Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis
With regard to lay ministries I am disappointed with this 2007 Apostolic Exhortation.
The propositions from the Synod were encouraging. To quote extracts from them:
But the Apostolic Exhortation did not build on these themes. It had little to say about lay ministries and what it did say is likely to give readers mistaken understandings of them.
The word "ministries" is only used four times. Three times is in the following confusing passage, from n. 53:
"Associated with these ministries linked to the sacrament of Holy Orders, there are also other ministries of liturgical service which can be carried out in a praiseworthy manner by religious and properly trained laity. Footnote 162:
The likely confusion: two references to documents including instituted ministers, along with a proposition "Their appointment must be for a limited term."
The institution of acolytes and lectors is not for a limited term. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "903. Lay people who possess the required qualities can be admitted permanently to the ministries of lector and acolyte."
Does Propositon 33 suggest they become temporary? No. It is not referring to instituted ministers, but to other ministries in other parts of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal. Here is the full proposition from Zenit, with the paragraphs arranged as they are in Italian at www.vatican.va. The part in the Apostolic Exhortation is in bold:
The ministries being referred to are those in 2002 GIRM n. 103-107. They can be looked up at romanrite.com/girm . It does not include instituted lectors or instituted acolytes which are in n. 98 and n. 99. Instead it is referring to the choir, musicians, cantor, sacristan, commentator, collectors, ushers, master of ceremonies and (in n. 107 which refers to n 100-106) readers who are not instituted, altar servers and psalmists.
The translation to English also seems to add to the confusion. The Zenit translation has "The persons in charge of these lay liturgical services must be carefully chosen, ...". The Italian is "Le persone incaricate di questi servizi liturgici laicali devono essere scelte accuratamente ...". At Babel Fish it gave me the translation: "The persons people in charge of these laicali liturgici services must accurately be chosen, ...". But in the Apostolic Exhortation it is: "Those entrusted with these liturgical services must be chosen with care ...". I do not know Italian. But it seems that intention was to refer to someone like the head of the choir, but it became, in English, anyone entrusted with a ministry.
Another message than seems a little lost in translation is the section "Respect for the Liturgical Books and the Richness of Signs", n. 40:
"... The eucharistic celebration is enhanced when priests and liturgical leaders are committed to making known the current liturgical texts and norms, making available the great riches found in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and the Order of Readings for Mass. Perhaps we take it for granted that our ecclesial communities already know and appreciate these resources, but this is not always the case. ..."
People will not find a book called "Order of Readings for Mass". It is called the Lectionary, and I guess it means its Introduction or Praenotanda. (Important instructions about instituted lectors in numbers 51 and 54.) It also has the wrong title for the book in Latin, with "atque Ordinis Lectionum Missae." The correct title is Ordo Lectionum Missae.
So it seems to prove the point of how little "our ecclesial communities already know and appreciate these resources".
By J.R. Lilburne, 19 March 2007. I give what I have written on this page to the public domain.