May an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion give blessings during the Communion procession?

There has been much discussion among liturgists, theologians and canonists about interrupting the Communion procession to give blessings to children, non- Catholics, and even Catholics not prepared to receive Holy Communion. In a private letter from the Congregation for Divine Worship, November 2008 the following observations were given:

  • “this matter is presently under the attentive study of the Congregation” so “ for the present, this Dicastery wishes to limit itself to the following observations”
  • The liturgical blessing of the Holy Mass is properly given to each and to all at the conclusion of the Mass
  • Lay people, within the context of the Holy Mass, are unable to confer blessings
  • these blessings are the competence of the priest
  • Laying on of hands is to be explicitly discouraged since this gesture has its own sacramental significance which is inappropriate during the Communion procession
  • The Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio #84 “forbids any pastor, for whatever reason or pretext even of a pastoral nature, to perform ceremonies of any kind for divorced people who remarry”. To be feared is that any form of blessing in substitution for communion would give the impression that the divorced and remarried have been returned, in some sense, to the status of Catholics in good standing.
  • the Church’s discipline has already made clear those non-Catholics and those under the penalty of excommunication or interdict, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin should not approach Holy Communion nor receive a blessing.