Skip to comments.After four decades, Rochester eliminates lay preaching at Mass
Posted on 07/21/2014 11:50:13 AM PDT by NYer
I’m frankly surprised that this has been going on for so long.
For the better part of 40 years in churches across the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester, clergy ceded the floor to laypeople for the delivery of the homily the sermon that follows the reading of the Gospel at Mass.
The practice, which dated to the mid-1970s and was simultaneously derided by the faithful for running afoul of church law and praised for its inclusiveness, has come to an end.
In an extensive interview, Bishop Salvatore Matano said he has been confronting the issue on a case-by-case basis since his installation in January and is now drafting guidelines to clarify that homilies are reserved for ordained priests and deacons, as prescribed by canon law.
“It is not a policy shift as regards to the universal law of the church,” Matano said. “I am trying to help the faithful understand what is the universal law of the church and how important it is that in the celebration of Mass, we do what the church asks of us.”
The reversal is perhaps the starkest example yet of the contrasting stewardship of Matano with his predecessor, Bishop Matthew Clark, under whom the diocese earned a reputation as among the most liberal in the country.
Although laypeople were giving the homily before Clark’s time as bishop, it was during his tenure from 1979 to 2012 that such preaching blossomed into a regular occurrence in multiple churches.
Matano called the ubiquity of the practice “a bit perplexing” and attributed it to a misinterpretation of canon law.
“In the life of the church today, there are many interpretations that people might give to a particular ruling with no malintent present, but that do need clarification,” Matano said.
Many in the church have welcomed the shift as a long-awaited return to doctrine. Indeed, Matano said he began addressing the matter in response to complaints from parishioners.
But it also has been received with disappointment, particularly among women, who made up the majority of lay homilists and viewed the practice as a way to play a more active role in their faith.
“It really enriched me, and I have to say I’m struggling with it,” said Diane Porcelli of Gates, who did not preach but is active at St. Mary’s Church in downtown Rochester. “It’s challenging my faith and I’m struggling with the exclusion.”
It is estimated that 20 women, most of them pastoral administrators or associates in the diocese with divinity and theology degrees, comprised the bulk of lay homilists.
Thank you Bishop Matano for putting an end to this outrageous nonsense. Ping!
The 70’s was an ugly decade. A lot of really perverted stuff got ensconced in our culture during that time.
Mainly women who prefer comfortable shoes.
That's called "burying the lede."
The goal was to lay groundwork for female "priests."
Then they should find themselves a 'church' without laws.
That the Bishop is able to pull this off without attributing malice to anyone is fascinating.
Still, something to be thankful for. As someone who spent three years in the diocese, thanks be to God. And Clark wasn’t all bad—he even excommunicated one of his own priests, who certainly had it coming.
Bingo! Bishop Clark even went so far as to pull a priest from one parish and replace him with a female lay administrator. A local radio station posted the following article when the appointment of Bishop Matano was made.
Bishop Matano, who has been described as strongly orthodox and loyal to Church teaching, will replace Bishop Matthew Clark who has long been considered one of the most liberal and, in some cases, anti-Rome prelates in the United States.
Clarks stands in favor of women priests, his pro-gay stances and other positions in opposition to Church teaching placed him on a list of troublesome bishops in Rome.
Bishop Matano, on the other hand, is seen as a son of the Church to use a term recently made famous by Pope Francis and his appointment could pose a problem for the many liberals who surrounded Clark. During Clarks tenure there was a sharp drop off in priestly vocations and Rochester is second only to Las Vegas in lack of annual priestly ordinations.
Only after the order came from the Vatican. What got Rev. James Callan into trouble with church officials were practices that went far beyond the norm in Roman Catholicism: blessing homosexual unions, allowing non-Catholics to receive Communion during Mass, and having his pastoral associate, Mary Ramerman, wear priest-like vestments and help officiate in the celebration of the Eucharist.
huh....I had always thought it was a universal rule that a Priest or Deacon must give the Homily.
Only break from that I’d ever seen was a priest with a very bad back who was obviously in some pain who had asked a nun to deliver it for him. Immediately a number of people ran to me, a lowly usher, to complain this was against the rules.
Personally I came down on the side of compassion for the suffering on that one. But I can see how as a regular rule you don’t want just anybody giving Homilies.
