CD102 Essay of 2000 words due 24 October 2000, by John Lilburne.
What do you consider to be the major developments in the theology of the "laity" in the Church today? Why? What are the areas you think still need development.
Major developments in the theology of the "laity" relate to the role of the laity in the Church. These developments are clearly illustrated in the changing role of the laity in the official Church instructions on liturgy.
In the conclusion to Dominicae Cenae (24 February 1980), Pope John Paul II wrote:
In some places there has been poor implementation of the official instructions. To an extent this due to ignorance and reluctance to change, which will gradually be corrected through education. However it can also indicate areas of uncertainity and dispute, in the theology of the laity, needing further development. In examining the role of the laity in the Church, particular attention is given to the role of the laity as liturgical ministers.
The essay discusses:
The Role of the Laity in Vatican II
Vatican II did not authorise a sharp division of labour between clergy and laity. The decree on the Aposolate of the Laity, Apostolicam actuositatem, exhorts lay persons "to exercise their apostolate both in the Church and in the world, in both the spiritual and temporal orders" (AA 5).[Footnote1: Avery Dulles, The Reshaping of Catholicism (San Francisco, Harper and Row, 1988) 27.]
In Sacrosanctum Concilium (1963) the term "minister" seemed to exclude the laity, in n 28:
However in Sacrosanctum Concilium 35(3) there is some ambiguity:
The term "proper minister" could be seen as referring to a deacon or a lay commentator.
Ministers in the 1970 Roman Missal
The 1970 Roman Missal used the term "minister" to refer to altar servers, rather than for the priest himself. The description of the Mass made at least one minister compulsory [Footnote 2: 1970 Roman Missal, General Instruction, n. 77. Documents on the Liturgy, (Minnesota, Liturgical Press, 1982) 489.]. In particular, two tasks were not to be performed by the celebrant, but by a minister:
- Taking the corporal, chalice, Missal, and purificator from the side table and placing them on the altar.
- Pouring water on the priest's hands when he washed them. [Footnote 3: 1970 Roman Missal, General Instruction, n. 100 and 106.]
1972 - Instituted Ministers
The conferral of ministries "will not be called ordination, but institution." However:
The changes were incorporated in the 1975 Roman Missal.
In 1980, one commentator wrote:
1988 Christifideles Laici
In 1983 the changes were included in the Code of Canon Law, as discussed in the 1988 Apostolic Exhortation, Christifideles Laici, n 23:
In the context, the statement that a person is a minister "through sacramental ordination" is remarkable. The term "ordination" instead of "institution" is used for "minister" - which refers to acolytes and readers in the previous sentence. Possibly, in relating the instituted ministers to ordination there is the development of a justification for the exclusion of women.
Concerns about the instituted ministers in the 1987 Synod of Bishops are expressed in Christifideles Laici, n 23:
Evidently there was a lack of consensus at the Synod, with some wanting to restrict the term "ministry" to ordained ministers. According to Bishop Jaramillo, of Columbia, it was important "to underlie the difference that exists between the ministries conferred on the laity, and those which the candidate for the priesthood receives." [Footnote 6: Peter Coughlan, The Hour of the Laity, (Australia, E.J. Dwyer, 1989) 77.]
1997 Ecclesia de mysterio
The results of this Commission seemed to come to light on 15 August 1997 with the publication of Ecclesia de mysterio [Footnote 7: The English title is: Instruction on certain questions regarding the collaboration of the non-ordained faithful in the sacred ministry of priests.]. Following a discussion of the term ministry, Article 1.3 says:
This confirms that acolytes and lectors are called "ministers". It seems that after the Synod Fathers request for a reconsideration, the conclusion is to retain these ministries.
Women in Liturgical Ministry
A likely area of development is the institution of women to these ministries. The role of women in liturgy has developed, as shown in the following extracts from documents of the liturgical reform.
1969 Instruction Fidei custos, on special ministers to administer communion: "A woman of outstanding piety may be chosen in cases of necessity, that is, whenever another fit person cannot be found."[Footnote 8: Documents on the Liturgy, (Minnesota, Liturgical Press, 1982) 643.] This was changed in 1973: "The fit person referred to ... will be designated according to the order of this listing (which may be changed at the prudent discretion of the local Ordinary): reader, major seminarian, man religious, woman religious, catechist, one of the faithful - a man or a woman."[Footnote 9: Documents on the Liturgy, (Minnesota, Liturgical Press, 1982) 651.]
1970 Roman Missal, General Instruction, n 66: "The conference of bishops may grant that when there is no man present capable of carrying out the reader's function, a suitable woman, standing outside the sanctuary, may proclaim the readings preceding the gospel."
1975 Roman Missal, General Instruction, n 70: "At the discretion of the rector of the church, women may be appointed to ministries that are performed outside the sanctuary. The conference of bishops may permit qualified women to proclaim the readings before the gospel and to announce the intentions of the general intercessions. The conference may also more precisely designate a suitable place for a woman to proclaim the word of God in the liturgical assembly."
11 July 1992 - An authentic interpretation of the Pontifical Council for the interpretation of Legislative Texts clarified that canon 230.2 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law permits females as well as males to exercise the liturgical function of altar server. [Footnote 10: John Huels, The Pastoral Companion, (Franciscan Press, 1995) 87.]
