Blessings at communion

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q:  Are the extraordinary ministers being taught in their training to give blessings (sign of the cross on the forehead) during distribution of Communion? I have seen this in the diocese.


A: The Catholic Church gives no instructions on what any minister – clergy or lay – should do for non-communicants who present themselves in the communion line. I tell them that we have no diocesan policy because there is no national policy and no universal policy.

I share with them that my solution is to trace the sign of the cross on the forehead of the non-communicant while saying nothing. (I use the thumb of the hand I’m not using to distribute communion.) Parents and godparents make that gesture in the baptismal ceremony, so it is within the repertoire of actions that lay people may perform during a mass.

Lay persons may not use their entire hand to impart a blessing in the manner of a deacon or a priest – during communion or at any other time. I ask the ministers to check with their pastors and to follow the local procedures.