Phoenix bishop reverses ruling on wine for Communion

Here’s some good news.

The Arizona Republic reports that Bishop Olmsted has reversed his previous ruling virtually eliminating Communion under both forms. The Bishop apologized for his misunderstanding of church documents. Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo Nevares said “There has been much needless hurt over this issue.”

Interesting aside: when Michael Clancy from the Republic asked if I had a comment, I said  “No.” Then I made the mistake of telling him why I had no comment for the public. You can read what I said in Clancy’s story – he quoted me in full.

OK, so I guess I’ll go back to gloating now.



  1. I think that full credit should be given to Bishop Olmsted for not digging in his heels and for admitting that he was mistaken. In terms of Church law, he certainly could have said Quod scripsi, scripsi and left the restrictions in place, and been perfectly within his rights as bishop.

    Maybe the Vox Clara bishops will take a page from his playbook and admit that they really should have checked their revisions against the original Latin text.

    1. Full credit? Full credit?
      Are you kidding?
      He’s the cause of all of this “needless hurt” over this issue.

    2. Father Anthony, Congratulations. You’re entitled to gloat.

      The bishop showed a lot of courage and he demonstrated the fruitfulness of greater research, dialog and consultation. He’s a much better bishop today for it. Furthermore, the local church spoke up and got the message out. There are lessons here for the entire Catholic Church.

      Let’s hope other diocesan bishops are watching and learning from this.

  2. Thank goodness! Sanity prevails.

    In the future, Fr. Anthony, indicating “on the record” and “off the record” might help with most journalists, who usually (believe it or not) have the ethics to respect those wishes. But you should always assume you’re on the record unless you specify otherwise.

  3. Excellent. Kudos to Bp Olmstead for knowing that he was mistaken and admitting it. Just sorta curious about Bp Morlino (who is fully within his rights ts to leave things as he has has already, I know.)

  4. Yes!
    Fr awr you deserve credit for bringing this to everyone’s attention.
    I suspect Bp Olmsted was under lots of pressure.
    It goes to show that although we may not have a place at the table of many conservative bishops or at the Vatican, we do have the blogosphere and we are able to bring things to the light, make them known, and affect change.
    A mighty powerful tool we have here.
    That big sigh of relief you hear are the grateful members of the Diocese of Phoenix.
    Thank YOU awr!

    1. Oh, I think many people publicized this, and opinions were freely given from many sources beyond PTB.

      1. And, not to take anything away from Anthony, I think it was Rita who, to my knowledge, first pointed out that the Bishop’s rationale concerning an expired indult was simply mistaken.

    2. I didn’t intend to leave anybody out.
      GREAT job to everybody involved in the Body of Christ!
      This battle is won, now onto others like the translation!

    1. Congratulations to all involved! Especially you, Fr Anthony!

      Before we lose the run of ourselves, I don’t think we should be complimenting a bishop for doing what the Lord asked.

  5. First time commenter: I think that not only Fr. Anthony deserves credit, but also Bishop McGrath of San Jose, CA. For a bishop of the Church to publicly task another bishop is out of the ordinary, and in this case, was well worth it.

  6. So, now we only have to wait on further “retractions”:
    – no female servers at the cathedral? (is this another mis-read of the documents?)
    – the McBride “latae sentitiae” excommunication (is this also a mis-read of the church’s tradition of double effect?)

  7. No credit to Olmsted, he only tried to create a situation that he wanted to begin with, like many bishops in the US and elsewhere. When his “reasons” were found to be fallacious he tried damage control.

    He still believes everything that he did originally: (1) fall over yourself as if documents from Rome are gospel from God. (2) Documents are more important than the cure of souls (2) Lay ministers are a burden and detract from “priests” (3) Reception of the cup should not be promoted (4) Laity are not worthy, let’s exclude everyone possible for a smaller holier Jansenist church where clergy can carry on.

    No, no credit, he only acquiesced to the particulars. His spirit is the same. Shame on him and his kind. Shame on those in this church who give authority to those it should not be entrusted to. No, the sacrament of orders doesn’t necessarily supply the grace needed. That’s a line fed by those who seek to justify their own desire of power and to dis-empower those who would protest.

    This is one young catholic who is over it.

  8. I I do not see all the hoopla regarding both species, as a priest I find it unedifying and germ ridden for all to receive from the same cup. I was hoping this would catch on all around. Sadly I guess not!

