This is somewhat unusual — and it just may be the only statement of its kind issued so far in the United States in the wake of the coronavirus. At a time when some bishops and pastors are discouraging or even banning communion on the tongue, the Archdiocese of Portland is taking the opposite approach.

From the Office of Divine Worship in the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon:  

This office has received some calls from concerned parishioners stating that they have been denied Holy Communion on the tongue or have been told that Holy Communion on the tongue has been banned in certain parishes.

After consulting with the Archbishop this office would like to clearly communicate that a parish cannot ban the reception of Holy Communion on the tongue, nor may an Ordinary or Extraordinary minister refuse a person requesting Holy Communion on the tongue. [Cf: Redemptionis Sacramentum 92. “Each of the faithful always has the right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue at his choice.”]

This morning we consulted with two physicians regarding this issue, one of which is a specialist in immunology for the State of Oregon. They agreed that done properly the reception of Holy Communion on the tongue or in the hand pose a more or less equal risk. The risk of touching the tongue and passing the saliva on to others is obviously a danger however the chance of touching someone’s hand is equally probable and one’s hands have a greater exposure to germs.

Therefore, it is most important that Ordinary and Extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are able to distribute Holy Communion without risk of touching the hands or the tongue. Parishioners should also be instructed how to receive Holy Communion properly either on the tongue or in the hand.

If Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion feel uncomfortable distributing Holy Communion either in the hand or on the tongue they should be excused from this ministry.