Eucharistic celebrations into fund raising events, still stood.