Redemptionis Sacramentum 151-153

The defense against lay persons gets a little shrill:

[151.] Only out of true necessity is there to be recourse to the assistance of extraordinary ministers in the celebration of the Liturgy. Such recourse is not intended for the sake of a fuller participation of the laity but rather, by its very nature, is supplementary and provisional. [Cf. Ecclesiae de Mysterio 8 § 2]Furthermore, when recourse is had out of necessity to the functions of extraordinary ministers, special urgent prayers of intercession should be multiplied that the Lord may soon send a Priest for the service of the community and raise up an abundance of vocations to sacred Orders. [Cf. Ecclesia de Eucharistia 32]

I absolutely agree thay extraordinary ministers (of any kind) are not about the laity, but about providing a liturgical and pastoral service to God’s people. But the same things could be said for the ordained priesthood: it doesn’t exist for its own expression of authority, but to serve the flock.

The citation of Pope John Paul’s directive is awkward here. People serve to breach a gap that bishops and the institution cannot provide, and that a community will not be permitted to provide for itself, and the “urgent” intercession to deliver a community from uppity lay people is suggested? Few individuals would take this seriously.

Even with the understanding about the difference between participation and service, this is an appalling expression of theology and pastoral practice.

[152.] These purely supplementary functions must not be an occasion for disfiguring the very ministry of Priests, in such a way that the latter neglect the celebration of Holy Mass for the people for whom they are responsible, or their personal care of the sick, or the baptism of children, or assistance at weddings or the celebration of Christian funerals, matters which pertain in the first place to Priests assisted by Deacons. It must therefore never be the case that in parishes Priests alternate indiscriminately in shifts of pastoral service with Deacons or laypersons, thus confusing what is specific to each.

The disfigurement of presbyteral ministry comes from within, not from the outside.

[153.] Furthermore, it is never licit for laypersons to assume the role or the vesture of a Priest or a Deacon or other clothing similar to such vesture.

Wouldn’t want to wear it. Really.

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Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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One Response to Redemptionis Sacramentum 151-153

  1. FrMichael says:

    “The disfigurement of presbyteral ministry comes from within, not from the outside.”

    Not always. I have seen some of the abuses mentioned in nn. 152 and 153 in my own diocese.

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