Parishoners Offended by Lay Preaching Ban
Catholics in the Archdiocese of Minneapolis-St. Paul were dismayed by a January decision to ban lay preachers in some 29 parishes where specially prepared people had been preaching for over 20 years. Observers believe that Archbishop Harry Flynn stopped the practice in preparation for his more conservative successor, Archbishop John Nienstadt, who took over in May. Flynn described such preaching as a “liturgical abuse” in light of a 2004 Vatican instructional document Redemptionis Sacramentum that narrowed the criteria for lay preaching. However, Patricia Hughes Baumer founder of Partners in Preaching, an organization that has trained over 500 lay preachers in six dioceses, denies that it is an abuse. She points to the 1983 Code of Canon Law permitting lay preaching when deemed useful or necessary. Likewise canon lawyer Sr. Elissa Rinere noted that instructional documents such as Redemptionis Sacramentum should not supersede canon law itself. In the meantime parishioners are wrestling with what to do. Some are considering withholding diocesan assessments while others are repositioning lay preaching to occur before Mass begins.
(National Catholic Reporter 6/13/08 and personal reports)