Adoremus, Society for the Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy
Online Edition - November 2005
Vol. XI, No. 8
CDF confirms “definitively” that only priests not deacons or laity may anoint the sick
Only priests may administer the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, according to a notice of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The text, dated February 11, 2005, was published in the October 21 edition of L’Osservatore Romano.
The CDF’s clarification that this is a matter of doctrine to be held “definitively” is significant, especially because there has been considerable pressure, in recent years, to permit lay people -- usually extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion -- to administer the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.
The note and an accompanying letter, both signed by then-prefect of the Vatican congregation, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was addressed to dicasteries of the Roman Curia, bishops’ conferences and Eastern synods. Both texts follow:
To the Most Eminent and Excellent Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences:
In these last years the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has received several questions about the ministry of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.
In this connection, this Dicastery considers it opportune to send to all pastors of the Catholic Church the attached Note on the Ministry of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick (Cf. Annex 1).
Also transmitted because of its usefulness is a brief note on the history of the doctrine in this regard, prepared by an expert on the subject (Cf. Annex 2).
In communicating the foregoing, I take advantage of the occasion to offer you my best regards and to confirm my devotedness,
+ Joseph Card. Ratzinger, Prefect
In canon 1003, paragraph 1 (Cf. also can. 739 paragraph 1 of the Code of Cannons of the Oriental Churches), the Code of Canon Law includes exactly the doctrine expressed by the Tridentine Council (Session XIV, can. 4: DS 1719; Cf. also the Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1516), according to which only priests (bishops and presbyters) are ministers of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.
This doctrine is “definitive tenenda”. Neither deacons nor lay persons therefore may exercise such ministry and any action in this connection is a simulation of the sacrament.
Rome, from the headquarters of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, February 11, 2005, in the Memoria of the Virgin of Lourdes.
+ Joseph Card. Ratzinger, Prefect
+ Angelo Amato, S.D.B.
Titular Archbishop of Sila, Secretary
**Adoremus operates solely on your generous donations.**
Adoremus is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Donations are tax deductible.
Site Copyright © 1999 - Present by Adoremus
All rights reserved.
All material on this web site is copyrighted and may not be copied or reproduced without prior written permission from Adoremus, except as specified below:
Permission is granted to download and/or print out articles for personal use only.
Brief quotations (ca 500 words) may be made from the material on this site, in accordance with the “fair use” provisions of copyright law without prior permission. For these quotations proper attribution must be made of author and Adoremus + URL (i.e., Adoremus or Adoremus Bulletin www.adoremus.org.)
Generally, all signed articles or graphics must also have the permission of the author. If a text does not have an author byline, Adoremus should be listed as the author. For example: Adoremus (St Louis: Adoremus, 2005 + URL)
Link to Adoremus web site.
Other web sites are welcome to establish links to www.adoremus.org or to individual pages within our site.
Home | Join/Donate | Adoremus Bulletin | Archive | Index | Church Documents | Architecture | Posture | Music | Translation | What's NEW? | FAQ | Search Site | Site Map