The heartbreaking footnote to this otherwise euphoric papal visit is at least one instance of losing refinement and respect to Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. Sadder still, because it was instigated (or at least tolerated) by some Communion ministers.
Outside the Manila Cathedral, during Holy Communion of the Holy Father’s Mass with the clergy and the religious, at least two extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion (a nun and a monk?) pushed into the crowd to distribute the Consecrated Host. While not entirely proper, this should be tolerable. But what happened next was appalling.
Some of the crowd — who were at least two meters away from the ministers — cried for Holy Communion. Two or three soon called out, “Pasa-pasa nalang! (Just pass Them [the Sacred Hosts] around!)”
At first the ministers did not hear them, or probably ignored it. But the people were beginning to be noisy. Some of crowd, fortunately, said, “Uy, hindi pwedeng pasa-pasa! Komunyon yan!”
But the ministers were rather oblivious to the “debate.” Soon they DID pass around — from one grubby hand to another — the Sacred Hosts to the people who were asking for Communion. I saw one broken Host being handed on. Did the minister break It, or was It broken as It was being passed around? Worse, even the ciborium containing the Hosts was soon passed around!
Too distressed to bear the sight, I looked away. I was also unable to take better photos or videos.
About five minutes later, the crowd was satisfied, with the ministers still looking clueless about what they just did.
This utter irreverence to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament must not happen again. We wouldn’t want the Holy Father to be lifted and tossed and passed around like a plaything or some relief good; much less would we want the Lord of the Popes and the Universe to be disrespected in like manner.
There might have been good intention on the part of the ministers and the communicants during the “pasa-pasa” incident. But that particular way of distributing Holy Communion simply lacked respect, even love.
I’m deeply grateful to the organizers of the papal visit, but I wish that they could do something to avoid such and all kinds of Eucharistic abuse, especially in the concluding Mass on Sunday. Suggestion: tell all priests and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion to stay in their assigned places, making sure that no Host is passed around (because, who knows where or in whose hands They might end up?).
I also hope that we all see that we’d be missing the point if we’re all too excited about the Holy Father’s visit, but forget to grow in love for Christ who daily visits us in the Holy Eucharist.
Oh, and viva el Papa! 🙂