Loyalty to the Pope DAILY CATHOLIC for December 1
The Vicar of Christ Speaks
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vol, 8
no. 42

Gif Animation Photos of Holy Father used with permission of EWTN

INTRODUCTION: With the release on November 13th of the document on the respective duties of priests and lay people, especially in parish life and ecause of its importance and need for dissemination, we will take the next several issues to bring you this document in installments, signed by the heads of the Congregation for the Clergy, Pontifical Council for the Laity, Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Congregation for Bishops, Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts. It was approved by the Holy Father on August 13 this year and signed two days later on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and released publicly November 13th, the feast of Saint Francis Xavier Cabrini, a saint known for education. Education on these guidelines is necessary for all parishes at every level. Therefore, we bring you the Holy See's complete document in installments.

on the Role of the Laity

INSTRUCTION on Certain Questions regarding the Collaboration of the Non-ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of Priest

Eleventh installment: PRACTICAL PROVISIONS - Article 2
The Ministry of the Word
    1. The content of that ministry consists in "the pastoral preaching, catechetics and all forms of Christian instruction, among which the liturgical homily should hold pride of place".(60)
    (60: Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum, n. 24.)

The exercise of its respective functions is properly that of the Bishop of each particular Church since he is the moderator of the entire ministry of the Word in his Diocese (61)

    (61: Cf. C.I.C., canon 756, paragraph 2.)
and it is also properly that of his priests who are his collaborators.(62)
    (62: Cf. ibid., canon 757.)
In communion with the Bishop and his priests, this ministry also belongs to deacons.(63)
    (63: Cf. ibidem)

2. The non-ordained faithful, according to their proper character, participate in the prophetic function of Christ, are constituted as his witnesses and afforded the "sensus fidei" and the grace of the Word. All are called to grow even more as "heralds of faith in things to be hoped for (cf. Hebrews 11, 1).(64)

    (64: Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, n. 35.)
Today, much depends on their commitment and generous service to the Church, especially in the work of catechesis.

Therefore, the faithful, especially members of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life can be invited to collaborate, in lawful ways, in the exercise of the ministry of the Word.(65)

    (65: Cf. C.I.C., canon 758-759; 785, paragraph 1.)

3. To ensure the effectiveness of the collaboration mentioned in paragraph 2 above, it is necessary to note some conditions relating to the operation of this same collaboration.

Canon 766 of the Codex Iuris Canonici establishes the conditions under which competent authority may admit the non-ordained faithful to preach in ecclesia vel oratorio. The use of the expression admitti possunt makes clear that in no instance is this a right such as that which is specific and proper to the Bishop (66)

    (66: Cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, n. 25; C.I.C., canon 763.)
or a faculty such as enjoyed by priests and deacons.(67)
    (67: Cf. C.I.C., canon 764.)

The terms in which these conditions are expressed - "If in certain circumstances it is necessary..., ...if in particular cases it would be useful..." in canon 766, make clear the exceptional nature of such cases as well as the fact that such must always be done iuxta Episcoporum conferentiae praescripta. In this final clause, this Canon establishes the primary source for correct discernment with regard to necessity or useful in specific cases. The prescriptions of the Conference of Bishops in this matter, which must receive the "recognitio" of the Apostolic See, are obliged to lay down those opportune criteria which may assist the diocesan Bishop in making appropriate pastoral decisions, proper to the nature of the same episcopal office.

4. In some areas, circumstances can arise in which a shortage of sacred ministers and permanent, objectively verifiable, situations of need or advantage exist that would recommend the admission of the non-ordained faithful to preaching.

Preaching in churches or oratories by the non-ordained faithful can be permitted only as a supply for sacred ministers or for those particular reasons foreseen by the universal law of the Church or by Conferences of Bishops. It cannot, however, be regarded as an ordinary occurrence nor as an authentic promotion of the laity.

5. Above all in the preparation for the sacraments, catechists take care to instruct those being catechized on the role and figure of the priest as the sole dispenser of the mysteries for which they are preparing.


December 1, 1997 volume 8, no. 42

December 1997