Friday, February 20, 2009

Diocese of Rochester: Lay preaching during the homily

Bishop Clark of the diocese of Rochester, NY, has interpreted Ecclesiae de Mysterio as permitting a priest or deacon to involve a layman in the homily by entering a "dialogue". I propose that this interpretation is fallacious.

Here is a letter from Bishop Clark from 2005. In it, Bishop Clark says that his 2002 "Norms for Liturgical Preaching" does not allow "preaching by the lay faithful ... within the celebration of the Eucharist at the moment reserved for the homily"; at the same time, he admits that "another provision of the diocesan norms" allows use of "dialogue" whereby "the ordained preacher begins the homily and then invites an authorized preacher or preachers to develop part of the exposition".

Here (no longer linked) is a letter from Bishop Clark from 2009. In it, Bishop Clark says that a 2005 document from Francis Cardinal Arinze (then prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments [CDWDS]) addressed to the Neocatechumenal Way permits the "dialogue" method practiced in the Rochester diocese. Bishop Clark also speaks of priests "occasionally shar[ing] the ministry of preaching with lay preachers" (although anecdotal evidence suggests this is done far more frequently than "occasionally"). He also describes the practice of allowing a lay preacher to give "an exposition of the ordained minister's homily" as truly a "dialogue" since that term "refers to 'two speakers'" and is not exclusive to something "resembl[ing] a secular conversation."

Here is an article which includes the 2005 document from Cardinal Arinze (about halfway down). The salient part is this (emphasis mine):
3. The homily, because of its nature and importance, is reserved to the priest or deacon (cf. Codex Iuris Canonici, can. 767 § 1). As for the occasional contribution of testimonies on the part of the lay faithful, the proper places and methods for these are indicated in the Interdicasterial Instruction Ecclesiae de Mysterio, which was approved “in specific form” by Pope John Paul II and published on August 15, 1997. In this document, sections 2 and 3 of article 3 read as follows:
    §2 - “It is permitted to have a brief instruction that helps explain better the liturgy that is being celebrated, and even, in exceptional circumstances, a few testimonies, as long as these conform to the liturgical norms, are offered on the occasion of Eucharistic liturgies celebrated on particular days (for seminarians, the sick, etc.), and are thought truly helpful as an illustration of the regular homily delivered by the celebrating priest. These instructions and testimonies must not assume characteristics that might cause them to be confused with the homily.” §3 - “The possibility of ‘dialogue’ during the homily (cf. Directorium de Missis cum Pueris, no. 48) can be used occasionally and with prudence by the celebrating minister as a means of exposition, which does not transfer to others the duty of preaching.”
Careful attention must also be paid to the Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum, no. 74.
Here is the 2004 Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum (also from the CDWDS) which is referenced in the 2005 document from Cardinal Arinze (but neglected in Bishop Clark's 2009 letter). Article 74 reads (emphasis mine):
If the need arises for the gathered faithful to be given instruction or testimony by a layperson in a Church concerning the Christian life, it is altogether preferable that this be done outside Mass. Nevertheless, for serious reasons it is permissible that this type of instruction or testimony be given after the Priest has proclaimed the Prayer after Communion. This should not become a regular practice, however. Furthermore, these instructions and testimony should not be of such a nature that they could be confused with the homily, {cf. Ecclesiae de Mysterio, Art. 3, Sect. 2} nor is it permissible to dispense with the homily on their account.
Redemptionis Sacramentum is referring to Article 3, Section 2 of Ecclesiae de Mysterio, which is quoted above, in the 2005 letter of Cardinal Arinze.

The real kicker to all of this is that Bishop Clark is falling back upon the permission for "dialogue" given in the document Directorium de Missis cum Pueris. What is this document? It's the 1973 Directory for Masses with Children (DMC). Article 48 reads as follows (emphasis mine):
The homily explaining the word of God should be given great prominence in all Masses with children. Sometimes the homily intended for children should become a dialogue with them, unless it is preferred that they should listen in silence.
The directory "is concerned with children who have not yet entered the period of preadolescence" (n. 6), and this norm specifically governs "Masses with children in which only some adults take part" (n. 7). Applying DMC 48 in any other situation — as Bishop Clark is apparently doing — is erroneous.

