A surprising change of course, reported in the Arizona Republic:
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix has backed away from his ban on using consecrated wine for Communion at most Masses, a decision that was originally met with widespread outcry.
In an explanation of his decision in a letter to the priests of the diocese, Olmsted apologized for his own misunderstanding of church documents, including new guidelines and translations for the Catholic Mass, and for any confusion arising from his previous statement made at a priests’ meeting in September.
Father Anthony Ruff, an expert on new translations for the Mass, who criticized the bishop’s previous position as a “step backward,” said he had never heard of a bishop “retracting so quickly.”
“Anything I say could sound like gloating,” Ruff said. “I think it’s for local clergy and liturgical ministers to find the right way to express their goodwill and happiness with this.”
Olmsted’s decision comes just two months after he announced that Communion would no longer include wine, which Catholics consider the blood of Christ, on a regular basis. The decision received strong criticism within the diocese and nationwide.
Olmsted was not available for comment. But, in his letter, he said the diocese mishandled communication about the new rules.
He said stories in both secular and religious media “upset many of our people and left you, especially the priests in parishes and institutions, without all the tools needed to answer questions.”
“I am sorry, too, that this mishandling has created tensions between some priests and parishes,” he wrote.