Your Excellency (Bishop Joseph A. Fiorenza, NCCB President),
Thank you for your kind letter of 24 July regarding the recent reply given
by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
to the proposal of the Conference of Bishops of the United States of
America of the text of a Pastoral Introduction to the Order of Mass.
As regards the question raised by Your Excellency concerning n. 21 of the
Pastoral Introduction and the assistance that may be rendered by extraordinary ministers in the distribution of the Precious Blood and in particular
in any necessary first distribution among ancillary vessels, the Congregation is happy to confirm Your Excellency's interpretation. While, as is
clear from the document itself and from the underlying universal norms, it
is in the first place the duty of ordinary ministers to engage in such
service, in the event of real pastoral need arising and in the absence of
ordinary ministers in sufficient numbers recourse may be had to extraordinary ministers in the way you describe.
In this context, the Congregation would wish to mention its concern that
extraordinary ministers be dressed with a modesty and dignity befitting
the function they perform.
With warmly reciprocated good wishes to Your Excellency for an appropriate
period of summer repose, I am,
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+ Francesco Pio Tamburrino, O.S.B.
The original paragraph in question from the Pastoral Introduction to the
Roman Missal (U.S.) reads as follows:
"those instances where large numbers of chalices are required for the distribution of the
Eucharist under two species, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion...may assist with the pouring of the Precious Blood into ancillary chalices
during the singing of the Lamb of God. (PIOM, no. 21.2) In such
instances, the Extraordinary Ministers come to the Altar as the Lamb of
God is sung. Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion do not, however,
assist with the breaking or distribution of the consecrated hosts into