It was fifty years ago today that Pope Paul VI upturned the tradition that was Roman Catholic minor orders. The document, Ministeria Quaedam. There is no English translation of this document on the Vatican site, but I did find an English rendering here at Adoremus.
I noticed an essay here by a Catholic bothered by this development. Still. Professor Kwasniewski suggests MQ was only an attempt at abolition. While it is true Eastern Churches retain some or all of the minor orders, the reality is that in day-to-day parish operations, guys in these roles are notably absent.
The author’s argument almost seems to be retention for its own sake. Ah, and this bit:
This makes the men in minor orders to be sacramentalia permanentia — blessed and consecrated objects of a sort! For instance, the blessing of a rosary is a sacramental; the blessed rosary itself is a sacramental; the use of the blessed rosary is a sacramental. Likewise, we can say that the ceremonies conferring the minor orders are sacramentals, those in minor orders are sacramentals, and the exercises of their offices are sacramentals.
I think we can give men–or women–more respect than assigning object value to their persons. Harry Potter being one of Voldemort’s horcruxes is one thing. Minor orders, at worst, tend to steer the Church, lay and clergy and in-between, away from the notion of baptism as a sacrament of vocation. (Aside: I think the institution would have more success developing this notion of Baptism in its young adults if it were serious about more priests and religious.) Baptism is where our energies deserve to focus.
MQ summary from the Adoremus site:
Effective January 1, 1973, Pope Paul VI, by his “motu proprio” Ministeria Quaedam, revised “certain ministries”, or liturgical offices. He eliminated the “minor orders” of porter, lector (reader), exorcist and acolyte, and the subdiaconate; and he established the offices of lector and acolyte as instituted ministries “more closely associated with the Word and the altar” available to approved lay men, as well as to seminarians.
The “motu proprio” was dated August 15, 1972, and was followed by the Rite of Institution of Readers and Acolytes, issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship on December 3, 1972, also becoming effective January 1 (Latin edition).
More as we progress through the month. But I’ll leave with one comment. Bishops, priests, and deacons all have roles at liturgy, but also outside of the worship ministries of the Church. Charisms frequently cited: administration, teaching, charity, counselling. What distinctions in the world did men in minor orders offer? In progressing from one order to the next, did seminarians have to develop and show charisms? Or just receive a year’s worth of passing grades in an academic environment?