Accordingly, the Church, in its pastoral zeal and care, has repeatedly made practical laws and timely statements of doctrine aimed at furthering devotion toward the eucharist, the summit and center of Christian worship. The new conditions of the present seem to demand that, without prejudice to the supreme reverence due to so great a sacrament,1 access to communion be made easier, so that by sharing more fully in the effects of the sacrifice of the Mass, the faithful may more willingly and intensely give themselves to God and to the good of the Church and of all humanity. The first measures to be taken are meant to prevent reception of communion from becoming either impossible or difficult because there are not enough ministers. Measures must be taken, secondly, to prevent exclusion of the sick from this great comfort of the spirit, the reception of communion, because of their inability to observe the law of fast, even in its current less severe form. Finally, it seems advantageous in certain instances to allow the faithful who request it to receive communion a second time on the same day.
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The People of God participate in this call through the dynamic of an organic communion in accord with their diverse ministeries and charisms. The call has been forcefully repeated in the documents of the Magisterium, particularly since the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council 1 and thereafter. This is especially true of the last three General Ordinary Assemblies of the Synod of Bishops which reaffirmed the particular identities of the lay faithful and of sacred ministers and religious, in their proper dignity and diversity of functions.
These Assemblies encouraged all the faithful to build up the Church by collaborating, in communion, for the salvation of the world.
The necessity and importance of apostolic action on the part of the lay faithful in present and future evangelization must be borne in mind.
This call for the active participation of all the faithful in the mission of the Church has not been unheard. The Synod of Bishops observed "The Holy Spirit continues to renew the youthfulness of the Church and has inspired new aspirations towards holiness and the participation of so many lay faithful.
This is witnessed, among other ways, in the new manner of active collaboration among priests, religious and the lay faithful; by active participation in the Liturgy; in the proclamation of the Word of God and catechesis; in the multiplicity of services and tasks entrusted to the lay faithful and fulfilled by them; by the flourishing of groups, associations and spiritual movements as well as by lay commitment to the life of the Church and in the fuller and meaningful participation of women in the development of society".
This is especially true after the notable impetus given by the Second Vatican Council and the Pontifical Magisterium in this regard. The priority of the task of the New Evangelization, which involves all the People of God, requires that, today in particular, in addition to a "special activism" on the part of priests, there be also a full recovery of the awareness of the secular nature of the mission of the laity.
The faithful can be active in this particular moment of history in areas of culture, in the arts and theatre, scientific research, labor, means of communication, politics, and the economy, etc. They are also called to a greater creativity in seeking out ever more effective means whereby these environments can find the fullness of their meaning in Christ. In this ministry the lay faithful, men or women and non-ordained members of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, are called to assist.
The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council refers particularly to this when it teaches: "The hierarchy entrusts the laity with certain charges more closely connected with the duties of pastors: in the teaching of Christian doctrine, for example, in certain liturgical actions in the care of souls".
It must be remembered that "collaboration with" does not, in fact, mean "substitution for". It must be noted with great satisfaction that in many Particular Churches the collaboration of the non-ordained faithful in the pastoral ministry of the clergy has developed in a very positive fashion. It has borne an abundance of good fruits while, at the same time being mindful of the boundaries established by the nature of the sacraments and of the diversity of charisms and ecclesiastical functions.
It has also brought about bounteous and tangible results in situations of a shortage or scarcity of sacred ministers. The necessary aspect of hierarchical relationship has been maintained while constantly seeking to remedy the situation of emergency.
Sustained by the grace of the Lord and by their sacred ministers journeying alongside them, they are well received by the communities which they serve. Sacred Pastors are extremely grateful for the generosity with which numerous religious and lay faithful present themselves for this specific service, carried out with a loyal "sensus Ecclesiae" and an edifying dedication. Particular thanks and encouragement should be extended to those who carry out these tasks in situations of persecution of the Christian community.
This is also true for mission territories, whether these be geographical or cultural, and for places where the Church is newly planted or where the presence of the priest is only sporadic. The scope of this present document is simply to provide a clear, authoritative response to the many pressing requests which have come to our Dicasteries from Bishops, Priests and Laity seeking clarification in the light of specific cases of new forms of "pastoral activity" of the non-ordained on both parochial and diocesan levels.
Though being born in very difficult and emergency situations and even initiated by those who sought to be genuinely helpful in the pastoral moment, certain practices have often been developed which have had very serious negative consequences and have caused the correct understanding of true ecclesial communion to be damaged.
These practices tend to predominate in certain areas of the world and even within these, a great deal of variation can be found. These matters cause the grave pastoral responsibility of many to be recalled. This is especially true of Bishops 15 whose task it is to promote and ensure observance of the universal discipline of the Church founded on certain doctrinal principles already clearly enunciated by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council 16 and by the Pontifical Magisterium 17 thereafter.
