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Lectors in the Sanctuary

I am pleased with an article in Zenit on 22 June 2004. Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University consider the question "Should Lectors sit in the Pews?".

In answering he highlights that an instituted lector is the proper person to proclaim the readings. "When someone substitutes an instituted lector, he or she substitutes another layperson and does so in all cases that an instituted minister is lacking."

This follows the example that an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion "supplements the lack of clergy and exercises this ministry only when strictly necessary."

I am delighted by the publicity being given to the following parts of the 2002 General Instruction of the Roman Missal:

"GIRM 99 states: "In the Eucharistic Celebration, the lector has his own proper office (cf. below, nos. 194-198), which he must exercise personally." ... GIRM 101 states: "In the absence of an instituted lector, other laypersons may be commissioned to proclaim the readings from Sacred Scripture.""

I was concerned by this part of his article of 4 May 2004: "Readers follow similar criteria to acolytes although since their ministry is briefer they may enter the sanctuary only to exercise it and leave afterward ...". This seemed to contradict 2002 GIRM 195: "Then the lector takes his own place in the sanctuary with the other ministers."

But the 22 June article corrects and clarifies his position:

"In this way I believe that the rule of GIRM 195 applies above all to instituted lectors who should have a place in the sanctuary from which they carry out their assigned ministry."

And: "Thus, designated or commissioned readers may have a place in the sanctuary but may also enter from the pews."

I hope this article stops the substitution of instituted lectors, when they are present. I believe that there will now be wider recognition of the instruction that instituted lectors should sit in the sanctuary.

By J.R. Lilburne, 23 June, 2004. I give what I have written on this page to the public domain.

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Father McNamara's article of 22 June 2004

Article of 4 May 2004