Episcopalian woman did our homily

That’s pretty much it - our homily from a few weeks back was delivered by a local Espicopalian “reverend” that was female. She did an absolutely lovely job, but it seemed wrong. Is this acceptable?

If an Episcopalian woman “priest” actually delivered the homily during mass at your Catholic parish, this was indeed a very grave abuse. I would highly recommend that you politely approach the parish pastor and even write a letter to the bishop.

Can. 767 §1. Among the forms of preaching, the homily, which is part of the liturgy itself and is reserved to a priest or deacon, is preeminent; in the homily the mysteries of faith and the norms of Christian life are to be explained from the sacred text during the course of the liturgical year.

Father Z, on his blog, recently had a post on the issue of lay people (and from a Catholic perspective this woman was indeed a lay person) preaching the homily: wdtprs.com/blog/2014/07/bp-matano-d-rochester-ends-decades-illicit-practice-of-lay-preaching/

This is particularly grave for two additional reasons:

  1. A non-Catholic was asked to preach at the holy sacrifice of the mass. If Episcopalians are not permitted to receive holy communion in the Catholic Church, what gives them the authority to preach in the Catholic Church?
  2. A woman claiming to be a priest preached the homily. The issue of women’s ordination is a hot topic right now in the Catholic Church, and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has classified the attempted ordination of women as a grave canonical crime resulting in automatic excommunication. This does not apply to an Episcopalian, but inviting a woman Episcopalian “priest” to preach at a Catholic mass sends the wrong signal on multiple levels.

No that is very very messed up. The fruits of what is known as the “Spirit” of Vatican 2. All the people who rail against Vatican 2 usually do so out of ignorance because they haven’t read the conciliar documents. Most of the abuses that happen in Novus Ordo parishes are NOT called for in Vatican 2.

Are you sure she was preaching the homily and not giving a “talk” on some subject eg missionary medical work etc.?
If she was preaching at a Sunday mass there is something wrong at your parish. A kind word to the priest outlining your concerns at canonical breaches may be informative on both sides.
If he insists a Episcopalian priestess can preach the homily at mass then your only recourse would be to the bishop. Whether that would do much good is anyone’s guess. Sometimes it seems that it is the laity that are the church militant against liturgical abuse. Hopefully this is not such a case.
In Australia we had a priest teaching our seminarians that there was no physical resurrection. We went to the Bishop who did nothing. We then as a group went to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome. The Bishop was quickly brought to Rome for discussions and the priest no longer was allowed to lecture at the seminary. But if this common heresy of the 60’s had not been quashed by our actions a lot of our future priests would have been contaminated.


What you talkin bout Willis??!!

Grave abuse! Contact your bishop immediately and report what you witnessed.

She shouldn’t even have been giving a missionary talk. God Bless, Memaw

THAT is the question. Still inappropriate, IMO, but you need to be sure. You should always talk to the priest about something like this before going to the Bishop.

My style would be more to try to let it go. I don’t know what good can come out of a confrontation with the priest or much less, the bishop. The “preacher” apparently did a good job nonetheless; we do share a lot with Episcopalians, religiously. As long as she didn’t preach anything at odds with Church teaching, I would try to extract the good from the situation, rather than focus on what was wrong.

Yes I know it was against Canon law; it clearly was wrong to allow her to preach in the context of the Mass. We may never know why it happened. It could very well be that the bishop gave permission for a specific occasion, for good reasons, in which case calling the priest into question would be highly embarrassing.

People make mistakes, they make wrong choices, all the time. If it became a regular occurrence, perhaps then I’d intervene. But as a one-off, I’d be inclined to let it go. I don’t feel the urge to appoint myself as liturgical police. It’s a bit like when someone cuts you off on the highway. You can rage about it, but what will it change? Far better to let it go.

This was more where I was going with it, as this question wasn’t a “who you gonna call?” but a “was this okay?”

She was not giving a talk about being a missionary or calling for donations or anything.

She actually did the homily on Pentecost Sunday, so it was over a month ago. Our church is known to be “progressive” and I know there is very little my complaint would accomplish. Our priest is not one to readily admit fault, either. She did do a nice job. Not that it makes it acceptable, but really, I am not sure any harm was done. Nothing she said was counter to Catholic teaching, and to be honest, I think she was so nervous she put extra effort into making sure it was relatable, inspiring, thought-provoking, etc.

I think that the situation is that this woman’s family has become Catholic whilst she has remained an Episcopalian pastor. This is just my speculation, but I wonder if she is struggling with a conversion because she would lose all her “authority” and status, and our priest was trying to throw her a bone. Oh, well.

It’s probably not okay. But you can ask and question in a respectful manner, even up to the level of the Bishop. Even if it’s in a grey area it is important to bring these things up for discussion so that everyone involved understands there are boundaries.

Surely there were words of introduction / explanation by the priest before this woman began speaking? Was there any kind of preparation of the congregation for this bizarre happening? What was said before she spoke?

