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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”.

  • Matthew J Wright

    I’ve read the comments below and I first want to say that as Catholics we should carry out our debates without sarcasm, anger, vitriol and a lack of respect to each other and the Church and with a desire to learn and understand. I would like to add to the debate by contributing some facts.

    I would also add that my parish is in the Liverpool Archdiocese and over the last couple of years I have attended several dozen funerals in the area, not just those of practising Catholics, but also of Anglicans, other Christians and non believers. Many have been funeral services held in the church, some with Mass others without. Other funeral services were held at the crematorium or in a chapel at the burial ground.  I say this so I can in addition to some facts, offer comment backed with perhaps more than the typical lay persons experience.

    The first issues are those of a practical nature so let us first consider some facts: the Catholic population in Archdiocese of Liverpool as of 2010 was estimated at 506, 772 (about 45% of the total population) and while the number of “practising” Catholics may be perceived to have dropped in recent years, many non-practising Catholics and their families still want a Catholic/ Christian burial for their loved ones. So for arguments sake let us say there are half a million Catholics in the Dioceses.

    There are 170 priests and (as of 2010 there were) 103 Permanent Deacons. In 2010 there were a total of about 6,400 baptisms and 1000 marriages.
    Extrapolating mortality rates from the Liverpool area, I estimate that about 7,000 Catholics die each year. That is 7,000 families to meet with, make arrangements, console and council and 7000 funeral services to perform.

    In my own parish there are 10 Masses scheduled each week. I estimate that there are about 50 to 60,000 Masses held each year in the Archdiocese. However, it was only an educated guess, so feel free to interpolate the figure for yourself

    Then add the parish council meetings, confirmation meetings, communion meetings, wedding meetingsbudget meetings, interfaith meetings, diocese meetings, school governors meetings etc. Then there is the time devoted to hospital chaplaincy and general pastoral work, eating, sleeping, study and lets not forget praying.

    Let us also consider that the average parish priest is likely to be in his mid sixties if not older and unlike his Anglican, Jewish or Muslim counterpart does not have a spouse to share the workload and emotional burden.

    Consider the numbers and then ask what alternative does the Archbishop have to enlisting some of the laity to aid the Church’s work?

    In any case what is there that prevents a lay minister from performing the funeral rite? Many herald readers may in addition to this plan already object to lay Eucharistic Ministers. There may also be disquiet in some quarters as to the use of lay readers as opposed to those ordained in the Latin Rite minor order of Lector .

    However, there are seven sacraments in the Church: Baptism, Confirmation or Chrismation, Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony. 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.

    So why is there an objection to a trained and authorised lay minister (I say person, but there may be further objections to a woman lay minister performing the funeral service) 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.

    Of course, ideally I would like a Priest to perform at my funeral service. So does the Archbishop, but in the absence of a Priest or Deacon what alternatives are there? Mass burials? keeping the dead on ice?

    Pax Vobiscum

  • Benedict Carter

    The Archbishop’s “alternative” is to institute in his Archdiocese the practices that have turned around the vocations crisis in some US dioceses: get rid of the dissenters, return to traditional Catholic piety, restore Eucharistic Adoration, and be a LEADER. 

    But the English Bishops continue on the disastrous path of the last forty-fifty years: to the destruction of the Church in these islands. 

    The Bible is full of images such as the blind leading the blind. To have yet MORE of the same neo-protestant nonsense (which this lay involvement is) is the sure means of total failure.  

  • Matthew J Wright

    National Office for Vocation Statistics: Priestly Vocations in England and Wales

    “Whilst people often believe that the number of priests in England and Wales is in decline, this is not a true picture. The decline from the 1950s to
    the 1990s in priestly vocations was in fact an adjustment from an anomaly. Factors within the Church and wider social factors led to an
    unusual surge in religious vocations in the mid twentieth century.

    The decline or adjustment was complete by the turn of the Millennium and during the last ten years, numbers entering diocesan seminary had
    doubled from its lowest point in 2001 and this increase has been sustained.

    It also often comes as a surprise to people when they learn that the average number of ordinations in the 2000s (noughties)
    at 26 per annum was higher than in the 1930s and 1940s when there were only an average of 6 and 18 ordinations per year respectively.

