Monika Schmid worked in the parish at Saint Martin of Illnau-Effretikon Church in the canton of Zurich. On the occasion of her departure she “concelebrated” a “Eucharist” with a Capuchin priest, Josef Regli, the new parish priest, Félix Hunger, accompanied by the deacon Stefan Arnold, and a theologian, Marion Grabenweger.
At the time of her departure, Monika Schmid held the position of “parish leader” – in other words “curette” – of Saint Martin parish. She is being replaced by a priest. The farewell ceremony, on Sunday August 28, 2022, gave rise to a most singular concelebration, and to be honest, a sacrilege. The story is told by kath.ch – in the German language.
The “liturgical team” is headed by the “Gemeindeleiterin,” the parish leader, holding a baton in her hand, no doubt to demonstrate her role as leader. Then, everyone takes off their shoes to imitate the gesture of Moses in front of the burning bush.
The sermon is given by the “curette” – in defiance of liturgical and disciplinary laws – and Monika Schmid talks about her service record: baptisms, marriages… Unfortunately, it is too well known that in German-speaking Switzerland, a parish is often headed a leader who directs, a priest, and a deacon. The “last sermon” is greeted by a standing ovation, as in a show or a stadium.
Then the “concelebration” continues. The article asks: “A woman concelebrates? Normal thing in Effretikon.” Duly noted. This is not a first. And it seems difficult to imagine that Msgr. Joseph Bonnemain, Bishop of Chur, on which the parish depends, knew nothing about it. The Our Father makes reference to a “Maternal and paternal God in heaven,” and is concluded by a triple Shalom.
This celebration is sacrilegious. Admittedly, because of the presence of two priests who pronounced the words of consecration, the validity seems assured, although, given the circumstances, it is really permissible to ask whether they wanted to do what the Church does.
But the pronunciation of the words of consecration by two laymen – not to mention the deacon – which manifests itself as a “concelebration,” is quite simply a travesty of the sacrament on the part of these three persons, who have no power to act in persona Christi. And besides, for the assistants, it is clear that this is a real concelebration.
Some may reply that this is nothing new: there are priests who, during Masses for children, invite the young participants to say the canon with them. But abuse can never justify abuse. And if, in the case that has just been mentioned the children do not really know what they are doing, there is no room for doubt in the case that concerns us here.
Moreover, the article emphasizes that: “Monika Schmid never concealed where she saw her role in the Church: also at the altar, also by breaking bread by the order of Jesus: “Do this in memory of me.” It is therefore a desired and assumed attitude.
Faced with such a scandal, what will the authority do? The affair having gained momentum because of its media coverage, Bishop Bonnemain had to react. On September 2, he communicated: “As a diocesan bishop, I have the duty to react to the events of recent weeks in relation to the retirement of the chaplain of the parish of St. Martin” by opening a canonical investigation.
The press release admits: “The complexity of the liturgical abuses that have taken place requires the opening of a preliminary canonical inquiry” which will make it possible to judge “whether these are offenses the judgment for which is reserved for the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith and which must therefore be reported.”
But will the bishop go all the way? Will he then investigate the other parishes of his diocese – particularly in his part of Zurich, the most progressive – to verify that the evil has not already completely corrupted it? Will he make a report about everyone?
Finally, these sacrilegious abuses should not surprise us. The liturgical and theological revolution set up by the Second Vatican Council could not fail to lead to this situation..