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Report says Vatican approves lay sermons in Switzerland

The London Tablet is reporting that proposals by Swiss bishops to allow lay theologians to give sermons and Protestants to receive Communion have met with the approval of the Curia in Rome.

The news was said to have been delivered last week by Bishop Amédée Grab, president of the Swiss bishops' conference.

The Tablet says that the Swiss church is having to cope with a shortage of priests and in an effort to deal with the crisis its bishops' conference has come up with controversial plans to make greater use of the laity serving as pastoral assistants.

The Swiss bishops' conference was said to have declared that the assistants (who hold university degrees in theology) are to be allowed to preach during Mass and baptise whenever a priest was not available.

However, in an update to our earlier posting on this site, the Austrian news service - which had a journalist at the press conference - directly contradicts The Tablet.

It says: "[Bishop] Grab of Chur stressed during the press conference, that "no priest shall be hindered to preach, and that no lay people are allowed to give a homily."

The mis-reporting also occurred in a number of other publications. It prompted Pro Ecclesia, a conservative Catholic group, to comment that it looked very much as if, shortly before setting out for Rome, the Swiss bishops were determined to "present the Vatican with a fait accompli".

Lay sermons permitted, Vatican tells Swiss bishops (The Tablet 12/2/05)
Swiss Controversy on homilies by lay people (Kath.Net 15/2/05)

Swiss Catholic Bishops Conference

Switzerland: The Bishops Conference and the preaching of the laity (Society of St Pius X Documentation)

Vatican paper recalls history of Vatican City state ( 15/2/05)
New cardinals possible this year, says Vatican observer (Catholic News Agency 11/2/05)
L'Osservatore reflects on Lateran Accords (Catholic World News 11/2/05)
John L. Allen: Condi Rice at the Vatican (National Catholic Reporter 11/2/05)
Vatican Celebrates 76 Years Since Lateran Pacts (Zenit 11/2/05)
Vatican: Rice says Holy Land, religious freedom on U.S. agenda (Catholic News Service 9/2/05)
Vatican Raises Polish Cardinal's Age (The Guardian/Associated Press 9/2/05)

16 Feb 2005