NEWS: September 26, 2012
Bird’s Eye View of the News
Atila Sinke Guimarães
LAY FUNERAL MINISTERS IN PERSPECTIVE - This month Archbishop Patrick Kelly of Liverpool raised general attention by institutionalizing lay ministers for funerals in his Archdiocese. Given that Liverpool is the heartland of Catholicism in England and Wales, this fact assumes a symbolic significance, setting a landmark for the English-speaking world. Even though we know that this same practice has been already applied here and there in the U.S. and Australia, the example of Liverpool breaks the dam. From now on, lay funeral ministers will spread everywhere.
The alleged pretext is that many people are asking for funerals rites and the number of priests is diminishing. Fr. Graeme Dunne, who is in charge of three parishes in Liverpool, said that he has around 125 funerals a year.
Archbishop Kelly commissions lay ministers to officiate at funeral rites in Liverpool
Commenting on the decision of his Archbishop, he said: “We could muddle on for another couple of years, but sooner or later some priests are going to be overwhelmed” (The Tablet, August 25, 2012, p. 29).
In article trying to justify his initiative, Archbishop Kelly mentions the clearly atypical case of Fr. Philip Inch who had to celebrate 13 funerals in one week (The Tablet, September 1, 2012, p. 8).
To alleviate this burden, the Archbishop consulted with his Council of Priests and decided to commission lay ministers to officiate at funeral rites in his Archdiocese when a priest is not available.
Lack of apostolic zeal
Reading this news, two thoughts came to my mind:
First, I was formed with the idea that a priest’s vocation was not to have a comfortable bourgeois life, allocating just a portion of his time to his ministry. This vocation is - or at least it should be - a life of zeal dedicated to spreading the Gospel, combating for the glory of God and the exaltation of Holy Mother Church, which supposes unlimited sacrifice for the apostolate and the salvation of souls. It is a life of full dedication to a supernatural cause. Now, if this apostolate calls for two funeral rites a day, so be it. If it asks for 30 baptisms a day, so be it. This is what a priest was ordained for. This is what Our Lord Jesus Christ expects from him.
Let me compare the two funerals-per-week of Fr. Dunne - or even the exceptional two funerals-per-day of Fr. Inch - with the efforts demanded of St. Francis Xavier in his apostolate in India, as he reported to St. Ignatius. A reader of the TIA website recently sent me a letter of St. Francis from India, from which I transcribe this excerpt:
St. Francis Xavier had no bourgeois leisure in his apostolic labors
"As for the numbers who become Christians, you may understand them from this: that it often happens that I am hardly able to use my hands from the fatigue of baptizing: often in a single day I have baptized whole villages. Sometimes I have lost my voice and strength altogether from repeating over and over the Credo and the other forms.
"The fruit that is reaped by the baptism of infants, as well as by the instruction of children and others, is quite incredible. These children, I trust heartily, by the grace of God, will be much better than their fathers” (St. Francis Xavier, Letter from India to the Society of Jesus at Rome, 1543).
This is the life of someone who took his priestly vocation seriously. This is what a priest should be.
St. Francis Xavier, however, is not a model for Archbishop Kelly. He wants his priests to have free time to socialize, go to restaurants, watch television, cheer for his favorite football team, surf on the Internet… besides reserving a moment to check the profits of his savings' investments.
To be modern priests according to Vatican II aggiornamento, they also should be in tune with the “signs of the times,” that is, support the latest demands of feminism, the homosexual agenda and Muslim immigration claims, as well as participate in leftist social-political activism alerting as many people as possible about abuses caused by the “structures of sin” of the Western regime of private property.
Thus, with all this time given to this “new evangelization,” Archbishop Kelly is convinced that his priests are overwhelmed when they have more than one funeral a week.
‘Devout Catholics,’ a species in extinction
Second, it surprises me that the Most Excellent Prelate does not realize that if so many people are dying in Liverpool and so few people are being baptized, it means that the present day rate of funerals is transitory. The aged who are dying today are the ones who were devout Catholics before Vatican II. After the Council, however, “devout Catholics” is a species in rapid extinction. This is also why there is a drastic fall in assistance at Mass, so few marriages, and a shortage of priestly vocations.
Anointing of the sick replaces Extreme Unction to prevent the Catholic from facing death
The new conciliar-Catholics coming from progressivist movements, such as the Charismatics, the Neocatechumenal Way and Focolare, are not interested in the solemn traditional funeral rites.
If Archbishop Kelly were sincere in his argument, he would prove to be not so clever: He does not see that this busy time with funerals is transitory. When this wave subsides, his priests will have all time they want to do other things, very few people will be requesting Catholic funerals.
Hence, there seems to be another motive to his installment of lay funeral ministers. I believe this argument of a priest shortage and schedule overload is just a façade.
A new phase of the Conciliar Revolution
The real motive, in my view, is to foster democracy in the Church by increasing the participation of lay people in all possible priestly functions.
Archbishop Kelly refers to this reason in his article: “This is a further development of the baptismal calling of our lay people. It does not take away from the ministry of the ordained, but helps us to see and understand the priesthood of all baptized” (Tablet, September 1. 2012, p. 8).
Archbishop Chaput turns over the secondary schools of his archdiocese to a lay foundation; below, Card. Schonborn, a favorite of Benedict, transfers 660 parishes to lay control
Thus, along with Eucharistic ministers, who still do not consecrate the host but distribute it after consecration, we will have funeral ministers, who do not give the last rites to the sick but recite the burial prayers and direct the service.
The care our dear ones received from Holy Mother Church at their last moments is becoming increasingly sparse. First, the Sacrament of Extreme Unction, whose purpose is to prepare the soul to appear before God at the particular judgment, was relaxed and its name changed to Anointing of the Sick to obviate the moribund from thinking about death and God’s judgment.
Then, Paul VI gave the “permission to cremate,” which actually is a stimulus for cremation, a Masonic and pagan practice of those who do not believe in the resurrection of the body. Now, the Bishops are handing over the funerals rites to laypeople…
I am convinced that this initiative regarding funeral rites is part of a plan. At the same time that Archbishop Kelly is assigning this function to laypeople in Liverpool, Card. Christoph von Schönborn is transferring 660 parishes of his Archdiocese of Vienna to the control of laypeople. In Philadelphia, Archbishop Charles Chaput is handing over all the secondary Catholic schools in his Archdiocese to laypeople, and in San Francisco, Archbishop George Niederauer finished turning over to the hands of laypeople the powerful network of Catholic hospitals directed by his Archdiocese - 40 hospitals and 150 clinics.
It seems that after a phase in the Conciliar Revolution focused on making the Bishops and their Conferences as important as the Pope (an Episcopalian phase), we are now seeing another phase pushed forward, one turned toward making laypeople as important as the priests (an Anabaptist phase). The first phase was carried out by the Popes, the second, by the Bishops. Reportedly the Third Secret of Fatima says that the evil in the Church "comes from the top"…
Related Topics of Interest
Schonborn's Prophecies to Change the Church
Bishop of Augsburg Closes 800 Parishes
Lay-led Masses Demanded in Belgium
Netherlands: Mass Should Be Said by Laymen
What to Think about Cremation?
Catholic Funeral Etiquette - I
Pope Approves The Neocatechumenal Way
New Model of Church Is Shaped in Chiapas
A Glimpse of the Post-Modern Church
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