Of course they went far beyond the norm—one has to be truly outstanding to get excommunicated now days, but even Clark had some limits. I imagine that there were Bishops (and maybe are in Quebec and certain parts of Europe) who wouldn’t have even done that. And imagine if Callan had been a bishop . . . well, maybe that isn’t a good idea.
From all I’ve heard, Sheen was actually part of the problem—personally Holy, but a lousy administrator and a bad judge of administrative character. He lost control of the chancery, and it was all downhill from there.
Maybe there is hope yet, although this clearly was not the most egregious abuse (IMO) around.
GENERAL INSTRUCTION OF THE ROMAN MISSAL
INSTITUTIO GENERALIS MISSALIS ROMANI
A Witness to Unchanged Faith (2 - 5)
A Witness to Unbroken Tradition (6 - 9)
Accommodation to New Conditions (10 - 15)
65. The homily is part of the Liturgy and is strongly recommended, for it is necessary for the nurturing of the Christian life. It should be an exposition of some aspect of the readings from Sacred Scripture or of another text from the Ordinary or from the Proper of the Mass of the day and should take into account both the mystery being celebrated and the particular needs of the listeners.
66. The homily should ordinarily be given by the priest celebrant himself. He may entrust it to a con-celebrating priest or occasionally, according to circumstances, to the deacon, but never to a lay person. In particular cases and for a just cause, the homily may even be given by a Bishop or a priest who is present at the celebration but cannot con-celebrate.
There is to be a homily on Sundays and holy days of obligation at all Masses that are celebrated with the participation of a congregation; it may not be omitted without a serious reason. It is recommended on other days, especially on the weekdays of Advent, Lent, and the Easter Season, as well as on other festive days and occasions when the people come to church in greater numbers.
After the homily a brief period of silence is appropriately observed.
CAN LAYPEOPLE GIVE THE HOMILY?
No. The Code of Canon Law states,
Among the forms of preaching the homily is preeminent; it is a part of the liturgy itself and is reserved to a priest or to a deacon; in the homily the mysteries of faith and the norms of Christian living are to be expounded from the sacred text throughout the course of the liturgical year. Whenever a congregation is present a homily is to be given at all Sunday Masses and at Masses celebrated on holy days of obligation; it cannot be omitted without a serious reason. (canon 767)
Furthermore, the instruction Inaestimabile Donum, issued by the Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship and approved by Pope John Paul II on April 17, 1980 also condemns the practice you describe. Among the liturgical abuses condemned in the foreword of this document is “homilies given by lay people.” Under the section on the Mass, subsection 3 states that “The purpose of the homily is to explain to the faithful the Word of God proclaimed in the readings, and to apply its message to the present. Accordingly the homily is to be given by the priest or the deacon.”
I can only hope that Bishop Matano’s (long awaited) successor can continue the work he started here (yes, we’re getting impatient).
I'm guessing, from your comment, that you have not followed the illicit practices that took place in Rochester, during those 4 decades under the reign of Bishop Clark. The "hope" has arrived in the form of Bishop Matano. He was installed in January, made a pastoral visit to the parishes and has now taken up the broom to begin sweeping away the mess left behind by his predecessor. This is good news!
See my post #21.
The decade I grew up in. I am not dating myself.
Ditto here. My entire grade school years were wholly within the 70's. There was still much residual moral capital in society even then, but the Left was making major inroads.
I KNEW THE ‘70s WERE SCREWED WHEN I SAT THROUGH A HOMILY ABOUT SUPPORTING THE BERRIGANS,
The Berrigan brothersDaniel, a Jesuit priest, and Philip, of the Josephite orderled the antiwar and antidraft movements during the Vietnam War. Philip served in the U.S. Army in World War II, becoming a priest in 1955. Daniel, the intellectual and theologian, ordained in 1952, complements his brother’s activism, acquired in assignments to black parishes in New Orleans and Baltimore.
In May 1968, the two brothers, along with seven other Catholic protesters, burned the records of the Catonsville, Maryland, draft board with homemade napalm. Their arrest, trial, and sentence to 3 years in prison propelled the Berrigans to national prominence. They helped found the Catholic resistance movement: estimates for draft board raids range from 53 to 250. Having lost their appeals, Philip reported to jail, in April 1970, but Daniel became a fugitive.
The Harrisburg 7 INCLUDING THE BERRIGANS
I was in jr./ sr. high school, one of things I remember was getting ready to start high school when they had the Watergate hearings in D.C.