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The Eucharist seemed to have been "desecrated" with lay people passing it on "like a beach ball at a concert" during the large papal Masses here last week, a US-based online magazine on "Catholic news, commentary, and information" said.
In his entry on Monday, Steve Skojec, founding publisher of online magazine OnePeterFive, said a video from the concluding Mass at Luneta seemed that the Eucharist was being "handed back like common food."
"Some may have gone so far as to describe what you are seeing here as a 'desecration' of the Eucharist. While I doubt this is intentional, I find it hard to dispute that description," he said. "Whatever the case, I can't see a way any Catholic who believes in the Real Presence would find this appropriate."
This move was witnessed at the Luneta Mass, which reportedly drew six million people, as well as outside the Manila Cathedral, where both religious and lay people waited outside as Pope Francis officiated a Latin Mass exclusive for selected bishops, priests, and religious men and women.
Held back by concrete or steel barriers for security and logistic reasons, quadrants were packed during these events, and did not allow room for communion distributors and ushers to get inside.
Officials said 20 communion stations would be set up around Luneta for the Mass, with 5,000 communion distributors and 5,000 ushers.
Filipino Catholic Church officials came in defense of this, saying the Masses, particularly at Luneta, were "extraordinary" circumstances.
In an interview with GMA News, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said: "Under normal circumstances, hindi dapat mangyari 'yon, pero extraordinary ang situation natin sa Luneta, six million people."
He added: "Sa ganu'ng pagkakataon, kailangan nating tulungan ang isa't isa na makatanggap ng communion."
For his part, Fr. Francis Lucas, executive secretary of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Social Communication and Mass Media, echoed this, telling GMA News Online: "For pastoral reasons since people can't move during communion, mass passing of the host is okay."
'Don't distribute at all'
In his entry, Skojec, said that if large papal Masses "are deemed a necessary witness of the faith, then perhaps if communion can't be distributed in an appropriate fashion, it should not be distributed to the entire gathering."
"We do not need to receive communion at every Mass we attend. In fact, if we are not properly disposed, we should not receive, even if we are in a state of grace. Personally, I find the idea of seeing my Lord handled like a beach ball at a concert more sufficient to cloud any sense of proper disposition," he said.
According to EWTN Global Catholic Network, one is "obliged" to receive Holy Communion "during Easter time each year and when in danger of death." — Rose-An Jessica Dioquino/RSJ, GMA News