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Lay people to preside at funerals in Liverpool

By on Friday, 14 September 2012

The Archdiocese of Liverpool has become the first diocese in England and Wales to commission lay people to preside at funerals.

Archbishop Patrick Kelly formally commissioned 22 lay ministers to celebrate funeral ceremonies in an effort to relieve pressure on priests who sometimes must celebrate seven or more funeral Masses a week.

The move was announced through a brochure, “Planning a Catholic Funeral”, published recently by the archdiocese. The brochure described a funeral as the “community’s main celebration and prayer for the deceased”.

“This could be a funeral Mass but … it may be a funeral service led by a lay funeral minister or a deacon,” it said.

Vocations in Liverpool declined sharply in recent years, and the archdiocese projected that the number of priests will decline from 170 to 100 by 2015.

Lay ministers already preside at funerals in some parts of the world where no priest or deacon is available. The decision by Archbishop Kelly represents the first time such a step was authorised by the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

The archdiocese’s Council of Priests supported the move after the archbishop consulted with its members and examined the 1990 Order of Christian Funerals.

The document calls for the lay ministers to preside at funerals when clergy are unavailable, Archbishop Kelly explained in an article in the Tablet.

The document, he said, also recommends that a Mass “be celebrated for the deceased at the earliest convenient time”.

“In some of our parishes in the diocese priests are being asked to celebrate over 120 funerals each year,” Archbishop Kelly wrote.

“That does not neatly work out at two or three times a week,” he wrote. “Some weeks there can be six or seven.”

Archbishop Kelly said that the lay ministers – some of whom are drawn from the roster of Eucharistic ministers, catechists and religious sisters – would receive continuing support and training to ensure that the service they provide is “of the best quality” and was not seen by Catholics as “second-class”.

  • Dave

    Absolutely right Molly. In my diocese we have a surplus of priests, but that won’t stop this kind of nonsense from spreading there.
     As others have said: God forgive me, but we have a generation of “mummies” boys as priests. If they don’t have a new car to drive the half mile to the nearest church they shake with pre-emptive exhaustion. This is all about “planning for the future”, which seems to mean asking those ordained to do less and less and handing over the remnants to an “empowered” laity. Only I am not empowered to offer mass and I do need Holy Mass to hopefully ask the Almighty to turn a partial blind eye to my many failings.

  • Fr. Thomas Poovathinkal

     
    “…….so “practical” he wants lay people to conduct funerals! ‘”. . .”

    THOSE WHO ARE FOND OF BEING TREATED LIKE DOOR-MAT, THOSE WHO LIKE TO BE TAKEN FOR GRANTED, THOSE WHO WANT TO LIVE AN EASY LIFE WITH EVERYTHING SERVED INTO THEIR MOUTH ARE INDEED LAY PEOPLE. THESE DON’T WANT ANY ACTIVE ROLE IN THE CHURCH.

    BUT THEN PEOPLE WHO WANT TO BE PEOPLE OF GOD WILL BE HAPPY TO BE INSERTED INTO PLAYING AN ACTIVE ROLE IN CHURCH-LIFE. ONLY SUCH PEOPLE WILL CHALLENGE CORRUPTION AND INEFFICIENCY IN CHURCH LIFE. FOR THIS THE INSPIRATION HAS TO COME FROM GOD’S WORD HEARD IN FAITH AND SUPPORTED BY THE SACRAMENTS, ESPECIALLY CONFESSION OF SINS AND THE HOLY EUCHARIST.

    IN FACT PEOPLE OF GOD MAKE THE CHURCH. FROM SUCH  WE GET GOOD PRIESTS.
     

  • Fr. Thomas Poovathinkal

     PLEASE DON’T GO FOR CHEAP PRIESTS.

    THOSE WHO SUFFER FROM DEPRIVATION (There are thousands of young men who want to enter seminary in the third world but are turned away  due to lack of funds.) CAN’T MAKE GOOD PRIESTS NOR GOOD APOSTLES.

    THE WORLD NEEDS APOSTLES; THEY WILL BE ALSO GOOD PRIESTS.

    LIKE WHAT JESUS THE LORD DID: GO FOR LATE VOCATIONS.

    JESUS THE LORD RECRUITED  MOSTLY FROM PEOPLE WHO WERE MARRIED, MATURED AND READY TO RETIRE FROM MARRIAGE AT HIS DIVINE CALL; THIS OF COURSE WITH FEW EXCEPTIONS LIKE ST. JOHN. THOSE PEOPLE WERE LIKE RIPE FRUITS READ TO FALL AT THE TOUCH OF HIS DIVINE FINGURES INTO HIS SACRED HANDS.

  • Fr. Thomas Poovathinkal

    “It’s just that the bishops discourage them.”

    IS IT BY THEIR UN-EXEMPLARY AND UN-INSPIRING  LIFE?

  • nytor

    No, it’s by bullying them for their orthodoxy and refusing to let them proceed to ordination.

  • nytor

    Oh so you are calling for married priests now?

