'Lord, you made us a kingdom, and priests to serve our God': The priesthood of the laity
by Sr Tamsin Geach o.p.
When I undertook to give this talk it was the fruit of a long-standing frustration I have had with some Catholics, who when you mention the priesthood of the laity and how important it is will say ‘Yes indeed, there should be more readers, more extraordinary ministers of communion, and lay people should be allowed to preach in church.’ Regardless of whether one agrees with the sentiments thus expressed, this is not the priesthood of the laity. This is the priesthood of the clergy, in which the laity may assist in various ways, but which is not proper to them. Although as Canon Law states: " When the necessity of the Church warrants it and when ministers are lacking, lay persons, even if they are not lectors or acolytes, can also supply for certain of their offices, namely, to exercise the ministry of the word, to preside over liturgical prayers, to confer Baptism, and to distribute Holy Communion in accord with the prescriptions of the law" [Code of Canon Law, Can. 230, par. 3.] this does not make Pastors of the lay faithful: Only the Sacrament of Orders gives the ordained minister a particular participation in the office of Christ, the Shepherd and Head, and in his Eternal Priesthood [Cf. Presbyterorum Ordinis, 2 and 5.]
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