    The number of ordinations in the nineteen nineties was boosted by former Anglican clergy who were received into the Roman Catholic Church,
    bringing much valued experience with them. These ordinations were highest in 1996-1997. The latest figures, however, do not include
    ordinations of former anglicans who are part of the new Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

    The numbers of young people joining discernment groups is rising across the country. For example, the successful Compass discernment project which began at Worth Abbey is this year opening in Salford in response to demand from the North of England. The statistics above do not include ordinations for religious
    congregations, which are also rising. For example, the number of entrants to congregations of men was 13 in 2004 compared with 26 in 2009.

    The National Office for Vocation and indeed the whole Church is encouraged by the figures and by the generosity, integrity and talents held by the young people in our seminaries and religious congregations today. We will continue through the National Vocations Framework to provide more opportunities for young people to hear the call of Christ and help them find the confidence to respond to that call.”

  • Gelasius

    Hear, Hear !

  • Charles Martel

     Correction: “I don’t trust anyone to do anything properly any more”.

  • Matthew J Wright

    I don’t know what you mean by “neo-protestant nonsense (which this lay involvement is) ”

    Why is the involvement of the laity in the non-sacramental work of the Church “neo-protestant”?  Awarding a lay person an Ecclesiastical Office – (any post which by divine or ecclesiastical
    disposition is established in a stable manner to further a spiritual purpose) is considered perfectly acceptable and even codified under Canon Law.

    When you say “get rid of the dissenters” who do you mean?  How would you “get rid of” such people? 

    When you say “return to traditional Catholic piety” what do you mean?  If you are talking traditional, do you mean pre-nicean traditions, medieval traditions, post medieval but pre-Vatican I traditions, post Vatican I but pre-Vatican II traditions? Please be specific?

    In addition when you say “return to Catholic piety” what do you mean by piety?

    When you say “restore Eucharistic Adoration” what do you mean? I didn’t know that Eucharistic Adoration had been prohibited – In the church I go to in the Liverpool Archdiocese, the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament happens each Saturday afternoon witnessed by kneeling members of the congregation – please specify which Church edict forbade this practice.

    The Archbishop by the very nature of his office is the Leader in the diocese – every day he is active in his ministry, caring for and shepharding his flock – what specifically is he doing that does not qaulify him to be leader?

    Rather than exchanging rhetoric and I mean rhetoric in the purgorative sense as opposed to the classical sense, discussing and debating specific points will shed more light (and produce less heat) to better illuminate our understanding of the issues.

  • Pillarpark

    Matthew, you say that Order of Christian Funerals allows for the use of a lay person in the ‘absence’ of a Priest or Deacon. With 170 priests and more than 100 deacons in Liverpool, it can hardly be argued that there is currently an ‘absence’. So why start using lay ministers NOW when the dreaded ‘absence’ has not yet occured. I ‘m pretty sure that in 10, 20 or 30 years from now I may require dentures but that does not mean I should have them fitted today, just because I might have an ‘absence’ of some teeth in the future.
    Regarding the list of some extra curricular duties of priests, I would suggest that if it is necessary to ‘cut back’ it might be best to hand over the budget meetings, interfaith meetings, school governors meetings etc to some of the laity, and allow the priest to bury the dead instead. I for one would not like my funeral mass with a priest to be replaced by a funeral service by a lay person just because Father has to arrange the bingo for Saturday night.

  • nytor

    This is an absolute disgrace and the sooner the appalling Archbishop Kelly is replaced by a bishop who is actually a Catholic and who will reverse this move the better.

  • nytor

    As well as by his successor who has continued in the same vein.

  • nytor

    I’d be more than upset. If any layperson tries to “celebrate” a lay led funeral service for me, I swear to God I’ll haunt them.

  • nytor

    Quite, it’s not about a shortage, it’s about a desire to “involve” the laity more. It’s ideological rather than practical.

  • Lewispbuckingham

     There is a lot of scope here for the laity to take over the non ministerial functions of the priesthood.This would take a lot of pressure off the priesthood.

  • scary goat

     If I could “like” this post more than once, I would.

  • Cjkeeffe

    It is interesting that Archbishop Kelly uses a 1990 order of funerals to justify this when teh 1997 Instruction on the collaborstion of the non ordained with the ordained stated taht even if it caused inconveniance priests should preside at funerals as it provides a means of evangisation.Perhaps Liverpools library is a bit of out of date!

