Altar Girls and the Pope’s New Document

Q:  With the Pope’s Spiritus Domini document, the girls of our country are enthusiastic in becoming altar girls.  But after reading your article “Canon Law and Altar Girls” and Spiritus Domini, I understood that the Acolyte and Lector ministries which were abolished after Vatican 2 were reinstated again.  But this time, both male and female lay people can be taken in for the ministry.  Have I grasped this correctly?

Secondly, our Archbishop issued a document for his diocese in 2010, and … it says that altar girls are not permitted in the Archdiocese.  Now since interpretation of the canon 230.2 was released in 1992, in favour of altar girls, and also since the canon doesn’t give permission to individual Ordinaries to decide on the matter, is the ban on altar girls legal?

Thirdly, can the Archbishop adhere to the same law he has issued saying NO to altar girls even now, since the Pope has changed the law.  And in any case, can a Parish Priest legally say he doesn’t like to start altar girls in his parish?  Thank You. –Fernando Continue reading

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Do Children Have to Make Their First Communion at Their Own Parish?

Q1: My youngest daughter is ready for first communion.  She has attended the catechism classes, she has done all the required steps.  Our priest is also a friend and knows that very well.  He has given communion to our five older children.  Yet, with time we grew really tired of all the fuss of First Communion masses, with the photographers drawing attention to the wrong things….  We also disagree with the way things are done in our parish about this.  We had bad experiences with some of our older children.  And now with the new pandemic laws, things got really strange over here.  We … got tired of all the superfluous (sic) that goes along with it.

We would love to simply take advantage of a family pilgrimage to a Marian shrine and have her doing her first communion there, without photographers, without fuss … in a public shrine during Sunday mass.

In fact, we got this idea from an American blog we trust.  The blogger’s children so far have done their first communion like this, one of them here in Fátima, some years ago.  Because the blogger is so in tune with the Church, we thought she might have some kind of say here…

Is this possible? What do we need in order to do that?  Can a priest say “no” to us, if we ask him before mass to give first communion to our daughter, supposing we have with us a letter of permission from our parish priest? –Maria

Q2: I sent my oldest child to catechism classes at our parish last year, until they were cancelled due to coronavirus, but I have always taught my kids about the faith at home…. There’s a Marian sanctuary nearby, and I would like to simply take them there for First Communion, if and when they start holding them again.  I don’t care about the bells and whistles – I would just like for my kids to get the sacraments….  I could probably find a priest somewhere willing to give First Communion during a mass.

…Assuming that I can find a willing priest and bishop in another diocese, that can and are willing to impart the sacraments, can I simply take my kids there for the sacraments? I’m willing to travel if necessary.

I have not yet spoken to my parish priest, but I doubt that I will get much collaboration from him…. –Megan Continue reading

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Catholic Schools With Non-Catholic Students

Q1:  My children attend a Catholic secondary school [run by a religious institute]. At the first Mass of the year, it was announced that an Anglican vicar would be available to distribute Communion to Anglicans or people from other denominations who were used to receiving Communion in their churches. Catholics should receive from the Catholic ministers.  We have since discovered that this is standard practice at all school Masses.

My husband and I could see how this solution could be seen as a sensitive pastoral response to a school body that is only around 70% Catholic … [but] we wondered what would occur if Muslim pupils wished elements of their faith practice to be incorporated into Mass. Or what of atheist pupils or their parents?

… Despite our assumption that the intention of the priests at the school is honourable and while it may seem to solve a delicate problem, doesn’t it in fact violate how Mass should be celebrated? –Samantha

Q2:  In my province, Catholic education is publicly funded and is widely available. This often leads to non-Catholics sending their children to the local Catholic school.  Sometimes the non-Catholic population is even the majority!

At our school Masses, it is common for Protestant Christian, Orthodox Christian and even atheist students to serve as lectors, cantors/psalmists, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion and altar servers. Is this permitted?

Once a teacher did not know how to distribute Holy Communion, so he simply just handed the chalice to each communicant.  Another time, a teacher identified herself as Orthodox to the celebrant before Mass, asking if it was acceptable for her to distribute Communion. The priest responded in the affirmative.

Now to be fair to my Bishop, he recently put forward a policy requiring all Extraordinary Ministers to be “mandated” by their home parish and to submit a list to the diocese, although its application to school Masses has yet to be seen.

… Whenever I suggested to our school administration that perhaps we should consider not having atheists or Protestants acting in these roles, I was met with great resistance.  Even my Spiritual Director is having a hard time pointing to a specific document dealing with this, because it is so inconceivable!   –John Paul Continue reading

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Repost: Is Confession Still an Easter Duty?

(This was written some time ago, but since it has become incredibly popular during the Lenten season, it seems worthwhile to bring it to readers’ attention once again.  Note that declarations of a “pandemic” do not eliminate the clergy’s responsibility to make the sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist available to the faithful, insofar as they are physically able to do so.  A blessed Easter to all!)

Q: When I was a kid, everyone was required during Lent to make his “Easter Duty.” Every parishioner received a card from the parish. When we went to confession before Easter, we handed the card to the priest. By Easter he had a huge stack of cards, showing which parishioners had made their Easter Duty and who hadn’t. But nowadays, people hardly ever go to confession like they used to, and nobody ever talks about Easter Duty. Has this requirement been abolished like so many other things? –Janet Continue reading

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Canon Law and the Mass Pro Populo

Q: At my parish, the same Sunday Mass used always to be the one celebrated by the pastor pro populo.  No stipend was ever taken for that Mass because it was not for anyone’s personal intention.

In the past few years, though, the pro populo Mass has been routinely shifted to a different Mass which is almost never celebrated by the pastor himself, and is attended by very few people.

The only possible reason for this change that I can see is simply financial: more stipends for the other Sunday Masses by shifting the pro populo Mass to one that often has no stipend offered or intention requested at all.

Can the Sunday Mass pro populo be celebrated by another priest?  I believe that the parish priest can even celebrate the pro populo Mass by himself if he’s travelling, for example; he doesn’t have to celebrate it within the parish.  But can he effectively exclude the majority of parishioners from it and turn the duty of celebrating it over to another priest or priests, on a more-or-less regular or permanent basis? –Nellie Continue reading

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