Canadian archdiocese authorises non-priests to administer baptism, marriage
Archbishop Marcel Gervais of Ottawa has said he will appoint laypeople, including nuns, and deacons to begin providing the sacraments of baptism and marriage and oversee burials in the absence French-speaking priests, Catholic World News reports.
Archbishop Gervais told the Ottawa Citizen that the idea is "not just solving problem, but a new model of church." He said, "We want to move away from the consumer model, where the priest supplies all the needs of the consumers, to a model of participation."
While part of the plan is to appoint pastoral administrators to parishes that do not have a priest in residence, a common occurrence in many dioceses around the world that have a shortage of priests, the granting of permission to baptize, marry, and bury parishioners to laypeople is new.
Sr Jeannine Gauthier, who has been working at the parish of Notre Dame de Lourdes in Vanier for four years is responsible for the maintenance and administration of the parish, and has now been given permission to baptize, marry and bury parishioners, when no priest or deacon is available.
"This is a totally new mode of functioning. The bishop is excited and I'm excited," she told the newspaper.
Many of the openings will be filled by permanent deacons who are granted permission to marry, baptise, and officiate at funerals by virtue of receiving the sacrament of holy orders. There are now 50 deacons working in parishes in the Archdiocese of Ottawa and another 17 in formation.