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Newman beatification Mass. Reception on the hand and the tongue are – at least for now – perfectly legitimate ways of receiving Our Lord on the whim of the minister. But personally, I have long nurtured a hope that the practice of both giving and receiving Communion on the tongue would cease to be an option. As a lay minister of the Eucharist (and

zoology graduate), there are times when I dread my turn on the ciborium. Those receiving on the tongue do not always open their mouths, or extend their tongue, appropriately. Sometimes Communion requires the host to be pushed between almost clenched teeth; on occasion I have been almost bitten by someone snatching at the host or by a premature closing of the mouth. More often, and more importantly, I have often been left with saliva on both my thumbnail and the tip of my forefinger, auto- matically transferred to the next recipient. While faith offers no harm will come, science suggests we should be adult and wise. Many communicable diseases are transferred via saliva and an adult Church is duty-bound, via its practice, to protect the health and well-being of its recipients. I wonder if the priests who insist on Communion via the tongue would be so disposed were they not receiving their own consecrated host, uncontaminated by the residual saliva of previous communicants. Re the bigger picture, I fear that Michael Knowles may be right about a more sinister sub-agenda: that to insist on reception on the tongue is an infantilisation of the laity, and its inverse, i.e. inevitably reinforcing a paternalistic clerical power. Val Clark Great Yarmouth, Norfolk

Demographics of poverty Abbé Ambroise Tine’s absorbing article (“More aid, better spent”, 18 September) is full of excellent statistics. However, the demographics, by far the most important statistics, have been left out. In Senegal, Abbé Tine's own country, the population has increased fivefold since 1950, and by 2050 it is likely to have increased tenfold (2.4 million in 1950; 12.8 million now; 26 million in 2050). Most other extremely poor countries follow the same pattern. Abbé Tine fears that Senegal may not

attain the Millennium Development Goals. He is right to be anxious. While those countries that have controlled population growth are likely to reach these Goals, those that have made little attempt to control population growth will not. Hunger and deprivation will continue and there will be little reduction in maternal and child mortality.

Over the last 40 years, no one has dared to campaign for the provision of family planning in developing countries, but in March this year Save the Children broke the taboo and 18 | THE TABLET | 2 October 2010

For more of your correspondence, go to the new Letters Extra section of The Tablet’s expanded website:

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