  • Cjkeeffe

    Liverpool Aztec pyramid , as an irish descendent i’ve always heard it referred to as Paddy’s WigWam. But I guess the Aztec pryamid refelcts the current diversity of the city. But totally agree with teh notion cutting priesthood by management consultant and brining back proper priests i.e. men of God!

  • Cjkeeffe

    Hi I don’t think the will ida is simony, is simony not the selling of a spiritual benefit? The condition in teh will is simply a condition and nothing more.

  • scary goat

     Thank you for all the information and your comment on debating style.  I can actually see the sense in a lot of what you are saying,  however I still do not feel very comfortable with the idea of lay-led funeral services. I would be more inclined to suggest that some of the other functions of the parish be taken over by lay persons.  Parish Pastoral Councils provide a good opportunity to delegate large amounts of the day to day running of the parish to lay persons.  Things like FHC and Confirmation preparation can be looked after by deacons or qualified catechists. Is it really necessary for priests to attend all school governor meetings?  Is it not sufficient for them to be on call if there is a problem, or advice is needed? Ok, point taken, a funeral  is not a Sacrament, but it is nevertheless a very emotional time where people look to a priest to be there and a Requiem Mass provides a sense of comfort. Deacons can provide many functions.  Although I would prefer a priest for a baptism, for example, I wouldn’t object to a Deacon. A Deacon cannot, however, offer Mass. I suppose if there was a real shortage of priests, maybe a Deacon for funerals might just about be acceptable? But lay-led funerals? 

    I do also think, as another poster said, that some of this is “political”.  A couple of years ago I was at a large diocesan meeting about the projected shortage of priests, and the question was basically, what will we do? how will we cope? It was largely about PPCs etc.  The question was raised, how will we manage with priests spread thin on the ground?  My suggestion was more deacons in supportive roles.  The clamour immediately went up from the feminist faction, no, we don’t want more deacons, that is just perpetuating male dominated clericalism, we want more lay involvement.  To be honest I was a bit “gobsmacked”, not only at this reaction but also that it was allowed to pass unchallenged.

    Also you mentioned “other” funerals for non-practising Catholics and even non-Catholics. If cut-backs must be made, isn’t it fair to take into account the views of the deceased and their families? A practising Catholic who wishes for a proper Requiem Mass for their funeral, shouldn’t that take priority?  And a “delayed” Requiem Mass, as soon as possible?  Well, where it is impossible to do otherwise, ok, but on an emotional level to be honest it feels a bit “off”.  Wouldn’t a better answer be to cut back on the “extras”?  Keep a requiem Mass short and sweet.  It only takes barely more time than a standard Mass. The actual priest wouldn’t necessarily have to do anything other than offer the Mass.  A deacon for the comittal? a deacon or admin staff to make arrangements?

    I don’t know, I am only making suggestions, but I really would have thought lay-led funerals should be a last resort in dire circumstances only.

  • Peter

    If you insist on a requiem mass, only a priest can preside.

    As for declining priests, that is a nonsense.

    There are thousands of young men who want to enter seminary in the third world but are turned away  due to lack of funds.

    If we want a steady supply of priests for the future they have to come from abroad and we need to fund them.

    Ironically it costs a fraction to train them there compared with what it costs here.

  • Mollie

    I totally agree with the comments of Pillarpark.  I gew up in a parish in the East Midlands of 2,000 parishioners with ONE PARISH PRIEST - who celebrated 3 Masses every Sunday! In my personal experience of parish priests today – having worked as a Parish Secretary – they are definitekly NOT overworked!!  I worked 3 days a week, (unpaid), from 10.00 am in the morning until 7.00pm, (having being asked on each Monday to lock up the church at 7.00pm   that being the Parish Priest and his assistant priests’ day off – Golfing). One particular Monday I was in the office when the Parish Priest returned and I said I was pleased to have seen him before I left as there were one or two things I wished to draw to his attention. I could immediately tell that he was not interested in what I had to say which prompted me to ask him “if he was not interested”?  I then realized that of course he was not interested  –  as this, (being 7.00pm), was still his day off …… enough said!  Shame of you Archbishop Kelly – - –  SHAME on YOU!!
    It is interesting to note that this article has appeared in the Tablet!  If it had not been for the diabolical misinterpretaion by our Bishops after Vatican II the Church would not be in the crisis it is in today. And PLEASE do not blame present day society! God help them all when they stand before God and are asked to give an account of their Stewardship!

