This is interesting.
Take a look at this piece from the ultra-lefty National Catholic Reporter.
My emphases and comments.
Lay Ministries: Minnesota parishes tussle with impending ban on lay preaching
By KRIS BERGGREN, Minneapolis
Publication date: June 13, 2008
An archbishop’s recent order to end lay preaching in the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese has brought a deep sense of loss to Catholics who believe in the practice and the theology behind it. In some parishes, lay leaders are seeking ways to register their disagreement with the new ban or to keep lay voices alive despite it. [Okay… right off the bat we have a stress on feelings and personal " belief" that clashes with the Church’s law and teaching.]
And some people are voting with their feet and finding other places to worship. [Where? If this is for the whole Archdiocese, they are going outside the diocese or to non-Catholic churches?]
Archbishop Harry Flynn sent the letter in January to all archdiocesan pastors instructing them to end lectionary-based liturgical lay preaching by May 2, his retirement date, calling such preaching a “liturgical abuse.” [He was trying to clear the deck for the new Archbishop.] While Canon 766 of the 1983 revised Code of Canon Law states that lay preaching may be permitted when deemed useful [Apparently the Archbishop did not deem it useful.] or necessary according to norms developed by episcopal conferences, Flynn’s directive appears to be guided by the restrictions in the 2004 Vatican instructional document Redemptionis Sacramentum, which narrows the criteria for allowing lay preaching only to accommodate a scarcity of priests or the needs of a specific community. [Yes… we do have to pay attention to Redemptionis Sacramentum.]
Some 29 parishes [Good grief! Do they have General Absolution in those places too?] here are affected by the ban. Some offered formal ministry training and formation for lay preachers, while others offered informal support and resources.
The targeting [Interesting choice of words. It makes the Archbishop seem like the enemy and the lay preachers victims.] of lay voices deeply disturbs Patricia Hughes Baumer who, with her husband, runs Partners in Preaching, an Eden Prairie, Minn., organization that has trained 500 lay preachers here and in five other dioceses since 1997.
“[Lay preaching] isn’t an abuse now and it wasn’t even by constructionist standards,” said Baumer, who believes the ban ignores “the direction of canon law” away from prohibition and toward authorization of lay preaching since Vatican II. [GREAT! Patty doesn’t think its an abuse. But Patricia doesn’t get to make that decision, does she? She has decided first that there is a new "direction" or vector hinted at in Canon Law, that is to say that down the line sometime Canon Law will permit lay preaching. That is her dreamy opinion. Maybe she is right. Maybe she isn’t. But the fact is that the present Code not only says what it says, but there are other documents governing liturgical life that may not be ignored. I am also pretty sure this will make a dent in her budget.]
Some have speculated that Flynn was cleaning house for his successor. [Of course he was. He knew what the new man would do about it and took some of the heat off of him ahead of time. A good thing to do.]
Baumer said, “It was widely anticipated that Archbishop [John] Nienstedt would not be open to the continuation of [lay preaching] and that Archbishop Flynn made the request so that parishes could attempt to respond with grace, that it was not going to be an immediate termination, [which] would be experienced as far more harsh. [Look how she paints the new Archbishop.] Clearly, if you believe something is an abuse, you don’t give people four months to terminate it.”
Bishops can and do interpret instructional documents and episcopal norms differently, said Passionist Sr. Elissa Rinere, a canon lawyer. “The fact that it can change easily is the nature of the system.” It is important to understand how that system works, she said. For example, instructional documents such as Redemptionis Sacramentum may well inform a bishop’s decision-making but should not supersede canon law itself. [She pits the documents against each other.]
In a 2006 article for Preach magazine, Rinere called the language on lay preaching in the instruction “chilling.” [Oooooo!] She explained that the instruction not only lacks the legislative standing to trump existing canon law or episcopal norms, but contains discrepancies in wording compared with the canon’s text. Rinere wrote: “The instruction cites the canon as saying ‘Laypeople may preach outside Mass in churches or oratories (161).’ Canon 766 does not contain the words ‘outside Mass.’ ”
Catholics who support lay preaching have expressed dismay, even grief, at the ban.
“I just feel as if somebody stole my church,” said Miriam Meyers, a retired professor of linguistics and a longtime member of St. Stephen Parish in Minneapolis, which has involved lay preachers for almost two decades. “I think the loss [of lay preaching] is profound and really rather devastating.”
Mary Wilmes, also of St. Stephen, resents the effective silencing of the voices of women and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. [Thanks be to God!] As the unofficial archivist at St. Stephen, she has collected 336 sermons, which she e-mails to parishioners who request them.