2000 Roman Missal, General Instruction, n 107: "The liturgical functions which are not proper to the priest or the deacon, and which are listed above (nos. 100-106[Footnote 11: These paragraphs excludes instituted acolytes and readers, but allows the performance of many of their functions in their absence. Also included are the roles of cantor, sacristan, commentator, taking up the collection, usher and Master of Ceremonies.]), may be entrusted to suitable laity chosen by the pastor or rector of the church through a liturgical blessing or a temporary deputation. The function of altar servers is regulated by norms established by the Bishop for his diocese."[Footnote 12: Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani July 2000: An English Language Study Translation (Washington, Secretariat for the Liturgy of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2000) page 23, n 107.] This document removed the description of functions "outside the sanctuary". There is no longer to be reading outside the sanctuary, since the new description of the sanctuary is "the place where the altar stands, the word of God is proclaimed ...".[Footnote13: ibid, page 48, n 295.]
Problems of "male only" Instituted Ministers
Since the functions of the instituted acolyte and lector can be performed by women it seems to be an anomaly that they cannot be instituted to these ministries.
In Christifideles Laici, n 49, the Pope quotes two propositions of the Synod fathers:
A commentary on the Code of Canon Law discusses problems with the instituted ministers, including:
Women's Ordination and Women's Institution
According to the 1999 report, Women and Man:
The issues of "women's ordination" and "women's institution" are only related by outdated terminology. What today would be termed "institution to the ministry of acolyte" would have been called, 30 years ago: "ordination as a subdeacon". Indeed, according to the 1972 motu propiro "There is, however, no reason why the acolyte cannot be called a subdeacon in some places, at the discretion of the conference of bishops." [Footnote 16: Documents on the Liturgy, (Minnesota, Liturgical Press, 1982) page 909, n IV.]
In an introduction to Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, on reserving priestly ordination to men alone, Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in 1996:
However he later explains why ordination is restricted to men alone:
This would not justify, however, reserving the institution to the ministries of reader and acolyte to men alone. The Church teaches that it is not sacrament, but a sacramental. [Footnote 19: Catechism of the Catholic Church Second Edition (NSW, St Pauls, 2000) page 416, n 1672.]
The Embarrassment of Instituted Ministers
The Church seems to be embarrassed about this issue. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, n 903 teaches: "Lay people who possess the required qualities can be admitted permanently to the ministries of lector and acolyte. (Footnote 436: Cf. CIC, can. 230.1)." It is not mentioned that Canon 230.1 refers only to "lay men" - "Viri laici" .
A distinguishing feature of instituted readers is that they must wear vestments. According to the 1981 General Introduction to the Lectionary for Mass, LM 54:
Those opposed to instituted ministers could go as far as to not obey:
But it is difficult to see how regularly breaking Church law could successfully continue for long. If such a strategy were followed with seminarians, few would be prepared to take the Oath of Fidelity, required for ordination, which includes:
According to John Huels in 1995 instituted ministry "is conferred only rarely on anyone in North America except for seminarians preparing for the priesthood and candidates for permanent diaconate."[Footnote 22: John Huels, The Pastoral Companion, (Franciscan Press, 1995) 87.]
There has been considerable reluctance to implement the institution of lay ministers. Perhaps for the "progressives" they are an unfair discrimination against women and the establishment of hierarchy. The "conservatives" seem reluctant to promote them, concerned that they are a radical change that will undermine the role of the clergy.
For example in 1987 Monsignor Cormac Burke wrote:
However they are a part of the liturgical renewal and the 1983 Canon Law, so to undermine them is to undermine the Church's renewal and law.
The role of the laity as instituted ministers show recent developments in the theology of the laity. The liturgy is an important and public part of the Church's activity. Developments of the role of the laity in liturgy, particularly of women, are paralleled by other changes in the way the laity participate in the Church.
Burke, Cormac. Freedom and Authority in the Church . San Francisco, Ignatius Press, 1988.
Coriden, J., Green T. and Heintschell, D. The Code of Canon Law: A Text and Commentary. USA, Paulist Press, Canon Law Society of America, 1985.
Coughlan, Peter.The Hour of the Laity. Australia, E.J. Dwyer, 1989.
Dulles, Avery.The Reshaping of Catholicism . San Francisco, Harper and Row, 1988.
Huels, John.The Pastoral Companion. USA, Franciscan Press, 1995.
MacDonald, Marie et al. Woman and Man - One in Christ Jesus: Report on the Participation of Women in the Catholic Church in Australia . Sydney, Harper Collins, 1999.
Power, David.Gifts that Differ: Lay ministries established and unestablished . New York, Pueblo, 1980.
Catechism of the Catholic Church -Second Edition. NSW, St Pauls, 2000.
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, From "Inter Insigniores" to "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis"-Documents and Commentaries. Washington, United States Catholic Conference, 1998.
Documents on the Liturgy. Minnesota, Liturgical Press, 1982.
Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani July 2000: An English Language Study Translation. Washington, Secretariat for the Liturgy of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2000.
Lectionary Vol 1. Sydney, Collins, 1983.Copyright J.R. Lilburne, revised 2 April 2001.