WelCom February 2023
Three Catholic bishops in Switzerland have issued a reminder that only ordained presbyters can preside at the Eucharist, following a laywoman’s ‘concelebration’ at a retirement Mass.
The Catholic bishops of the three German-speaking dioceses in Switzerland – Basel, Chur and Sankt Gallen – have published a letter calling for compliance with liturgical rules regarding the sacramental authority that is attributed solely to the Church’s ordained priests.
‘You all know that only the priest validly presides at the Eucharist, grants sacramental reconciliation and administers the anointing of the sick,’ the three bishops state in the letter.
It is a clear response to what’s come to be known in Switzerland as the ‘Monika Schmid affair’. Schmid, who served many years as the de facto administer of a parish in the Chur diocese, ‘concelebrated’ at a Eucharistic celebration last August to mark her retirement. In the days immediately following, Chur’s Bishop Joseph Bonnemain ordered a preliminary canonical investigation into ‘liturgical abuses’.
Now the new letter – signed by Bishops Joseph Bonnemain, Felix Gmür and Markus Büchel – has been seen as a warning to Catholics who may be tempted to introduce unlawful liturgical initiatives.
The letter is addressed to pastoral workers in particular. Aware of the tensions concerning the place of laity in the Church, the bishops remind the Catholics of their dioceses to rely on the synodal process as the place to discuss ecclesial developments.
The bishops insist they are not trying to defend any sort of ‘patriarchal clericalism’, arguing that ‘priests, in the service and execution of the sacraments, make visible that Jesus Christ himself acts in and through the sacraments. They keep open, as it were, space for God’s action in the liturgy’.
The discipline of the Catholic Church, the three prelates say, requires ‘a sacramental designation, that is, ordination, to preside at the celebration of the Eucharist and to say the Eucharistic prayer as a concelebrating priest’.
Source: La Croix