Overdoing the Anointing of the Sick

Q: I attended Sunday Mass while on vacation … the priest preached about the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.  Here are some of the statements he made.

“We all need to receive this sacrament.”
“Anointing is not just for people who are dying or very ill, it’s for everyone, because you never know when you’re going to die.”
“Catholics should be anointed regularly.  The Church gave us this sacrament for a reason, we should make use of it.”

The priest chided the congregation, because so many parishioners hadn’t come to him to be anointed.  At the end of Mass, people lined up as they do to receive Communion, and from what I could see, the priest anointed each of them quickly on the hand.  This seems to happen regularly at this particular parish.

I have a degree in theology … [and] I know what the Church teaches about this sacrament.  Almost every single thing this priest told the people about anointing was the exact opposite of authentic Catholic doctrine.  You’ll probably tell me to report this to the diocesan bishop, but that’s not my question.  My question to you is, is this anointing that he’s giving every healthy parishioner even valid?  It doesn’t strike me that it would have any effect, if you’re not dying or seriously ill or otherwise in danger of death. –Maria Continue reading

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Opus Dei and Personal Prelatures

Q:  My mom is a supernumerary [i.e., a lay member] in Opus Dei.  She is freaking out because Pope Francis recently forced changes on Opus Dei’s leadership and now they have to change their statutes.  She says that the Pope is trying to destroy Opus Dei….

I read the Pope’s decree and honestly, I can’t see any reason to freak out.  It sounds like a big bureaucratic nothing.  At the same time I don’t completely understand everything the Pope said, so maybe I am missing something huge?

You can probably understand the significance of the Pope’s decree better than my mom and I can … could you decipher what Pope Francis said and tell us whether you think worrying is justified? –Preston Continue reading

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What’s a Benefice? Eliminating Financial Corruption in the Church

Q: Can you please explain what exactly a benefice is, and how it works in the Church today?

…I recently endured a tirade from an anti-Catholic evangelical, who among a million other things was bashing the Church for its financial corruption.  He kept mentioning “benefices,” but I didn’t know what that term even meant, so I held my tongue.

Later I did some research online … I learned that a benefice is an ecclesiastical office with a salary.  But I don’t know why we Catholics never seem to hear this term today?  Is “benefice” synonymous with “office”?  Is the office of the pastor of a parish a benefice, for example?  I don’t understand why the evangelical was criticizing the idea that a clergy needs a salary to live on … [because] evangelical ministers must earn a salary too…. –Judith Continue reading

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Can Laypeople Hold Top Vatican Positions?

Q: My husband and I are hoping that you can clear up our confusion about the significance of this article … about Pope Francis reorganizing the different offices in the Vatican.  It sounds to us like the Pope says that laypeople can now become heads of some Vatican offices, whereas in the past only priests could hold those positions.

Is our understanding accurate?  Is this a good change?  It’s hard for us to understand what this move means … [but] whenever Pope Francis changes something in the Church, we’ve learned to be suspicious…. –Marisol Continue reading

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Leaving a Novice in Limbo

Q: Hello, I am a novice in [a religious institute in Rome]….  I have been a novice for ten years, and keep waiting for the novice master to decide that I can take my vows, but the time always gets extended.  I love this institute and want to become a member, but how long must I wait?  I don’t want to leave…. What can I do? –Renato Continue reading

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