An AP story has different takes on the Mass at Nationals Stadium
My emphases and comments.
Papal Mass raises questions about role of laity
By ERIC GORSKI – 5 hours ago
WASHINGTON (AP) — For 46,000 Catholics, it was a Mass like no other, with the altar standing on centerfield at a ballpark and the presiding clergyman arriving in a bulletproof vehicle.
But Pope Benedict XVI’s Mass in the nation’s capital Thursday was also different from a typical service in another way: Lay people were not asked to distribute Communion, which was administered exclusively by 300 priests and deacons. [Just to drill into that word "typical", we should keep in mind that in some contexts (such as liturgy) it doesn’t just mean "usual" but rather "normative", as in the "typical edition of the Roman Missal". In the case of a Mass where there are so many clergy, it would be an abuse for anyone other than clergy to distribute Holy Communion. However, it is also very often an abuse in many parishes to employ so many extraordinary ministers, when it is likely that none are needed.]
Organizers of the Mass at Nationals Park were only following the letter of church law. [As I said. But do you sense a kind of "violated the spirit of Vatican II" coming down the line?] But to some Roman Catholics, the ceremony was symbolic of what they see as Benedict’s desire to erect clear boundaries between clergy and lay people. [Unreal. I would say a table altar is a barrier.]
"What he wants to do really is to reinforce the old categories and classifications — different roles for different people," said David Gibson, author of books on Benedict and the future of the U.S. church. [Sure. But… that is a good thing.]
"Men and women, priests and lay people. Each one has their role according to their talents, their ordained status in the church."
The clear division of roles doesn’t sit well with all American Catholics, who are used to living in a democracy. [Then they need to have a clearer Catholic identity. Liturgy is a good place to start with that. That is the very place we MUST start in most cases.] Some would like a greater say in church affairs, including choosing their parish priests. [I bet they would!] Others cherish the distinct roles held by clergy and point to several examples of the two working together in harmony.
The pope has signaled his position through some relatively small gestures, Gibson said.
For example, the Vatican has issued a document reaffirming that only priests and deacons can touch and clean the chalice after Mass, something many lay people have done.
The Rev. John Wauck, a professor of literature at Rome’s Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, warned against measuring appreciation for the laity by what they can and can’t do in church. [Precisely. When you blur the roles of lay people and priests, and try to "empower" lay people by having them do things appropriate to priests, then you are effectively saying that lay people don’t have dignity on their own. To have importance they must be more like priests. Being a lay person isn’t good enough. In fact, this is the worst sort of clericalism there is. And it is NOT imposed by traditionally leaning Catholics.]
"The life of the church doesn’t take place in sacristies and parish meeting halls alone," Wauck said. "It takes place in homes, shops, sports fields, businesses, hospitals … wherever there are Catholics."
He added: "The relationship between the clergy and the laity can’t be seen in terms of a power struggle. [Which is the feminist view, and usually a feminism of the Marxist variety.] Both are serving the church in their own way."
Because of the priest shortage in the U.S., lay people are increasingly being called upon to run the administrative side of parishes while leaving sacramental duties to clergy.
In 2005, nearly one-quarter of the nation’s 217,000 parishes were without a resident parish priest. At the end of Pope John Paul II’s pontificate, more lay people than clergy were working full-time in American parishes and many of those lay leaders were women.
Lay people also have taken more active roles on parish financial councils and high-profile panels like the church’s National Review Board, which was formed in response to the clergy sex abuse crisis. [Okay… this is all very interesting, but the writer seems to be drawing an equivalence between liturgical roles and what other things lay people can do in and for the Church. The argument seems to be: if they can balance the books, they should be able to do everything else too.]
Even so, that board is advisory. Bishops still make policy decisions, and board members have left after complaining their advice was not heeded. [That is really another issue. Sometimes the advice is bad. Sometimes the bishops are thick. But advice is merely advice either way.]
For distribution of the Eucharist, priests and deacons are known as "ordinary" ministers, meaning they should do the job when they are available.
At Thursday’s Mass, 1,500 priests and deacons were in the stadium — five times the number needed, said Susan Gibbs, spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Washington.
Another staple of parish life — altar boys and girls — also were missing from the Mass. Under papal liturgy guidelines, seminarians perform those duties. [Well… sure! Most of them are actually installed lectors and acolytes. Altar boys and girl altar boys actually only substitute for installed acolytes in their absence.]
But lay people also played high-profile roles, reading the Scripture and serving as cantors and petition readers. [And I don’t think they should have. This was a sore spot in the Mass: I got the sense that the organizers instrumentalized these people to force the Mass to be multi-cultural.]
"To me, it’s almost seamless how we work together," said Gibbs, one of nine lay people on the archdiocese’s papal planning committee. "Clergy bring pastoral teaching and direction. Lay people bring business skills, administrative skills." [That seems like common sense to me. I can’t imagine not consulting people far more experienced than I am on matters of business, etc.]
Patty Olszewski, 51, of Potomoc, Md., was disappointed about the lack of lay Eucharistic ministers — she is one. [Because its about Patty, right? I dunno… maybe I am being unfair here. After all, she didn’t say that, the writer did, about her. But this seems to be so common in these discussions: it all comes back to "me".]
She describes herself as an anti-abortion Catholic who wishes the church would at least consider women priests and disagrees with church teaching against homosexuality. [Okay,… two solid reasons she probably should not be a distributor of Communion at all, anywhere. Such a role should also involve a deep commitment to the Church’s teachings. All of them. Instead, by making a public statement in this way, she creates confusion.] Even so, she said she’s happy with her role and feels like she’s contributing.
"In everyday life, you don’t feel oppressed by any sort of hierarchy because it’s so heavily populated by the laity," Olswewski said. "That’s ‘We the People.’ The church is all of us." [This person seems to be confused about the hierarchical structure of the Church, which Jesus Christ gave to us… and which is a gift. Sure, it depends on how that is embraced and with what charity it is fulfilled. But this "we are Church" stuff leads down the wrong path every time.]
Erin Johnson, 24, a parish youth minister from Gaithersburg, Md., believes "you either follow the traditions of the church, or you don’t." [Contrast the attitude of the 24 year old, with that of the 51 year old. Does that suggest something? It does to me. And let’s ask both of them some basic catechism questions.]
"I feel like I have plenty of opportunities to serve," said Johnson, who brought 30 teens to the Mass. "Each individual, every single one of us, has a place." [Thanks for not having baggage!]