Switzerland: Lay People Seek Clarification From the Vatican

June 01, 2023
Source: fsspx.news

The Swiss Catholic lay group Vera Fides has addressed to Cardinal Arthur Roche, Prefect of the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, a dubium (doubt or question) consisting of five questions on the current practice of delegating sacramental tasks to lay people in the Swiss dioceses.

Vera Fides asks to verify whether the delegation of certain sacramental tasks to lay chaplains, as it is now practiced in the Swiss dioceses of Basel, Chur, and Saint-Gall, complies with the prescriptions of the Catholic Church.

In these dioceses, the bishops would issue, through the missio canonica or the institutio, the general authorization for lay people to deliver the homily during the celebration of the Eucharist and to administer baptism. In Basel and St. Gall, the bishops would in many cases grant an extraordinary delegation for marriage assistance.

These tasks are reserved for priests and deacons by canon law. “In many parishes a practice has become established in which the administration of the sacraments by lay people has become the normal state,” reads the letter to Cardinal Roche.

In half of the parishes of the diocese of Basel, the Sunday Eucharistic celebration is replaced by a liturgy of the word presided over by lay people, with distribution of communion. In many Eucharistic celebrations, the role of the priest has been reduced to the recitation of the words of consecration.

Many Catholics reject these abuses and have already addressed the bishops on this subject. But at the same time, through lack of knowledge of the faith, many Catholics can no longer distinguish between a Eucharistic celebration and a liturgy of the word with distribution of communion.

First of all, Vera Fides asks the dicastery if, given the drop in the number of Catholics in the dioceses mentioned, there is a shortage of priests, and if the practice in these dioceses corresponds to the directives of the Catholic Church. The “clericalization of the laity” leads to growing confusion among Catholics.

Pastoral life is characterized by numerous departures from the Church and a lack of participation in the life of the Church. It is therefore obvious that “the weakening of the sacramentality of the Church does not entail a revitalization of the Church.” Vera Fides therefore hopes there will be a correction of the situation in the three dioceses.