The sign of peace during Mass is not a time for congratulations or small talk, but a prayerful time to wish peace to those closest to each person, clarified the bishop of Barretos in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Bishop Milton Kenan Junior issued an August 4 decree on the distribution of Communion under both species, the exchange of peace, and the norms for extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist at Mass. The bishop stated that during the exchange of peace, the faithful should avoid moving around too much. He added that it is sufficient to “greet those persons closest to you.” As for the priest celebrating the Mass, he said that “he should not leave the altar” to greet the faithful. Additionally, the prelate explained that on specific feasts or celebrations such as Easter, Christmas, a Confirmation, Marriage, Ordination, or a Funeral Mass, “the rite of peace is not a time for ‘congratulations, Merry Christmas,’ ‘Happy Easter,’ or any other type of greeting.” Concerning extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist, the bishop reminded that they do not substitute for ordained ministers, “consequently the ordained minister is not permitted to sit down during Communion time and leave the responsibility of distributing Holy Communion to the extraordinary ministers.” Regarding Communion under the species of bread and wine, the bishop declared that “the communicant is not permitted to dip the host in the chalice, nor can he receive on the hand a host that has been dipped in the chalice.” The Barretos bishop’s statement was in response to abuses occurring at Masses in the diocese. It was prepared using as a source the June 8, 2014 instruction from the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments on the meaning of the gift of peace at Mass.
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