Can layperson read Gospel at communal reconciliation


There is going to be a communal reconciliation service at our Church and they asked me to read the Gospel, is this the norm for a lay person to read the Gospel at a communal pennance service?


To begin, if the penance service is going to have general absolution in it, then it should not even occur.

But, if general absolution is not going to be given, then yes, I suppose a layperson could read the Gospel, as it is not a Mass. :shrug:


I do know that a layperson can NEVER read the Gospel during Mass. At other Liturgical functions I would assume the same rule applies but I could be wrong. Check the GIRM. You don’t have to do it if you think it may be wrong. No one is twisting your arm to do it. Choice is yours. I’d ask outside the parish BTW because those inside obviously think it is okay to do.



THere will be no general absolution, there will be individual confession.


Penance services with general absolution are pretty rare these days, although they still occur occasionally, I suppose. They were more common in the 1980s, but the Vatican has been unambiguous in explaining that they are not generally licit. Most penance services have a communal aspect in the beginning, perhaps some prayer and a communal examination of conscience, but end with individual confessions.


The Rite of Penance describes various ceremonies, some having no priest. The General Introduction includes: “37. … Penitential services, moreover, are very useful in places where no priest is available to give sacramental absolution.” So obviously if it this ceremony, with no priest or deacon, then it is O.K. for a lay minister to read the Gospel.

But a “communal reconciliation service” sounds much more like the “Rite for Reconciliation of Several Penitents with Individual Confession and Absolution” where there is a priest. In this situation it is incorrect for a lay reader to proclaim the Gospel. The ceremony description includes:
51. The celebration of the word follows.”

Another book, “Ceremonial of Bishops” gives more information about a Celebration of the Word of God in Part III, Chapter 7: “CELEBRATIONS OF THE WORD OF GOD”. This includes: “224. Celebrations of the word of God should be patterned on the structure of the liturgy of the word at Mass.”

Another part of the book, Ceremonial of Bishops, Part I, Chapter 4, “GENERAL NORMS”, section II “SIGNS OF REVERENCE IN GENERAL” has:

Revence toward the gospel
74. While the gospel reading is being proclaimed at Mass, at a celebration of the word, and at a prolonged vigil, all stand and, as a rule, face the reader.
The deacon solemnly carrying the Book of the Gospels to the ambo is preceded by the censerbearer with the censer and acolytes with lighted candles.
At the ambo the deacon stands facing the people and, with hands joined, says the greeting; …
In the absence of a deacon, a presbyter asks for and receives a blessing from the bishop, and proclaims the gospel reading in the way just described.”

So there are detailed instructions here for how the Gospel is proclaimed in a Celebration of the Word, and it is the same way as at Mass.

So in a Celebration of the Word the Gospel should be read by a Deacon, in the absence of a Deacon by a Priest, in the absence of both by a Bishop, in the absence of these by an Instituted Reader, in the absence of all these by another lay reader.


No. Not only is it not the norm, but it is specifically not permitted.

[63.] “Within the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, the reading of the Gospel, which is “the high point of the Liturgy of the Word”, is reserved by the Church’s tradition to an ordained minister. Thus it is not permitted for a layperson, even a religious, to proclaim the Gospel reading in the celebration of Holy Mass, nor in other cases in which the norms do not explicitly permit it.


Thanks everyone for your help. I am going to call and say that I will not do the reading. Reverance for the Gospel is important. I have been to many Communal Pennance Services before and I have never seen a lay person read the Gospel. Although if I am not mistaken I do believe that the Vatican website is the norms for Mass not Communal Reconciliation.


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