View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Lay preacher reined in

Back in September, I wrote about a lay preacher in our parish. In permitting her to preach regularly at the time of the homily, the pastor was violating Church norms.

I spoke with the pastor and parish staff, but to no avail.

I finally called the Diocese of Rochester. I spoke with an official who confirmed that my interpretation of the norms was correct, and that she should not be preaching. I was told that the pastor would be contacted and told this was not permitted.

She has not preached since.

It seems to me pretty clear that diocesan officials, contacted politely and respectfully, addressed an abuse that until my call they did not know about (that was certainly the impression I got during the conversation with the diocesan official).

Maybe some of those other alleged abuses out there would also be addressed if the Diocese was approached in an appropriate manner and made aware of them.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

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6:52 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

I suspect the way they got around it was by having a priest speak first, then the lay preacher - which to me still violates the norms. I don't know the circumstnaces in the situations you cite, though. Certainly a lay person cannot participate in the homily if that means preach the homily. Poor word choice on the parish's part? I don't know.

But remember, diocesan officals do not read every bulletin or hear every announcement. They need people to let them know - and are probably more likely to respond positively when the problem is raised respectfully and not shoved in their faces.

In my case, I spoke with the director of Parish Support Ministries, Bernard Grizard. The Diocese was between Liturgy Office directors at the time - I don't know if they have someone now.

7:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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7:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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7:23 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Lay people can receive permission to speak under certain circumstances - that's in the norms. The homily part is the problem - they are not permitted to preach the homily or at the time of the homily. With the priest speaking first, that's a way of fudging the rules (one with which I don't agree).

I'm sure some canonists would be better versed in such matters than I.

7:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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7:32 PM  
Blogger Rich Leonardi said...

Lee and Dr. K.,

The priest-first fudge is contrary to the Holy See's instructions in Redemptionis Sacramentum:

If the need arises for the gathered faithful to be given instruction or testimony by a layperson in a Church concerning the Christian life, it is altogether preferable that this be done outside Mass. Nevertheless, for serious reasons it is permissible that this type of instruction or testimony be given after the Priest has proclaimed the Prayer after Communion. This should not become a regular practice, however. Furthermore, these instructions and testimony should not be of such a nature that they could be confused with the homily, nor is it permissible to dispense with the homily on their account.

Zenit's Fr. McNamara took up this theme in an informative article a few years ago:

The problem is that Bishop Clark has added confusion to the subject (I'm being generous) by informing parishioners that members of the laity may preach at Mass. See this link:

More discussion here:

12:44 PM  
Blogger japhy said...

Bishop Clark's interpretation of Ecclesia de Mysterio Art. 3, ยง 3 is fallacious.

"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."

Rich, I see you've already pointed this out on your blog. Has this ever been pointed out to the Bishop?

2:53 PM  
Blogger japhy said...

Oh, and the quote from Ecclesia de Mysterio which allows for dialogue in the homily, says that such use must be "in accord with the liturgical norms" with a footnote. The footnote is:

Cf. Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, Directory for Masses with children Pueros Baptizatos (1 Nov. 1973), n. 48: AAS 66 (1974), p. 44.

Pueros Baptizatos n. 48 reads: "The homily explaining the word of God should be given great prominence in all Masses with children. Sometimes the homily intended for children should become a dialogue with them, unless it is preferred that they should listen in silence."

Dialogue in the homily, then, is only permitted for Masses where children make up the vast majority of the assembly, and the dialogue is then understood to be a "conversation" (question-and-answer) with them, not an "introduction" by the priest followed by an "exposition" by a layman.

I'm sending this to Bishop Clark.

8:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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12:44 AM  
Blogger japhy said...

Done and done. I've emailed it to the address found on this page:

Actually, that's only half-true. The contact at the bottom of the page is:

Bernard Grizard, Diocesan Director
Parish Support Ministries
585.328.3210 ext. 1328

But the email address itself is a link to I emailed

If you have a better email address for me to send it to, let me know.

7:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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11:22 AM  
Blogger japhy said...

As a Catholic from a whole other state (NJ), would it make any sense for me to write a "letter to the editor" to some Rochester diocesan paper? Or perhaps ghost-write such a letter for someone in the Rochester diocese?

11:29 AM  

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