Anyone disagree? State your case!


Gretchen said...

This is my diocese, Jeff.

Dr. K said...

No disagreement good sir, only whole-hearted joy that you are making these points so well and sharing them with the Catholic bloggers of the world and those of the DoR.

As I said over at Rich's blog, we need you to write on behalf of us. You do such a fine job of arguing these points and backing them up with excellent documentation.

His excellency's address:

Most Rev. Matthew H. Clark
Bishop of Rochester
Pastoral Center
Diocese of Rochester
1150 Buffalo Road
Rochester, New York 14624

Please help us! The more letters the better, as it shows the Bishop there is a true concern about what is going on.

~Dr. K

Anonymous said...

Jeff, in addition to the letter to Bishop Clark that Dr. K mentioned, I implore you to write to the CDWDS on our behalf. Please send them a copy of Bishop Clark's letter and request clarification on Dialogue Homilies, as well as clarification as to whether the DoR policy, which involves a priest and lay homilist delivering back to back homilies, is acceptable.

Anonymous said...

Please write to the CDWDS for us!

We need to know if dialogue homilies can occur outside of children masses and if the DoR is properly interpreting and applying the dialogue homily in its parishes. Including only allowing an authorized lay preacher and the form it takes with a priest homily followed by lay "exposition" or whatever he calls it.

Please please please help!

CPT Tom said...

The letter you reference looks very much like the one I have in my drawer from 2005, except with out the Cardinal Arinse reference.

As in most if not all things Liturgical, Holy Mother Church makes things very easy for us...if we actually WANT to follow what she tells us! Any person who isn't trying to evade the INTENT and the LOGIC of what the Church has written should come to the right conclusion that the Homily is ONLY for the ordained priesthood.

Seems that the so called "Masses with Children" should be abolished, since it has been used as the justification for other liturgical abuses, such as, using secular music in masses. But that is another story for another time.

My latest post on this is here:

Anonymous said...

Japhy, do you know if it is possible to look up online all the responses published by the CDWDS through their protocol numbers?

If yes and you have a link, it would be appreciated.

Jeff Pinyan (japhy) said...

Anon - oh, I wish! The responses are published in the journal Notitiae, but a subscription is expensive.

The Adoremus Bulletin has many such responses on their web site, but I doubt you'll find anything analogous to, say,

Dr. K said...

Here is a copy of my response at Rich's blog, in case you don't happen to see it in time:

It looks great, Jeff.

If you could fine some way to incorporate the passage from Liturgicae Instaurationes, that may strengthen it even more. Specifically: "The homily has as its purpose to explain to the faithful the word of God just proclaimed and to adapt it to the mentality of the times. The priest, therefore, is the homilist; the congregation is to refrain from comments, attempts at dialogue, or anything similar." It seems that the only treatment of dialogue homilies that does not in some way reference back to the DMC is this passage, which speaks negatively of the practice.

Fine job sir, I hope that the Bishop will be convinced sooner or later about what yourself and others have written. Though I get the feeling the only way something will ever happen is if the Congregation for Divine Worship clarifies the matter and says that it can not occur outside of children Masses. But it looks as though you are ready for that scenario in that you plan to forward a copy with information and the prior letters to the CDWDS. An excellent idea.

I hope you will send the Bishop your letter.

~Dr. K

Jeff Pinyan (japhy) said...

Good suggestion, Dr. K. I've applied it thus:


The only other treatment of “dialogue” in homilies outside the context of Masses with children is found in the instruction Liturgicae Instaurationes of September 5, 1970, which states that during the homily “the congregation is to refrain from comments, attempts at dialogue, or anything similar.” (no. 2/a) As the later documents of the Church which touch upon “dialogue” in homilies refer to the Directory for Masses with Children, it is unlikely that they supersede the general principle found in Liturgicae Instaurationes.


Dr. K said...

Sounds good!

Keep us posted on this and the CDWDS letter.

My prayers that your letters help bring an end to these abuses.

~Dr. K

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

The letter looks good.

I have nothing to add, at this point.

Anonymous said...

Any updates on the status of your letters? Have they been sent to the curia and His Excellency?

Please keep us posted, you truly are doing the work of the Lord.