Nov 11, 2017

USCCB Updates Guidelines on Administration of Sacraments to Disabled Persons

The U.S. Bishops have issued a revised version of Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities. The bishops voted on the revised guidelines on June 14 during the Spring General Assembly in Indianapolis.

According to a statement by the United States Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), “These new Guidelines take into account medical and technological innovations of recent years, and emphasize the importance of the inclusion of all members of parishes. While not legislative in nature, they will be a helpful resource for dioceses and parishes.”

The approved revisions include the following provisions:

  • The need to support parents who receive a prenatal diagnosis of a life-threatening condition and ensure their child will be baptized “without delay” (#11);
  • Suggestions to help “determine how those who use feeding tubes may avail themselves of the abundant fruits of Holy Communion” (#24);
  • Enhanced guidelines and suggestions related to the reception of Holy Communion for Catholics with Celiac Sprue Disease or other related conditions (#25);
  • Pastoral ways to provide Holy Communion to people with Alzheimer’s or other age-related dementias (#26);
  • The appropriate use of portable electronic communication devices for the Sacrament of Reconciliation (#30).

The National Catholic Partnership on Disability, headquartered in Washington, D.C., welcomed the revised guidelines in a June 15 statement:

“The Guidelines reflect the pastoral response of the U.S. Catholic Bishops to the growth in knowledge and understanding of the gifts and needs of individuals in parish communities who live with disabilities and their desire for full participation in the sacramental life of the Church. In addition to stating general principles to be followed for the celebration of the sacraments in this revised document, the Bishops address each specific sacrament and the issues pertinent to that sacrament for persons with various disabilities.

“For example, with respect to the administration of Holy Communion, the Guidelines provide specific guidance where an individual uses a feeding tube, is gluten intolerant, or is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s or other age-related dementias.”

Deacon Jim Hoegemeier, Associate Director for the Apostolate for Persons with Disabilities, Diocese of Madison, contributed to this story.

Adoremus Staff