Religious Sister “Preaches” a Homily at Einsielden Abbey

August 08, 2021
Einsielden Abbey in the Canton of Schwyz

For the first time in the history of Einsiedeln Abbey, a woman preached at Mass. Irene Gassmann, prioress of the convent of Fahr, did so in participation with the national initiative “Helvetia preaches.”

An ecumenical campaign called “Helvetia preaches” incited women involved in churches in Switzerland - Catholic or Protestant - to preach on Sunday August 1, 2021. This incitement was followed in several parts of the country.

Sister Irene Gassmann, prioress of the Convent of Fahr, asked Bishop Urban Federer, Father Abbot of Einsielden - the oldest abbey in Switzerland - to be allowed to preach the August 1 homily in the famous abbey.

The request was accepted. This is how this sister gave the homily at Mass on Sunday August 1, 2021, which is also Swiss National Day.

Preaching has always been reserved for clerics who have received at least the diaconate: in other words, bishops, priests and deacons (c. 1342, § 1 of the 1917 Code).

Although clerics of lower rank may exceptionally be admitted to preaching, lay people, even religious, are never admitted to preach in churches (c. 1342, § 2 of the 1917 Code).

The new Code admits, against all Tradition, that “the laity can be admitted to preach in a church or an oratory if the need requires it in certain circumstances… remaining the exception, C.767, §1)” (C.766 of the 1983 Code).

However, C.767, §1 prescribes: “The homily, which is part of the liturgy itself is reserved for the priest or the deacon....”

Thus, this preaching is a marked violation of canon law, and, through it, an act of contempt for the whole Tradition of the Church.

This kind of initiative will not be able to change anything in divine law, codified in the law of the Church: the one who has the power to preach in a diocese is the bishop, as well as his delegates who have received at least the diaconate.