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Homily by seminarian or those in the deacon class who are not yet ordained.

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by January 28, 2018 Canonical Teaching

Question 3: According to Canon # 767 “§1, “the most important form of preaching is the Homily, which is part of the liturgy itself and is reserved to a priest or deacon”. Many times I have seen seminarians (especially those in the deacon class who are not yet ordained) preach at Mass as part of their formation. Should this be allowed for the purpose of formation? or can the Ordinary dispense them from this law for the same purpose?

Answer 3: Homily is an integral part of the Church’s worship which is reserved only to a priest or deacon. Pope John Paul II stated in his Instruction “Ecclesia de Mysterio, 1997” Art.3 –

“The homily, therefore, during the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, must be reserved to the sacred minister, Priest or Deacon to the exclusion of the non-ordained faithful, even if these should have responsibilities as “pastoral assistants” or catechists in whatever type of community or group. This exclusion is not based on the preaching ability of sacred ministers nor their theological preparation, but on that function which is reserved to them in virtue of having received the Sacrament of Holy Orders. For the same reason the diocesan Bishop cannot validly dispense from the canonical norm since this is not merely a disciplinary law but one which touches upon the closely connected functions of teaching and sanctifying.

For the same reason, the practice, on some occasions, of entrusting the preaching of the homily to seminarians or theology students who are not clerics is not permitted. Indeed, the homily should not be regarded as a training for some future ministry.

All previous norms which may have admitted the non-ordained faithful to preaching the homily during the Holy Eucharist are to be considered abrogated by canon 767, § 1.”

However, homilies in non-eucharistic liturgies may be preached by the non-ordained faithful only when expressly permitted by law and when its prescriptions for doing so are observed. (Ecclesia de Mysterio, 1997 Art.3, par.4).

 

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