  • Ben Trovato

    I think the point is that you can’t insist on a Requiem Mass.  The diocesan leaflet is quite clear:  “It cannot be guaranteed that all the deceased’s wishes will be fulfilled, even where a pre‐paid funeral plan has been arranged.”

  • Pillarpark

     The diocesan brochure (single page) says ‘..but if the majority of the mourners would not be able to participate fully in a Mass, ..’ a funeral service may be led by a Lay Funeral Minister.I might be missing something but surely the deciding factor as to whether or not the soul of the deceased is deserving of a Funeral Mass should not be based on the strength of the Catholic faith of his or her family and friends. I always thought the main point of a requiem mass was for the concern of the deceased’s soul and that the power of the mass offered was not dependent upon the beliefs (or lack of) of the mourners.The inevitable outcome of such a move will be a hierarchy of deserving and undeserving souls and it is easy to know who the losers will be that will be deprived of a funeral mass, i.e. those souls in most need of a funeral mass.BTW other than a link to the actual diocesan brochure (page), I have found it very difficult to find any thoughts or opinions on this matter from any priests (or the Archbishop) in Liverpool or anywhere else for that matter. It seems that other than the mention in The Tablet, nobody else knows anything about this secretive band of Twenty-two lay ‘funeral ministers’.I say, put your trust firmly in God and his priests. It is only when we lack faith, hope and trust in God to provide us with more good priests and strengthen the priests we currently have, that we fail and then have to start looking for the man-made solutions of using lay-people as pseudo-priests.

  • paulpriest

     Sorry but what lack of funds?
    The majority of prospective seminarians have been denied the opportunity to discern their vocation and train for the priesthood on ideological grounds:

    a] by Tabletista-type wilfully anti-clericalist vocations-scrutiny committees [especially on the south coast] where if any positions of a candidate do not coincide with an agenda of lay-empowerment, church recognition of ‘women’s roles’, a recognition of ‘reproductive rights and sexual dignity & its expression and a ‘social justice/eco-awareness/global sustainability’ – then out those candidates go!

    b] by a conspiracy among the professional clergy/laity towards a Futurechurch paradigm – where a lack of priests forces the dismantlement of the parish system and the creation of superchurches at central urban hubs – with adjacent [lucrative] pastoral/religious education centres – designed to accommodate enthusiastic [middle-class] ‘professional lay’ participation and where rather than having ‘ordinary’ priests – each and every one can ‘specialise’ at whim on their favourite ‘charism’  be it holding retreats or ‘giving good committee’ or engaging in navel-gazing ‘counselling/group therapy’ sessions or  becoming a vaudevillian preaching megastar or a socratic teaching demigod surrounded by enthusiastic acolytes, or becoming the super social-worker and political activist, or a hospital/prison hand-holder….

    But traditional parish praxis and pastoral duties – being a member of all families yet belonging to none – being a shepherd to a flock – being there and living through a life of matching, hatching and despatching and all the angst, turmoils, tears, sorrows, smiles and joys of a community life?
    Are gone!!!!

  • Bozark

    Well, if people regularly participate in an Extraordinary Form community, they will get their Requiem Mass.  The bishop would do better to examine why he has a shortage of priestly vocations and take appropriate action.

  • Peter

    I’m talking about lack of funds in Africa and Asia for the training of priests and maintenance of seminaries.  There is a groundswell of young men who wish to join but they are put on hold until funds become available.

    We in the UK are now mission territory.  These young men from the developing world are our priests – not all of them because most will remain in their home countries – but many of them will be our priests of the future.  That way God continues to provide for his Church.

    We must do our part and find more funds at parish level to fund seminaries in developing countries so that not one young man is turned away or told to wait.  

    God has made it easy for us by making every pound we send worth around ten or twenty times as much in the countries that receive it, boosting spending power at local level and making the formation of priests all the more viable.