“Different things appeal to different people,” Wilmes said. “When you have a range [of preachers], you are going to be touched more than you will ever be touched by one preacher. Many parts, one body, isn’t it? It is an incredible richness.” [Or great confusion, depending on what is being preached. I am forced, unpleasantly, to wonder what they were preaching, these "gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people".]
Frank Schweigert of St. Frances Cabrini in Minneapolis spoke emotionally [Lot’s of emotion so far to supplement the opposition to the Church’s law and the local Archbishop.] about the importance of lay preaching in setting an example of living with faith for other laypeople, especially “in a formative way for boys and girls. It did a lot to enhance ecclesial understanding of what it means to be a baptized Christian.”
Parishes are wrestling with how to comply yet retain lay presence and perspective. A typical solution is to schedule the lay preacher before Mass. [And then we can implement Summorum Pontificum in those parishes and see what happens.]
St. Joan of Arc [One of the strangest parishes in the USA. Remember this?] changed its preaching model well before Flynn’s letter, said associate pastor Fr. Jim Cassidy. Formerly, lay preachers spoke after the Gospel. Now they’re scheduled before Mass. The priest preaches a homily. The advantage to the community, Cassidy said, “besides wanting to respect the guidelines of the liturgy,” is that the two often complement each other. “It is a win-win situation.”
Others find two speakers unwieldy. Staff liturgist Chris Kosowski at St. Frances Cabrini said laypeople have preached for some four decades with the “invitation, encouragement and support of pastors. We have had a feeling of mutuality between lay and clergy.” Parishioners feel various proposals to keep lay preaching in different ways have shortcomings, said Kosowski. “The proposals we have to consider place [clergy and laypeople] on different planes. [You see, this is really about eliminating the Catholic distinction of ordained priesthood and the priesthood of the baptized.] There’s the sense of not wanting two ‘homilies’ in one Mass. And just the feeling of how can something that was OK, allowed by canon law since 1983, all of a sudden not be OK?” [Right. Let’s ask these people if it was right to virtually supress the older form of Mass.]
St. Joseph Parish in suburban New Hope will schedule its usual rotation of lay preachers before Mass but they will not vest or process, said Martha Blenkush, a lay preacher and a board member of Partners in Preaching. “[We’ll be] pointing to the readings rather than referring to them. [?] It’s outside of Mass but still allows for diversity of voices, [bzzzz This is the common theme.] which we think to be important.”
Lay preachers are important in parishes without a resident priest, and where members and pastor aren’t fluent in the same language, advocates of lay preaching say.
“People have the right to have the Gospel proclaimed and hear the word preached in a language they can understand,” said Blenkush. [Hmmm… ]
Spanish-speaking lay preachers have been active in the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese for about six years.
Wilmes has decided to worship with a breakaway group from St. Stephen that retains ties with the parish but has arranged for offsite worship space on Sunday mornings. She’s joined by at least 100 parishioners who feel similarly, including Miriam Meyers.
Others aren’t taking the order lightly, either: One parish council is considering its finance committee’s request to withhold 10 percent of the parish assessment to the archdiocese until lay preaching is restored, according to a lay preacher at that parish. [Oh my. I think I wouldn’t want to test Archbp. Nienstedt that way.]
Even as they await unwelcome changes, many advocates of lay preaching are grateful for the opportunities they’ve enjoyed. Art Zannoni, a lay preacher at St. Cecilia Parish in St. Paul, [and signer of the infamous pro-abortion ad in the NYT many years ago.] said, “We chose as a parish to thank Archbishop Flynn for allowing [lay preaching] the number of years he did.” [A far more gracious response than the others.]
Partners in Preaching will continue to offer training. Its board has commissioned Baumer to work on a book documenting the impact of lay preaching on the Catholic church. She said, “We will continue to advocate for diversity of voices, believing it really is a need of God’s people.”
Kris Berggren writes from Minneapolis.
National Catholic Reporter June 13, 2008
A couple things.
First, there is issues of law, which perhaps our canonists con comment on.
Remember when dealing with people or arguments like those presented here that at times you simply must reject the premise. For example, above we read: "the importance of lay preaching in setting an example…". I think we can simply reject the premise. I am not convinced that lay preaching is important in most of the places mentioned in this article. I can see that it might be in the case where a non-Hmong speaking priest is assigned to the Hmong personal parish. But in that case, the person should probably work with the priest to translate his sermon and make adjustments for cultural peculiarities.
Secondly, note the phrase "diversity of voices". Not "a diversity", just "diversity". Why do liberals hate articles, anyway? They talk about "Church" and not "the Church". This "diversity of voices" is a buzz phrase they have had instilled into them probably by their trainer(s) and workshops. Tell me this isn’t ideological.
Also, note the hyper-exaltation of feeling. Feelings trump everything – law, reason, tradition – everything.