Archbishop Hart's Lector
Archbishop Hart has published on the internet his homily of
6 October 2002 when he instituted Paul Pavlou as a lector.
I was disappointed when I heard it, but did not want to criticise
it from memory when I discussed the ceremony on 7 October.
The instructions in the Roman Pontifical for the homily are:
"4. Then all sit, and the bishop gives the homily, which
he concludes by speaking to the candidates in these or similar
Dear sons in Chirst, through his Son, who became man for
us, God the Father has revealed the mystery of salvation and
brought it to fulfillment. Jesus Christ made all things known
to us and then entrusted his Church with the mission of preaching
the Gospel to the whole world.
As readers and bearers of God's word, you will assist in
this mission, and so take on a special office within the Christian
community; you will be given a responsibility in the service
of the faith, which is rooted in the word of God. You will proclaim
that word in the liturgical assembly, instruct children and adults
in the faith, and prepare them to receive the sacraments worthily.
You will bring the message of salvation to those who have not
yet received it. Thus with your help men and women will come
to know God our Father and his Son Jesus Christ, whom he sent,
and so be able to reach eternal life.
In proclaiming God's word to others, accept it yourselves
in obedience to the Holy Spirit. Meditate on it constantly, so
that each day you will have a deeper love of the Scriptures,
and in all you say and do show forth to the world our Savior,
Jesus Christ." (The Rites Volume Two, Liturgical Press,
Minnesota, 1991, page 104).
Archbishop Hart's homily did not have these or similar words.
The Ceremonial of Bishops has: "These ministries may be
assigned to lay Christians and are no longer to be considered
as reserved to candidates for the sacrament of orders."
But Archbishop Hart said:
"...These are important steps for the priesthood for
both of them and they emphasise the growing awareness of the
Lord's call given to them.
Since the Second Vatican Council, thirty-nine years ago, God's
people have received a richer fare at the table of God's Word.
There has flourished in our dioceses and parishes an increasing
number of men and women who have come forth from the people of
God to read the Word of God and indeed to be nourished by it.
This development and use of lay readers has taken place throughout
the Church and is highlighted in the public Masses which Pope
John Paul II has celebrated in the Vatican and in his many journeys
throughout the world. Consonant with this practice in the dioceses
of Australia, in the English-speaking world and beyond, the practice
has been for the instituted ministry of lector to be conferred
only on students for the priesthood and for as long as they remain
on the journey to the priesthood.
Paul, as a reader, will be given a responsibility in the service
of the faith to proclaim the Word in the liturgical assembly
to instruct children and adults. Paul, you are to accept it yourself
in obedience to the Holy Spirit, meditate on it constantly, so
that each day you will have a deeper love of the Scriptures.
What is this changing?
1. It is clearly making it a step to the priesthood rather
than a ministry in itself.
2. Rather than saying "you are a catechist" or "instruct
children and adults in the faith" he is saying "when
you read you are teaching".
3. Rather than making it an office with permanence Archbishop
Hart is effectively saying with this homily: "you are only
an Instituted Lector while you in my seminary". This is
inconsisent with, for example, the Catechism of the Catholic
"903. Lay people who possess the required qualities can
be admitted permanently to the ministries of lector and acolyte.
I see this as a significant and public departure by Archbishop
Hart to faithfully follow the liturgical books, as required by
Canon 846 of the Code of Canon Law.
When I was instituted as a lector by Archbishop Pell on 27
February 2000 I believe the proper homily was used from the Roman
I think its sad that a requirement for ordination in Melbourne
is to participate in a ceremony that does not faithfully follow
the liturgical books, the Catechism and the Code of Canon Law.
Update 21 June 2004
I have noticed another error in Archbishop Hart's statement: "the practice has been for the instituted ministry of lector to be conferred only on students for the priesthood and for as long as they remain on the journey to the priesthood."
Those training to be Permanent Deacons are not on the journey to the priesthood. But according to canon 1035: "Before anyone may be promoted to the diaconate, whether permanent or transitory, he must have received the ministries of lector and acolyte, and have exercised them for an appropriate time."
By J.R. Lilburne, 21 October 2002. Updated 21 June 2004. Link to homily updated 1 November 2004. I give what I have written on this page to the public domain. Extract from The Code of Canon Law - New Revised English Tranlsation, Harper Collins Publishers, 1997.