  • nytor

    “The funeral rite is not a Sacrament and in the absence of a Priest or Deacon it is already permitted under the Order of Christian Funerals from 1989 for a suitable lay person to perform such a task.”

    Only where it is impossible for an ordained sacred minister to do so. Not inconvenient, not slightly difficult – impossible. Whilst the funeral itself may not be a sacrament the Requiem Mass which should  – should! – accompany it is. It is scandalous to suggest that a plain funeral carried out without a mass is satisfactory – as well as the consequences for the soul of the deceased, it is also a prime opportunity to re-evangelise lapsed attendees, a point which even the Bitter Pill made in its commentary on the issue.

    “The Requiem Mass performed by a priest would still be available at a later opportunity.”

    You know as well as I do that they woudn’t bother.

    “So why is there an objection to a trained and authorised lay minister carrying out what is in essence a community celebration, one which enables the community to mourn as well as to hope by focusing on the mystery of the death and resurrection of Christ.”

    Because it’s NOT a “community celebration”. What an appalling idea. It is a commendation of the soul of the departed. As I have said above, I think these arrangements are disrespectful to the families of deceased people and deleterious to the souls of the deceased themselves and they must not be allowed to come into effect.

    “Of course, ideally I would like a Priest to perform at my funeral service”

    Perform? You’re not going to the theatre.

  • Fr. Thomas Poovathinkal

     “I do not know exactly what you mean by “MERE BISHOPS.”

    “MERE BISHOPS” : THOSE WHO IN PRACTICE ARE NOT APOSTLES LEAD BY THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD JESUS, ACCOMPANIED BY THE SIGNS OF THE KINGDOM.

    PLAYING WITH WORDS DO CHANGE THE REALITY AT TIMES.

    AND THEN EVERYTHING IS TO BE JUDGED “BY THEIR FRUITS”.

  • http://ccfather.blogspot.com/ Ben Trovato

    Jack, I quite agree it’s our right. That’s precisely my point. I’ve blogged a few times about this…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jack-Hughes/100000562751914 Jack Hughes

     Sorry Ben, I didn’t connect your name with the blog (regular reader btw)

  • scary goat

     I think the excommunications have been lifted, haven’t they.  I don’t think they are fully reconciled, although hopefully still working on it. 

  • scary goat

     When did they put a stop to Liturgy of the Word with Holy Communion?  That’s news to me.  Details please?

  • http://twitter.com/mjw0212 Matthew J Wright

     per·form/pərˈfôrm/
    Verb:Carry out, accomplish, or fulfill (an action, task, or function).Work, function, or do something to a specified standard.Synonyms:execute – act – carry out – accomplish – fulfil – play

  • http://twitter.com/mjw0212 Matthew J Wright

    Using your “logic” the use of Deacons is a diminution of the priesthood.

    A division of labour, is necessary as it was in the early church, when the Church fathers introducedDeacons to divide some of the workload.

    A funeral rite is not a Sacrament, Church Law enables the enlistment of the laity to ecclesiastical offices and the provision of trained and properly authorised lay persons able to carry out funeral rites in the absense of priests or deacons is perfectly legitimate and shows prudent planning given the likely future demographics.

    Some protestants may detest the Mass and the priesthood, although many protestants still embrace a priesthood and a mass.  To generalise by saying “the protestants detested the Mass and the Priesthood above all other things” is to show that while some history may have been read, little of it appears to have been digested and properly understood.

  • Rizzo the Bear

    Well, it was de rigeur in my parish until the plug was unceremoniously pulled.

    As for the timeline, all I can tell you is that it happened over a year ago.

    I remember asking my PP about it (out of curiosity) and he said it was something to do with a ruling made by the Vatican department concerned with such matters – it could be the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

    Also, like the lay funeral, the excuse was – you’ve guessed it – a shortage of priests etc. etc.

    When you consider it, the very idea of substituting daily Holy Mass with an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion doing everything on the altar but turning bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is beyond the pale, especially when Holy Mass is the centre of our faith.

    If it’s still going on (in some diocese), they’re insane or stupid or waiting for a boot up the bum by the Men in Scarlet!

  • hopefroreurope

    Thank you Father. I never cease to be appalled at the flimsiness of Sacramental Programmes and the ‘go along to get along’ approach by the Liverpool Heirarchy. We have suffered enough at the hands of liberals. I pray Rome will take this in hand before the laity take over all together. As I have already said in a previous comment I am in the process of writing to Rome to report this ILLEGAL ACTION. I hope others will join me.

  • hopefroreurope

    Too right. I recommend the book Goodbye Good Men by Michael Rose which highlights the refusal of good holy young men in many seminaries..many in the US but also 1 here in the UK. Fortunately many have now been closed but there are still many modernists out there.

  • hopefroreurope

    How disgraceful

  • hopefroreurope

    For your information the Cause for Canonisation of Pope Paul VI has already been introduced. Where on earth did you get this clap-trap information from. Pope Paul VI was an outstanding Pontiff who gave us Humanae Vitae.

