LEFEBVRE and the
for Priestless Sundays
Outlined in Vatican Document
reported in The Beacon (July 7, 1988)
document upon which this New Jersey (US) newspaper reports was
issued on the same day as Archbishop Lefebvre was consecrating
bishops at Ecône. While the Vatican was providing for the
absence of priests, Archbishop Lefebvre was providing for the
continuation of the priesthood.
too few priests to celebrate the necessary Sunday Masses should
develop programs by which deacons or appointed lay people lead Sunday
prayer services, according to a new Vatican document.
The most preferable
service is a Liturgy of the Word followed by distribution of Communion
with previously consecrated hosts, says the document, prepared by
the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship.
of parishes and church centers without a priest to celebrate Sunday
Mass is worldwide and affects mission countries as well as developed
countries, said Msgr. Pere Tena, undersecretary of the congregation,
at a June 30 Vatican press conference. The document,
issued in Italian, was dated June 2.
said the directory was prepared at the request of numerous bishops’
conferences asking for guidelines in the preparation of their programs.
programs already in existence in many countries. In
the United States the situation is known as “priestless Sundays.”
directory gives local bishops or bishops’ conferences the power
to determine whether in their jurisdictions the priest shortage
is leaving church communities without Sunday Masses for long periods
of time. It is also up to the bishops to determine
if the distance to the nearest Sunday Mass is too great for their
priestless parishes and church centers.
bishop is also authorized to appoint and train lay people as acolytes,
readers and special ministers of the Eucharist to aid the deacon
or to conduct the service if no deacon is available.
Vatican rules, lay people are not authorized to preach a homily.
However, they can read homilies prepared by priests, the
the service must be made aware that the Mass is still the primary
church liturgical ceremony and that they should make every effort
to attend Sunday Masses, the directory says.
To avoid confusion
between the prayer service and the Mass, “there can be no insertion
in the celebration of that which is proper to the Mass, above all
the presentation of gifts and of the eucharistic hosts,” it says.
must be aware that the hosts distributed were consecrated by a priest
during a Mass, it adds.
of the Word should use prayers and Bible readings from the corresponding
Sunday Mass, it says. Bishops may substitute other
church-approved prayer services such as vespers and have the power
to make modifications in prayer services, but this should be kept
to a minimum, the directory says.
Courtesy of the Angelus
Press, Regina Coeli House
2918 Tracy Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64109