All of St. Pius X’s successors have confirmed his guidelines on Communion at the first use of reason. We have gathered the entire documentation on the issue in a publication entitled: «Collection of ecclesiastical texts and documents on the age of the First Communion of children». Please write to us for a copy.
- H.H. Benedict XV (1914 -1922), the immediate successor of St. Pius X, fully accepting the spirit of the Decree Quam Singulari, on June 26, 1916 addressed all the children in Europe, inviting them to offer Holy Communion to end the dreadful war in progress (Acta Benedicti P.P. XV in order to solemnly promote the Eucharistic Communion of boys and girls on the 30th of July, for the intention of the Holy Father. June 26, 1916, Acta Apostolicae Sedis, vol. VIII, no. 7 – 7.7.916).
- H.H. Pius XI (1922 -1939). His official spokesman was Cardinal Domenico Iorio, Secretary of the Sacred Congregation for the Discipline of the Sacraments who, in his Commentary on the Decree Quam Singulari published in 1928 writes: «We would like to quote the august philosophy of the Holiness of Our Lord Pope Pius XI on the First Communion of children. To our knowledge His Holiness, sending His Excellency Cardinal Baggiani as his representative at the National Eucharistic Congress in Bologna last year, expressed his regret that the Decree on the First Communion of children wasn’t fully observed everywhere yet: and at the same time he authorized him to declare, in the above Congress, that it was his firm intention and will to let this Decree take full effect».
During one of his audiences, a priest from Bressanone asked him a question about the First Communion of children and he pronounced these unmistakable words: «Do it quickly, quickly, quickly!».
- H.H. Pius XII (1939 - 1958) supported the prophetic testament of Pius X by acknowledging that the Eucharist is the main source of Grace by which the Church, in the difficult coming times, could overcome the trial: «The Church, today more than ever, is a Church which fights and struggles. Where must the fighters come from? Where must they be formed if not at the altar, with the strength of the Holy Eucharist? Everything else will not resist, but life with, in and from Christ will resist»..
- H.H. Paul VI (1963 -1978) in the General Directory for Catechesis, which was approved and confirmed in Rome on April 11, 1971 calls for obedience to the Decree «Quam Singulari».
The purpose of this Regulation («Initiation to the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist», Enclosed with the General Directory for Catechesis approved and confirmed by the authority of His Holiness Paul VI, Rome April 11, 1971. Official Latin text in: AAS 63 (1971) 97-176 Italian version according to Enchiridion Vaticanum – September 1982 – 12 ed. – EDB Bologna) is to provide the main theological-pastoral principles inspired by the II Vatican Ecumenical Council and by the Magisterium of the Church, in order to direct and coordinate the pastoral action of the ministry of the word. The main recipients of the Directory are the Bishops, the Episcopal Conferences and those who have responsibilities in catechetic matters. Pope Paul VI reaffirms the importance of the obligation of First Communion at the beginning of the use of reason in order to stem a practice which – by bringing the age of First Communion to 8 or 9 – frustrated the Decree «Quam Singulari» since it clearly contrasts with it also with regard to the Sacrament of Confession.
Paul VI stepped in once again expressing his disapproval of this practice on two occasions, in 1973 and in 1977 (Acta Apostolicae Sedis, documents which were issued together by the Congregation for the Discipline of the Sacraments and for divine worship and the Congregation for the Clergy regarding the administration of the Sacrament of Penance: AAS 65, 1973, p. 410 and AAS 69, 1977, p. 427), in order at least to put an end to the more serious abuses. In these two further Declarations regarding the General Directory for Catechesis it is once more expressly emphasized that the Church desires mandatory Confession before Communion. The heart of his request is clearly formulated: the return of the spirit of the Decree «Quam Singulari» and the observance of this Decree. We literally quote: «With this Document, after careful consideration.… the Holy Congregations for the Discipline of the Sacraments and for the Clergy, with the Approval of Paul VI, declare that… the Decree Quam Singulari must be observed and applied everywhere and above all» (AAS 65, 1973, cit.)
- H.H. John Paul Pablo II (1978 - 2005) on October 17, 1979 confirmed the guidelines of his predecessor Paul VI in the Apostolic Exhortation «Catechesi Tradendae» which was addressed to the Episcopacy, the Clergy and the Faithful of the whole Catholic Church regarding the catechesis of our times. In this Apostolic Exhortation it is declared that the «General Directory for Catechesis» is still the basic document for encouraging and guiding catechetical renewal throughout the Church. The references made to the Decree Quam Singulari by the two Pontiffs attest the relevance and importance of the Decree itself: Paul VI and John Paul II remind us that we must return to this source «to encourage and guide catechetical renewal throughout the Church», as John Paul II expressed.
During the general audience of August 17, 1994 Pope John Paul II spoke about the importance of children «the heart of the Church». The culminating point of the audience were his prophetic words: «…It is instinctive for me to conclude with an incisive expression of my predecessor St. Pius X. In explaining the motivations for anticipating the age of First Communion, he said: “There will be saints among the children”. And there actually have been saints. But we can now add: “There will be apostles among the children”. Let us pray that this prediction, this auspice may come true ever more, as St. Pius X’s came true.»
The same Pope, in his «Letter to all the children in the world», of Christmas 1994, the first official document in the history of the Church with which a Pope directly addresses children, tells them: «For how many children in the history of the Church has the Eucharist been a source of spiritual strength, sometimes even heroic strength!»
Children, with the spiritual strength they receive in the Eucharist, acquire extraordinary strength in prayer, and thus the Pope confirms in the same document: «What enormous power the prayer of children has! Jesus and his Mother often choose children and give them important tasks for the life of the Church and of humanity. I decided to ask you, dear boys and girls, to take upon yourselves the duty of praying for peace. The Pope relies very much on your prayers».
In his last book: «Rise, let us be on our way!» (Mondatori, 2004, p. 81) John Paul II goes back to the subject: «My predecessor, St. Pius X, gave a moving testimony of pastoral love for children, with the decisions he made regarding First Communion. Not only did he lower the age required to approach the Table of the Lord, (…) but he gave the possibility to receive First Communion even before the age of seven, if the child proves he has sufficient discernment. An earlier First Holy Communion was a pastoral decision which deserves to be praised and remembered because it has born many fruits of holiness and apostolate among children, as well as fostering the increase of vocations to the priesthood».