This document came into being as a result of deliberations within our Dicasteries as well as from a Symposium attended by representatives of the Episcopates most affected by the problem. Finally, there was an extensive consultation of many Presidents of Conferences of Bishops, of individual Prelates, as well as with experts from the various ecclesiastical disciplines and from different parts of the world.
From all of the foregoing, a clear convergence emerged which is faithfully presented in this Instruction. However, the document does not claim to be exhaustive nor can it address every possible variation which might present itself. It is limited to consideration of the best known of these as there is great variety of particular circumstance possible which can give rise to these situations.
This text was drawn up based on the solid foundation of the ordinary and extraordinary magisterium of the Church and is entrusted for its faithful application, first of all to the Bishops most affected by the issues raised. It is also brought to the attention of the Prelates of those ecclesiastical jurisdictions where, even though the practices described are not found in those territories at this time, given their rapid diffusion, such situation could change quickly.
Before addressing the concrete situations which were presented to us, it is necessary to look briefly at the essential theological elements underlying the significance of Holy Orders in the organic make-up of the Church.
This is so that the ecclesiastical discipline will be understood better in light of the truth and of ecclesial communion which are concerned with promoting the rights and obligations of all, and for which in the Church "the salvation of souls must always be the supreme law".
This Church is the people of the New Covenant who, "through Baptism and the anointing of the Holy Spirit are reborn and consecrated as a spiritual temple and a holy priesthood. By living the Christian life, they offer up spiritual sacrifices and proclaim the prodigious deeds of Him who called them from darkness into his own wonderful light cf. By the will of Christ some are constituted "teachers, dispensers of the mysteries and pastors". For this reason the priest is exhorted " Entirely dependent on Christ who gives mission and authority, ministers are truly?
Because the word and grace of which they are ministers are not their own, but are given to them by Christ for the sake of others, they must freely become the slaves of all". Unity and Diversity of Ministerial Functions The functions of the ordained minister, taken as a whole, constitute a single indivisible unity in virtue of their singular foundation in Christ. It is signified and realized by the minister through the functions of teaching, sanctifying and governing the faithful.
Therefore, since the exercise of the munus docendi, sanctificandi et regendi by the sacred minister constitute the essence of pastoral ministry, the diverse functions proper to ordained ministers form an indivisible unity and cannot be understood if separated, one from the other. Rather they must be viewed in terms of mutual correspondence and complementarity. Only in some of these functions, and to a limited degree, may the non-ordained faithful cooperate with their pastors should they be called to do so by lawful Authority and in accordance with the prescribed manner.
Only the Sacrament of Orders gives the ordained minister a particular participation in the office of Christ, the Shepherd and Head in his Eternal Priesthood. The task exercised in virtue of supply takes its legitimacy formally and immediately from the official deputation given by Pastors, as well as from its concrete exercise under the guidance of ecclesiastical authority".
In some instances, such have given rise to an idea of the common priesthood of the faithful which mistakes its nature and specific meaning. Amongst other things, it can encourage a reduction in vocations to the ministerial priesthood and obscure the specific purpose of seminaries as places of formation for the ordained ministry. These are closely related phenomena. Their interdependence calls for careful reflection so as to arrive at well considered conclusions in their regard.
The Indispensability of the Ordained Ministry For a community of the faithful to be called a Church, and indeed to truly be a Church, it cannot be guided according to political criteria or those of human organisations. Every particular Church owes its guidance to Christ since it was He who fundamentally linked apostolic mission to the Church and hence no community has the power to grant that mission to itself 40 or to delegate it.
In effect, a canonical or juridical determination made by hierarchal authority is necessary for the exercise of the munus of teaching and governing. Thus the ordained priesthood is absolutely irreplaceable. As an immediate consequence of this there is the necessity for a continuing, zealous and well-organised pastoral promotion of vocations so as to provide the Church with those ministers which she needs and to ensure a proper seminary training for those preparing for the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
Any other solution to problems deriving from a shortage of sacred ministers can only lead to precarious consequences. This is especially true for those nations where a strong sense of materialism is evident. This collaboration was regulated by successive post-conciliar legislation and particularly by the Codex Iuris Canonici.
The Code, having referred to the rights and duties of all the faithful, 46 in the subsequent title devoted to the rights and duties of the lay faithful, treats not only of those which are theirs in virtue of their secular condition, 47 but also of those tasks and functions which are not exclusively theirs.
Some of these latter refer to any member of the faithful, whether ordained or not, 48 while others are considered along the lines of collaboration with the sacred ministry of cleric. Rather, they are "capable of being admitted by the sacred Pastors Therefore a consistent, faithful and serious application of the current canonical dispositions throughout the entire Church, while avoiding the abuse of multiplying "exceptional" cases over and above those so designated and regulated by normative discipline, is extremely necessary.
In particular, they will apply the established disciplinary norms to promote knowledge of and assiduous respect for that distinction and complementarity of functions which are vital for ecclesial communion. Where abusive practices have become widespread, it is absolutely necessary for those who exercise authority to intervene responsibly so as to promote communion which can only be done by adherence to the truth.
