BY A STAFF REPORTER
CARDINAL HEENAN'S decision to end giving Communion in the hand in the Westminster Archdiocese, announced this week, has caused protests among laity and clergy.
The instruction, to be implemented by the end of May, surprised clergy of the diocese, and the Diocesan Liturgical Commission had not been consulted.
Only this month a letter from the Cardinal to a member of the traditionalist Pro Fide movement, published in its newsletter, had said he had "no doubt at all" that communion in the hand "will soon be universal."
The Cardinal's message to discontinue the practice was in an "ad clerum" accompanying his pastoral Sound Theology on Sunday. It stated: "In the constitution Sacrosancrum Concil iu in bishops were authorised to permit experiments for limited periods. In certain communities and, I am told, even in some parishes, holy communion is being given in the hand per modum experimenti.
"The Diocesan Liturgical Commission will be asked to make recommendations after they have received reports on this experiment. I am personally persuaded that with proper pastoral preparation receiving Holy Communion in the hand need not lead either to irreverence or to a diminution of faith in the Real Presence.
"In liturgical matters, however, the opinion of the bishop is not the deciding factor. Liturgical law requires us to be guided by the National Episcopal Conference which can authorise changes only after a twothirds majority of votes has been obtained in a secret ballot.
"The bishops of England and Wales have not yet applied to the Holy See for permission to change the present method of distributing Holy Communion. After the month of May the experiment of giving holy communion in the hand will end."
Mgr. Bruce Kent, chaplain to London University, said the majority of students had opted for communion in the hand at chaplaincy masses. "Several bishops have attended the mass and none has objected," he said.
"On Sunday I wilt read the Cardinal's statement and I expect most will coniorrn, though they will he perplexed and disappointed.
"But if some insist on taking it in the hand. it is not my duty to prevent them receiving Communion.
Fr. Wilfrid Trotman, of St. Luke's, Pinner, Middlesex, said most of his parishioners preferred Communion in the hand. I-le had not decided what he would do now. The instruction has been aa colossal shock, it will upset quite a lot of parishioners."
Miss Phiffippa Stewart Craig, president of the Grail, which has headquarters at Pinner, said members had received Communion in the hand at conferences for years arid most preferred it. "It makes an enormous difference to them and from a pastoral point of view it is very helpful."
"The majority of the National Council for the Lay Apostolate, meeting here last week,received Communion in the hand. The custom is very widespread among Catholic groups. I am writing to the Cardinal to tell hint of the sadness his statement has caused."
Mr. Frank Pycroft, a member of the Catholic Renewal Movement executive. said C.R.M. would discuss the Cardinal's decision at its next meeting. The Movement has advocated Communion in the hand for sonic years.
Option Mgr. John Humphreys, secretary of the National Liturgical Commission, said the commission had twice voted almost unanimously advising the Bishops to get an "indult" from Rome and so make Communion in the hand official by an option in Britain.
Fr. Edward Matthews, secretary of Westminster's Liturgical Commission, said he had not known in advance about the instructions of the Cardinal. who had probably issued them to keep in line with most bishops.
Fr. Matthews did not know how many parishes offered Communion in the hand, hut "quite a number" in Westminster and elsewhere did so.