An interesting, but not a novel proposal to examine the possibility of extraordinary ministers for anointing of the sick. Rita Ferrone is surfacing an idea floated elsewhere by John Ziegler and James Empereur in decades past. But perhaps it belongs on the table for a Jubilee of Mercy? Maybe we’re too late for that.
You might predict I think the matter is worth a wide discernment. I don’t think Cardinal Ratzinger’s 2005 word on this is the last. Sure shouldn’t be.
The contributions from the naysayers fascinate me. The default position for many Catholics is to scramble for the Catechism or the documents of Trent and play parrot. Very little curiosity on the part of some. If only the idea were being floated at a Pope Francis synod. Though it’s doubtless less sexy than remarried Catholics approaching the Eucharist.
Greg Kandra weighs in with thumbs down here, though technically, he’s just the bird on a branch. Of course, when you’re working in Brooklyn or Rome, the situation isn’t quite the same as rural areas in the world where priests are few and far between. And perhaps the suffering of souls with serious illness is at least as great.
I think the issue underscores what frustrates me in many internet discussions. One negative reaction attempted to put words onto Ms Ferrone’s post. Her response:
I repeated what I said, and now you are willfully ignoring what I’ve said, preferring your imagination of what you think I meant and then challenging me to deny it. And then you want to blame me for not making more explicit what I’ve actually said, and said again, when I’ve never said or implied otherwise? Pfui.
Pfui indeed. Her foil needs a lesson in CCC 2478 before he tackles the catechism on anointing. Or anything else, really.
The truth of it is that believers have a need that is being unmet. Some of us are willing to explore the limits of history and practice to help discern a way to meet the need. Others want to slam the door shut. Non-sacramental anointing is offered as a possible solution, but how satisfactory is that with regard to the Eucharist (Communion services)?
We should look at the full scope of tradition, including the serious reasons why administration of the sacraments have been reserved to bishops, or to priests, or to clergy. Those who have nothing to contribute beyond what others said in the 1500’s or such might consider how to rework their arguments for the present day. Especially in light of a theological priority: human need.