  • hopefroreurope

    A funeral rite is not a sacrament but a Requeim Mass is and this is what faithful Catholics desire, not the possibility that their desires may not be carried out.

  • hopefroreurope

    Hello, a Requiem Mass HAS to be offered prior to burial.

  • http://twitter.com/mjw0212 Matthew J Wright

    Have any of you actually met the Archbishop?  I had the privilege of being introduced to him before he held a Mass for the sick.  My impression of him was favourable, a nice man and a good priest.

  • paulpriest

     He’s lovely – just like +Smiffy’s lovely – but it doesn’t mean you don’t want to shove their head in the nearest font in exasperation…

  • Rizzo the Bear

    Yes, actually. I wasn’t impressed.

    So, you had to be introduced to him? Merlin’s beard!! That says a lot!

    In my diocese, we’ve had (God forgive me) bishops in the past who were either like Smashie and Nicie or Bishop Brennan from Father Ted.

    My bishop is gifted, courageous, an excellent priest, pastor and he gives it to you straight.He’s also devoted to Our Lady. He also has a great sense of humour. He takes no messing off anyone, including happy-clappy liberals.

    We’ve lost priests in our diocese in the past few decades through death, others who left because they couldn’t hack it and a couple of paedophiles. Did this faze our new bishop when he took the crozier? Nope. He rolled up his sleeves and got on with the task. Priests mucked in. He’s a breath of fresh air.

    It is not enough for a clergyman to be nice as pie whilst his parish or diocese becomes a trainwreck.

  • Rizzo the Bear

    Exactly!

  • Rizzo the Bear

    Yikes!

    I think Fr Poo-thingy has a problem with his shift key. It’s superglued!

  • 2_Armpits_4_Sister_Sarah

    DO YOU MIND NOT SHOUTING?

  • David

    Nonsense!  Its about Liverpool being saddled with Vatican II priests and their mentality.

  • nytor

    Being “nice” isn’t a qualification for a bishopric. Being a sign of contradiction to the world is!

  • nytor

    Which diocese? I would like to look up the ruling, so as to put a stop to it in Birmingham.

  • Leo

    I am amazed that His Grace expects 70 of his 170 priests to die in the next three years, or have I misread it? If priests stopped concelebrating Requiems for local or national celebrities some time would be freed up. Will there be a priest for the 70 priestly funerals or will they have to make do with a lay-person too?

  • Rizzo the Bear

    Shrewsbury.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/7UO272UB3UDIPP7X6QIHGDIEK4 Herman U. Ticke

    Agree Nytor.
    One of the saddest things about my time in the Novus Ordo was to see a young man go off to seminary with an orthodox Faith (gotten from where I know not.) only to have him come home (for a holiday) after a year or two sneering at doctrines upheld by the Church for centuries courtesy of the teaching staff at seminary.

  • Fr. Thomas Poovathinkal

    ALL DOWNWARD TRENDS: DEGRADATION, DECAY AND DEATH IS DIRECTLY CONNECTED WITH INSTITUTIONALISATION.

    THE CHURCH OF CHRIST THE LORD IS THE HEAVENLY MOVEMENT ON EARTH INITIATED BY THE SON OF GOD, GOD HIMSELF AND CARRIED ON BY HIS HOLY SPIRIT IN AND THROUGH THOSE WHO KEEP HIS WORD.

  • Fr. Thomas Poovathinkal

    THEY TRIED TO “TAKE CHARGE OF” HIM IN HIS PHYSICAL DAYS. HE SIMPLY DID NOT PERMIT IT BEFORE HIS TIME.

    BUT LATER WHEN THE LORD LEFT BEHIND TIME, SPACE AND HISTORY, THEY INDEED TOOK CHARGE OF HIS CHURCH.

  • Rich

    Quite right Mollie. And let’s not forget the 10am weekday Mass, how many other people get to stumble next door to start work at 10am??

  • Rich

    You’ve got no ‘Likes’ Tom, and your post is offensive. I’ve dropped your title intentionally.

  • Rich

    Perhaps the archbishop should lead my example and declare that priests themselves should have funeral services led by lay ministers … their funerals are normally well attended by colleague priests, who will be able to stay at home to do ‘other things’.

  • scary goat

     Ok. Thanks for the info.  Funnily enough we have had Liturgy of the Word with Holy Communion until very recently for weekday Masses when our PP is away, but the last 2 weeks it has suddenly stopped.  I did wonder…..

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PWZKI7JBARE4DDT3NQ22RWMOJE Benedict Carter

    You what, Father? What on earth are you wittering on about? Institutionalisation (Whatever that means)? 

    Never heard of original Sin? And what about the Church Christ Himself founded? Have you not heard of that?

  • Rizzo the Bear

    I’m glad to have been of help, scary goat.

    God forgive me, I bet you miss LWHC like migrane…

  • scary goat

     LOL. Yeah.

  • nytor

    Why is Rome allowing this? Has someone reported this to them?