  • paulpriest

     …erm you remember the ‘integration pastoral training’ a pre-Bishop Drainey engaged in at Ushaw where foreign priests were basically ordered to accommodate themselves to ‘contemporary western pastoral paradigms’?

    despite a few Bishops and quite a few Parish priests welcoming foreign priests with open arms – the prevailing argot among the professional laity/clergy is one of antipathy; if not downright hostility…

  • Benedict Carter

    The concern of the New Theology is not with the state of the deceased’ soul nor with his eternal Salvation but purely with the here and now – the community, the group, their feelings (whether produced by this morning’s bacon and eggs or last night’s argument with the wife). 

    The New Theology which produced this directive from His Grace and his Marxist Priests’ Collective (=the archdiocese’s Council of Priests) doesn’t believe in the soul nor in eternal Salvation.If you want a Catholic funeral and your soul commended to God through the Sacraments of Holy Church, FIND A TRADITIONAL PRIEST AND MAKE YOUR OWN ARRANGEMENTS WITH HIM AND IN W|RITING IN A WILL.

    This Novus Ordo anti-Church is no good. Our Lady told Sr. Lucia of Fatima this.

  • Gamartin

    Wow, rationing religious services by the Catholic Church:

    Is the criteria for Requiem Mass vs. Service based on the amount of money the deceased put in the collection plate at Sunday Mass?   Seems fair when you think of it, almost like paying for an indulgence.  Hmm,  how else could they possibly decide who gets what?

    My suggestion: if you think you are nearing death move to a different diocese.  It is worth it.

    What ever happened to the mission of “saving souls”?

  • Rizzo the Bear

    God forgive me, I’ve never been that keen on Archbishop Kelly – even when he was just a plain old roller-shutter Bishop of Salford i.e. shutting churches down left, right and centre.

    Let us pray that Pope Benedict will put a stop to this crazy joke of a lay funeral mullarkey as he did with the equally ludicrous Liturgy of the Word with Holy Communion.

  • Rizzo the Bear

    Same here, nytor! I’ll become a poltergeist and haunt them, too!

  • Tomcanning

    Trouble is Rizzo that your so called priests to-day and NOT properly formed – educated and ordained priests but rather installed as presbyters to be hosts at the communal meal instead of the priest as Christus offering His bloodless Sacrifice to to His Father in Heaven –  that’s why the Archbishop has probably got it right as a funeral is nothing as we are ALL going to heaven  - JP11 said so – it MUST be right.
    My wife had a full Solemn Requiem Mass just this past January – reception into the Church the evening before with prayers – full Mass and burial…..but the priest was from the SSPX –  and what do they know – they are not even in full communion – give them a ring at Preston if you want a real funeral

  • Tomcanning

    I have always thought  of it as the Mersey Funnel

  • Tomcanning

    You are right – Paul V1 was not a communist- he was a 33rd degree mason – it was John XX111- with his pact of Metz that 
    initially tied down the discussion of Communism – see the Book by Rev Luigi Villa D Th on why Paul Vi was not canonized – might open your eyes a bit further


  • Tomcanning

    Hear Hear – sooner the better before it all disappears from the Uk- and also read Iota Unem

  • Ben Fuad

    It’s affirmation of wyman “priests” on a stick.

  • Benedict Carter

    Anything that leads to a diminution of the Priesthood is “neo-protestant”. You might perhaps read some Church history. 

    What was it that the Protestants detested above all other things?

    The Mass and the Priesthood. 

    These directives (deliberately) take us down the same road. 

  • Benedict Carter

    Yes, exactly that.

  • Jack Hughes

     sorry ben but its my RIGHT (bar being a public scandal like ted kill children kennedy- who had a cardinal and several priests a his requium) to have a requium Mass, thus stands the LAW of the Church. I can tell you that if any priest (thank GOD that I don’t live in Liverpool) tried to pawn me off to a lay led celeberation of fuzzy duzzy then I’d forgo the beatific vision for a while so I could haunt him for the rest of his life – btw I think that his Grace needs to seriously consider his position, If I were him I would have been touring the Parishes encouraging the young men he has left at least THINK of the Priesthood

  • Mollie

    I totally agree and I myself telephoned my solicitors a number of years ago making arrangements for a Traditonal Funeral having just returned from the “Catholic” funeral of a dear friend!  I strongly suggest more of you do the same …….. !!

  • Peter

    The first step is for us in the developed world to help train the booming number of seminarians in developing countries and to make sure none are turned away due to lack of funds.  God will do the rest.

