ZE02092301 - 2002-09-23
When greeting a group of bishops from western Brazil in Rome for their once-every-five-year visit, the Pope said in his address that today there is a "confusion of functions," which originates in erroneous theological interpretations.
"Among the objectives of the liturgical reform, established by Vatican Council II, was the need to have all the faithful participate in liturgical ceremonies," the Holy Father told the bishops Saturday.
"However, in practice, in the years following the council, in order to fulfill this desire, the confusion of functions in regard to the priestly ministry and role of the laity was arbitrarily extended," he explained.
Symptoms of this confusion are "the indiscriminate and common recitation of the Eucharistic Prayer," "homilies given by lay people" and the "distribution of Communion by the laity."
These "grave abuses often originated in doctrinal errors, especially in regard to the nature of the liturgy, of the common priesthood of Christians, of the vocation and mission of the laity, but also in regard to the ordained ministry of priests," the Pope stressed.
The Holy Father said that one of the consequences of this phenomenon is "the lack of observance of certain ecclesiastical laws and norms, the arbitrary interpretation of the concept of 'substitution,' the tendency to 'clericalize' the laity, etc."
Although "the liturgy is the action of the whole Mystical Body of Christ, of his body and his members," it is true that "not everyone has the same function, because not everyone participates in the same way in the priesthood of Christ."
John Paul II confirmed that the faithful who are not ordained may "carry out some tasks and functions of cooperation in pastoral service" only "when they are expressly appointed by their respective consecrated pastors, in keeping with prescriptions of the law."
He clarified that the members "of the diocesan pastoral or parish council have only a consultative vote and, for this reason, may not be considered deliberative."
In this context, the Holy Father also referred to the "re-establishment of the permanent diaconate of married men," which "constitutes an important enrichment for the mission of the Church."
This service must "always be limited to the prescription the law, given that the exercise of full ministerial authority corresponds to priests," avoiding "ambiguities that might confuse the faithful, especially in liturgical celebrations."
"This method of distributing holy communion [directly from a priest, on tongue while kneeling] must be retained, taking the present situation of the Church in the entire world into account, not merely because it has many centuries of-tradition behind it, but especially because it expresses the faithful's reverence for the Eucharist. The custom does not detract in any way from the personal dignity of those who approach this great sacrament: it is part of that preparation that is needed for the most fruitful reception of the Body of the Lord.
This reverence shows that it is not a sharing in "ordinary bread and wine" that is involved, but in the Body and Blood of the Lord, through which "The people of God share the benefits of the Paschal Sacrifice, renew the New Covenant which God has made with man once for all through the Blood of Christ, and in faith and hope foreshadow and anticipate the eschatological banquet in the kingdom of the Father."
Further, the practice which must be considered traditional ensures, more effectively, that holy communion is distributed with the proper respect, decorum and dignity. It removes the danger of profanation of the sacred species, in which "in a unique way, Christ, God and man, is present whole and entire, substantially and continually." Lastly, it ensures that diligent carefulness about the fragments of consecrated bread which the Church has always recommended: "What you have allowed to drop, think of it as though you had lost one of your own members.""
Instruction on the Manner of Distributing Holy Communion
Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship
"There are several situations in which a shortage of ministers of communion has been pointed out:
—within Mass because of a great crowd of people or some disability of the celebrant;
—outside Mass when distance makes it difficult to bring communion, especially as viaticum to the sick in danger of death; or when the sheer number of sick people, especially in hospitals or similar institutions, requires several ministers.
In order, then, that the faithful who are in the state of grace and rightly and devoutly wish to share in the sacred meal may not be deprived of this sacramental aid and solace, Pope Paul VI has decided it opportune to authorize special ministers who will be empowered to give communion to themselves and others of the faithful, under the exact and specified conditions here listed.
I. Local Ordinaries possess the faculty enabling them to permit fit persons, each chosen by name as a special minister, in a given instance or for a set period or even permanently, to give communion to themselves and others of the faithful and to carry it to the sick residing at home:
a. whenever no priest, deacon, or acolyte is available;
b. whenever the same ministers are impeded from administering communion because of another pastoral ministry, ill-health, or old age;
c. whenever the number of faithful wishing to receive communion is so great that the celebration of Mass or the giving of communion outside Mass would take too long."
IMMENSAE CARITATIS—On Facilitating Reception Of Communion In Certain Circumstances
Sacred Congregation of the Sacraments
[158.] Indeed, the extraordinary minister of Holy Communion may administer Communion only when the Priest and Deacon are lacking, when the Priest is prevented by weakness or advanced age or some other genuine reason, or when the number of faithful coming to Communion is so great that the very celebration of Mass would be unduly prolonged. This, however, is to be understood in such a way that a brief prolongation, considering the circumstances and culture of the place, is not at all a sufficient reason.
On certain matters to be observed or to be avoided
regarding the Most Holy Eucharist
THE BOTTOM LINE
"A majority of adult Catholics, 57 percent, say their belief about the Eucharist is reflected best by the statement “Jesus Christ is really present in the bread and wine of the Eucharist,”
compared to 43 percent who said their belief is best reflected in the statement, “Bread and wine are symbols of Jesus, but Jesus is not really present.”"
Belief and Practice among U.S. Catholics
Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate
HOW'S THAT TWENTIETH CENTURY SPIRITUALITY - THE SPIRIT OF VATICAN II DOING?