    1. I am sorry Fr Peter but you are greatly mistaken about the “germ ridden” aspect. This I can speak to.

      1. Using a metal communion cup prevents bacterial and viral activity.
      2. Alcohol content is bactericidal, kills bacteria on contact.
      3. Most important, the wiping action of the cup is MOST important. Just wiping the lip of the cup will remove most if not all pathogens. A study by the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Academy of Optometry found that by the simple action of rubbing contact lenses will remove most pathogens and were unable to culture much after rubbing (lenses should be disinfected of course for Cl wearers out there).
      So by wiping the lip of the communion cup combined with the cidal activity of the alcohol in the consecrated wine should alleviate most fears. That is the science.
      Of course some with political motives will use the germ theory for eliminating the cup and ignore the good science.

      1. Has anyone done a study on how “germ ridden” the hosts might be?

        Seems the potential might be greater there. They are touched by the hand of Eucharistic Ministers and in the case of communion in the hand by hands that have just shaken hands with people at the Sign of Peace.

        We are always being told of the spread of germs by hands, and to be washing our hands.

      2. Jack, we can start w/ a few assumptions.
        First, the hosts are probably quite sanitary, expecially if they are made by Cavanaugh Altar Bread.
        Second, we can assume that hopefully the minister has somewhat clean hands. In my diocese both the priest and ministers of communion will disinfect their hands w/ an antiseptic at the credence table prior to communion.
        Now, individual communicants may have somewhat unsanitary hands. If they receive in the hand they may contaminate their host w/ germs on their hands. BUT the pH of the stomach usually destroys most germs.

        However, receiving on the tongue spreads contamination to a greater extent. I can tell you as an EO minister of communion that it is common to get saliva on one of my digits when giving communion to someone on the tongue. Then unfortunately we contaminate EVERY host thereafter whether giving it to an unsuspecting communicant in the hand or on the tongue. However, the pH of the stomach is such that these contaminants are also destroyed.

        ***The debate about individual infection is rather moot because the PRIMARY SITE FOR INFECTION is through the nose and not by consumption of contaminated hosts or consecrated wine.

        I will tell you the worst possible way of receiving communion is self intinction. A study done by the ECUSA (Episcopal Church USA) shows just this. A study was done whereby communicants received in the hand then self dipped the host in the wine in the chalice. I assume they weren’t using consecrated species (I hope not!). They then examined the remaining wine and found all kinds of pathogens, debris including, yes, fecal matter (assumed from fingernails). They have now discourage self intinction.

        ps: never touch your nose unless you’ve washed your hands. Once the virus enters the nasal passage and sets up shop there the body releases histamine which increases the blood flow to the nose causing congestion and excessive amounts of mucus. Antihistamines and decongestants help relieve the symptoms of a “cold,” but doesn’t cure it.

  9. A Bishop reverses his decision after a matter is clarified and people gloat? I think it is admirable that after clarification the Bishop took another stand. And in the bitter end, isn’t it up to the Bishop of his Diocease to regulate communion under both kinds anyways? It doesn’t matter to me as I do not live in Phoenix, nor do I feel that I have not received in the fullest when receiving only the host. At least there is clarity to the situation now. So while others gloat, let the rest of us hope that the so many as of yet unclarified things, get the crystal clear clarity that this now has.

      1. None at all. Since I believe what the Church teaches, that the fullness of reception can be held in the host alone, this issue bothered me not in the least. If it was I would have no problem saying it.

  10. As a member of the Phoenix diocese, I am relieved. However, the “needless hurt” mentioned by auxiliary Bishop Navares is the direct result of this whole misguided adventure. I can only hope healing will be as swift as the resolution of the problem. I think it is worthwhile to read Bishop Olmsted’s own statement on the subject which can be found here. He has changed his original plan but it seems his original reasoning persists.

    I am grateful to the many people who helped promote knowledge and understanding of the situation. It made our own efforts within the diocese that much more effective.

  11. Media in Phoenix, especially the Republic newspaper, are completely anti-Catholic. Now, it surely doesn’t help that the Bishop is an extremely reluctant communicator, and his diocesan offices make no effort to cooperate with the local media. But I swear that if the diocese published a statement stating that the sky was blue, that Clancy would immediately write an article citing experts that disagree. For no reason other than to be disagreeable.

    I can trust that when I see a Clancy byline, that I’m about to read a whiny rant about how the Bishop and the Diocese are wrong. It really doesn’t matter what the issue is. I know I won’t get a balanced story.

    I urge you not to cooperate with Clancy in the future. You can trust that whatever you tell him will be spun to put the diocese and the Church in general, in the worst possible light.

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