Communion, truth, justice, peace and charity are all interdependent terms. The terminological question becomes even more complex and delicate when all the faithful are recognized as having the possibility of supplying-by official deputation given by the Pastors-certain functions more proper to clerics, which, nevertheless, do not require the character of Orders.
The officia temporarily entrusted to them, however, are exclusively the result of a deputation by the Church. However, when the term is distinguished from and compared with the various munera and officia, then it should be clearly noted that only in virtue of sacred ordination does the work obtain that full, univocal meaning that tradition has attributed to it.
Naturally, the concrete term may be applied to those to whom functions are canonically entrusted e. 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".
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. 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.
Canon 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 or a faculty such as enjoyed by priests and deacons. 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.
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. 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.
The homily, being an eminent form of preaching, qua per anni liturgici cursum ex textu sacro fidei mysteria et normae vitae christianae exponuntia, 68 also forms part of the liturgy. The homily, therefore, during the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, must be reserved to the sacred minister, Priest or Deacon 69 to the exclusion of the non-ordained faithful, even if these should have responsibilities as "pastoral assistants" or catechists in whatever type of community or group.
This exclusion is not based on the preaching ability of sacred ministers nor their theological preparation, but on that function which is reserved to them in virtue of having received the Sacrament of Holy Orders. For the same reason the diocesan Bishop cannot validly dispense from the canonical norm 70 since this is not merely a disciplinary law but one which touches upon the closely connected functions of teaching and sanctifying.
For the same reason, the practice, on some occasions, of entrusting the preaching of the homily to seminarians or theology students who are not clerics 71 is not permitted.
Indeed, the homily should not be regarded as a training for some future ministry. A form of instruction designed to promote a greater understanding of the liturgy, including personal testimonies, or the celebration of eucharistic liturgies on special occasions e. Nonetheless, these testimonies or explanations may not be such so as to assume a character which could be confused with the homily.
As an expositional aide and providing it does not delegate the duty of preaching to others, the celebrant minister may make prudent use of "dialogue" in the homily, in accord with the liturgical norms. Homilies in non-eucharistic liturgies may be preached by the non-ordained faithful only when expressly permitted by law and when its prescriptions for doing so are observed.
In no instance may the homily be entrusted to priests or deacons who have lost the clerical state or who have abandoned the sacred ministry. The right understanding and application of this canon, according to which "si ob sacerdotum penuriam Episcopus dioecesanus aestimaverit participationem in exercitio curae pastoralis paroeciae concredendam esse diacono aliive personae sacerdotali charactere non insignate aut personarum communitati, sacerdotem constitat aliquem qui, potestatibus facultatibus parochi instructus curam pastoralem moderetur", requires that this exceptional provision be used only with strict adherence to conditions contained in it.
These are: a ob sacerdotum penuriam and not for reasons of convenience or ambiguous "advancement of the laity", etc.
Posted by Brian Williams Many Catholic faithful over the last forty years have seen the all too common utilization of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion during the Mass. Sadly, this modern practice has contributed greatly to the blurring of lines between the sanctuary and the nave, as well as between the ordained and the laity. How is that for an arbitrary standard? What has of course happened in the ensuing decades since this provision was made is a long history of liturgical excesses and abuses. As is often the case, the exception has now become the norm.
On Facilitating Reception of Communion in Certain Circumstances
Collaborare non significa infatti sostituire. Questo, dopo essersi riferito agli obblighi e diritti di tutti i fedeli 46 , nel titolo successivo, dedicato agli obblighi e diritti dei fedeli laici, tratta non solo di quelli specifici della loro condizione secolare 47 , ma anche di altri compiti o funzioni a loro non pertinenti in modo esclusivo. Di questi, alcuni spettano a qualsiasi fedele sia ordinato che non ordinato 48 , altri invece si collocano sulla linea di diretto servizio al sacro ministero dei fedeli ordinati. Qualora, in qualche luogo, si verifichino abusi e prassi trasgressive, i Pastori mettano in atto i mezzi necessari ed opportuni per impedire tempestivamente la loro diffusione e per evitare che venga danneggiata la corretta comprensione della natura stessa della Chiesa. Alla luce dei principi ora ricordati, si indicano qui appresso gli opportuni rimedi per far fronte agli abusi segnalati ai nostri Dicasteri. Le disposizioni che seguono sono desunte dalla normativa della Chiesa.
IMMENSAE CARITATIS PDF
The People of God participate in this call through the dynamic of an organic communion in accord with their diverse ministeries and charisms. The call has been forcefully repeated in the documents of the Magisterium, particularly since the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council 1 and thereafter. This is especially true of the last three General Ordinary Assemblies of the Synod of Bishops which reaffirmed the particular identities of the lay faithful and of sacred ministers and religious, in their proper dignity and diversity of functions. These Assemblies encouraged all the faithful to build up the Church by collaborating, in communion, for the salvation of the world.