Apparently Rita Ferrone’s anointing post got “picked up” at dotCommonweal. Yesterday’s post was more about poking at conservative Catholics putting their brains and truth-telling on hold to spit out the notion at PrayTell. Tonight I’d like to give my opinion and open it up for comments.
The idea has been around for a few decades now. I think the Church’s ministry and mission would be extended by local bishops deputing lay people and deacons to anoint the sick.
The priests I work with in my Northwest parish are diligent about visiting the sick and anointing them. But I cannot recall a parish with more diligent clergy.
I do remember my two years in rural ministry. Having a deacon colleague ready to anoint would have been helpful. My own perspective: it would have been an honor to be an extraordinary minister of anointing and fill the need.
The issue is mainly about serving the needy. Not the protection of institutional aspects. I know FrMichael values the past. But the past also found the Church officially condemning such things as priests presiding at Mass, or hearing private confessions, or bishops moving to a second diocese. All of those traditions fell. I think this one could fall sometime soon, too.
I don’t think it’s a matter of shortage of priests. The Catholic church, in places outside of men’s monasteries, large Christian cities, and seminaries, has usually not enjoyed a glut of clergy. If we are in crisis, it is surely a crisis of discipleship, not ordained ministry. Or perhaps it’s a crisis of needing more courage to move forward in pilgrimage, and leave behind the bunkers and circled wagons.
At the very least, the point is worth discussing. Openly. seriously. And without insults lofted from either side.