The National Conference of Catholic Bishops at their semiannual meeting next May will reconsider the question of permitting the faithful in this country to receive wafers of holy communion in the hand.
Some Catholics have for years been urging a change in the practice of the priest placing the wafer directly into the open mouth of the communicant, a system that some feel is demeaning to the dignity of the communicant.
Last November, a Needham, Mass., oral health specialist and his wife, John and Alice Brennan, appealed to the bishops to permit communion in the hand as a matter of hygiene. The Brennans, active Cathilics, contended that in the present method of administering communion, the priest's fingers may come in contact with germ or virus-laden saliva and spread disease from one worshipper to the next.
But the bishops declined at their meeting last November to take up what they deemed a question of liturgical revision on the health grounds.
The Catholic Church in Canada as well as most European churches have approved communion in the hand.
The U.S. bishops have twice before considered communion in the hand - most recently in 1973 - but have rejected it both times.
THe Rev. Thomas A. Krosnecki, associate director of the bishops' committee on the liturgy, said the matter would be discussed by the bishops in closed executive session at their meeting in Chicago, May 3 to 5.