    They are the green shoots of the Church.

  • paulpriest

    Forgive me for being a little bit obtuse on the issue – and admittedly it’s been 23 years since I did my Canon law exams…

    But a Lay Person CAN’T perform a funeral – and I’m not talking about a requiem mass I mean a funeral rite…

    They’re only permitted to do Repositions and Internments if, for a grave reason, a Priest or Deacon cannot attend…

    I may be being somewhat naiive – or out-of-date with new rules [JPII of Blessed memory was renowned for backdoor amendments to what Bishops' Conferences could get away with]

    …and although Archbishop Kelly [while he was Bishop of Salford] and myself had our run-ins in seminary over the age for Confirmation so I’m fully aware we have different perspectives on sacramental grace and its symbolisation of the Divine Order…

    Could someone please explain to me:


  • hopefroreurope

    Well, are we surprised? The Hierarchy in this Archdiocese has been liberal for the last 25 years at least. Sacramental programmes are so flimsy that the orthodox Catholics it does have can see right through them. This is the last straw for many and I for one will refer this to Rome! Every person or family whose has requested a Requiem Mass BEFORE BURIAL should not be denied this right. I am sure many orthodox priests within the diocese will be delighted to celebrate Requiem Masses.

  • nytor

    I hope you do refer it to Rome. Copy in that useless excuse for an archbishop so he knows he has been reported.

  • nytor

    “Liturgy of the Word with Holy Communion”

    I regret to inform you that this is making a comeback in the archdiocese of Birmingham due to a supposed “shortage of priests” and as it isn’t fair on the poor laity to have them go without daily communion. As though many of them are in a fit state to receive it daily anyway!

  • nytor

    “These young men from the developing world are our priests”

    We have our own vocations. It’s just that the bishops discourage them.

  • mark

    Well said Paul. These are the two dimensions that particularly concerned me about this news: the lack of commitment to the metaphysical importance of the Mass, and the lack of importance of our priests and what they achieve. This, surely, is an ever-decreasing circle which can only lead to further anti-clericalism.

  • nytor

    Much of what goes on in that archdiocese is about 40 years out of date.

  • nytor

    “The clamour immediately went up from the feminist faction, no, we don’t want more deacons, that is just perpetuating male dominated clericalism, we want more lay involvement.”

    Quite. This is the attitude of people who govern dioceses in this country, and it is bordering on the heretical. We must combat it.

  • Ben Trovato

    It looks as though you are right. Certainly the ‘Order of Christian Funerals’ on the UK Liturgy Office’s www site says:

    ‘When no priest is available, deacons, as ministers of the word, of the altar, and of charity, preside at funeral rites. 

    When no priest or deacon is available for the vigil and related rites or the rite of committal, a layperson presides.’ 

    That seems clear to me: only deacons (not laity, as proposed by the Liverpool leaflet) are authorised to stand in for a priest at the main funeral rites. Lay people are only allowed to lead ‘the vigil and related rites or the rite of committal.’

    Throughout, the Order makes it clear that a Funeral Mass is the norm; anything else is permitted only as a serious exception.

  • Rizzo the Bear

    Thank you for the painful info, nytor. What you say is so true, re daily communion.

    Unless I’m very much misinformed, only a priest who can hear confession so that your soul is in a fit state of grace to receive Our Lord?

    Think about it, people. We hear this pre-recorded excuse played out time and time again that there is a shortage of priests so that the poor laity is provided this LWHC, low-calorie funerals… hmmmmmmmm….

    Doesn’t quite scan, does it?

    Are these Archdiocese not answerable to the CDF at HQ (Vatican)?

    An awful thought has just occured to me. God forgive me, the next thing we’ll know is that laity will be trained to hear confessions and are made to sign a confidentiality clause similar to the Official Secrets Act!

    Absured scenario? Out of the question? Unthinkable? That’s what I thought when I read the headline to this discussion!


  • Rizzo the Bear

    Thanks for the tip, re the SSPX. May I express my condolences and offer prayers for your bereavement.

    If the good, long-suffering Roman Catholics of the Liverpool Archdiocese do as you did for your wife, then surely it will have the Vatican asking Archbishop Kelly tough questions he will find impossible to wriggle out of.

    With any luck and plenty of prayers! ;-)