Comments: General Synod - questions and answers

From the list of Questions asked of the Chairman of the Litugical Commission, I was interested to read the Chair's answer to a question from Rev. Sister Rosemary, CHN, re the apparent restriction on who may administer the Sacrament of Anointing.

The Bishop of Wakefield stated categorically that Canon B37 "is clear in speaking of that ministry being undertaken by a priest. There is no canonical basis for other ministers to anoint."

I am surprised that the C.of E. has not opened up this ministry - anointing of the sick - to be administered by suitably commissioned persons (e.g. deacons, religious, and others who are allowed, currently to administer the Sacrament of Holy Communion). Both sacraments are consecrated by a priest or bishop. What is to prevent others than the consecrator from administering a like sacrament - when duly authorised by the clergy?

I'm not sure of the Roman Catholic position on the administration of the Sacrament of Holy Unction (no longer called 'extreme unction'), but I'm sure that licensing of deacons and religious, at least, would enable a greater coverage of the people who need the sacrament - especially in view of their growing shortage of priests.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 16 August 2009 at 4:52am BST

In relation to the RC procedure, Rhidian Jones in his book The canon law of the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England, highlights c.1003 s.1 where it says that the sacrament can only be administered by a presbyter.

In relation to the question about other authorized persons anointing, the question would be whether the words and prayers that accompanied the anointing formed part of the sacrament. The other interesting thing to note, is that the consecration of the oils doesn't seem to be a sacrament in itself. The name of the sacrament is Holy Unction, so the "sacramental moment" (if there is such a term) is at the time of anointing. In the Eucharist the sacramental moment is after the canon (or if you're a bit orthodox, at the end of the whole Eucharistic prayer).

Posted by Father Neil Shave at Thursday, 28 October 2010 at 10:42am BST
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