Reminder concerning the minister of the sacrament of Extreme-Unction

Source: FSSPX News


The Osservatore Romano edition of October 21, 2005, published a note from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, dated February 11, 2005 signed by the head of the Congregation, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, and his secretary Mgr Angelo Amato.

The note stipulates that "the Code of Canon Law, in canon 1003 § 1 takes up exactly the doctrine expressed during the Council of Trent, according to which priests alone are the ministers of the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick". It reaffirms that "neither deacons nor lay people may exercise this ministry”, whose "action in this regard would constitute a simulation of sacrament", in other words an invalid sacrament.

Sent to all the episcopal conferences worldwide for information, the note is followed by a "commentary" which explains that "theological trends" questioning this doctrine "had appeared in the past few decades" essentially in "areas where the lack of priests makes the administration of the sacrament more difficult, whereas this difficulty could be resolved if permanent deacons and qualified lay persons were appointed ministers of the sacrament".

This note "is meant to draw attention to the danger of such practices, which, to the detriment of the faith, cause a serious spiritual damage to the sick whom they want to help". Indeed "Catholic theology is based on the Epistle of Saint James for the sacrament of the sick : "Is  any man sick among you? Let him bring in the priests of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick man : and the Lord shall raise him up : and if he be in sins, they shall be forgiven him."