I guess I completely disagree.

I know that the general view is that people make mistakes, let it pass, but this creates a deeper set of problems than it might first appear to on the surface.

  1. It gives credence to moral relativism, which is something that already plagues the pews. Talk to parishioners long enough and you’ll find some who are going to tell you "we go to the Catholic church most Sundays, but while out at the lake we go to the . . . . " Letting a protestant minister address the congregation on anything suggest to many that we really agree with this sort of thinking.

  2. It encourages the erroneous view that the Episcopal Church is Catholicism Light, with isn’t true. Disgruntled Catholics who tend to like the appearance of the Mass, but who are bothered by actually having to comply with the teaching of the Magisterium, have long tended to wonder over to the Episcopal Church where they won’t get bothered by all those moral rules. Why encourage that? Shoot, Denver has a Lutheran Church now that specifically pitches a service to Catholics who like the appearance of very traditional Catholic Masses while at the same time wanting to support same gender marriage, etc., thereby allowing people to pretend they are Catholics in good conscience while at the same time ejecting the set of moral teachings they find inconvenient.

  3. It does a disservice to the Episcopal Church itself, which is at war with itself over what it is to be. Right now, Episcopalians are struggling to determine if they think they are Catholic or think they are Protestant. A big part of that had to do with their ordination of women and same gender marriage. By doing this, we accidentally support the more “protestant” elements of the Episcopal Church by suggesting we don’t take these issues very seriously, within it.

  4. It also suggests that we are winking at the no ordination of women rule in our own Church.

Hard views, I know, but over time I’ve come to the conclusion that the more we ignore these things, the more we open up the door to our own deminishment.

I agree with you.

At a “progressive” Catholic church which I sometimes attended I saw the same thing, a Protestant minister (a woman) give the homily. It was a decent homily, too, that tied together the three readings, but that’s not the point.

Another time, the homily was done by a layperson (a woman) who identified herself as part of a “progressive” Catholic group.

After that, I just found someplace else to go to Mass.

If the Bishop, did or even could give such a permission then that should have been explained to the faithful before hand so there would be no confusion. I think he should talk to the pastor and find out why? And maybe prevent it from happening again. God Bless, Memaw

As long as no one reports these things to the Bishop, they will just continue. Many Catholics don’t even know its not allowed. Some don’t care! God Bless, Memaw

Thanks for the reply.

I did consider that. But they have a history of rulebreaking and it’s continued. So I thought the best thing to do would be simply refuse to go there, and if anybody asks me why, I’ll tell them.

This is what I’d recommend instead of questioning the priest. I doubt that questioning the priest would have much impact. Moreover as laity, it’s not really our jobs to “police” the clergy.

So vote with your feet, and your wallet. That’s what I ended up doing when I got tired of lame liturgies, poor music, priests composing their own collects to replace the ones in the missal, rearranging the order of the Mass… and I could go on.

I found a very orthodox Benedictine monastery nearby that does a beautiful liturgy that is a mix of modern and traditional: the Mass is Ordinary Form and in French plainchant, but uses Gregorian chant for the Propers and Ordinary, in Latin/Greek. Moreover they are 100% faithful to the magisterium in their homilies, and 100% faithful to the missal (or in their case the Graduale Romanum). When they do make a mistake, you can be sure it’s genuine human error (e.g. the lector accidentally taking the readings for the wrong year; stuff like that happens, I remember once the priest/monk giving the homily had to say “well in the readings we were SUPPOSED to hear today…”). When they do have a guest homilist, it is always another priest, sometimes from another abbey, another order/congregation, a bishop, or a secular priest. Never a layperson, never someone from a separated Church.

Since then I have become an oblate of said monastery, and it’s where I attend Mass almost exclusively.

On the other hand I also sing in a Gregorian schola, and we do bring the Propers and Ordinary to a different parish every month, 9 months of the year, to parishioners can at least get to hear them. So that’s another option to these sorts of abuses: get involved in your parish.

Simply calling the priest on his “errors” is likely to win you any points or get the situation changed. Unfortunately the Church, like any organization filled with humans, can be messy and chaotic at times.

I’m sure there are also other parishes one can migrate to. In the small city (pop. 100k) where our schola sings, some parishes are clearly heterodox, others orthodox. If you’re mobile enough to go to a neighbouring parish, do so, and take your support (aka money) there too.

Note that I still support my territorial parish financially, but to the minimum suggested amount. My larger financial contributions go to the abbey. Before I became oblate, I made all of my contributions to the parish.

Report it to the bishop. Make a copy of your letter and keep hold of his replies to you. Report priests every time they do something you are sure is gravely wrong, and if it continues for long then take it higher- I think these things go to the Congregation of the Faith. It is because not enough people report these things that they continue.

I agree with you. Doesn’t sound like much harm was done or that she said anything all that wrong in her homily. And I agree I’m not sure what complaining would accomplish. I have recently written the diocese where I live 3 times asking if a practice in place at a local parish is allowed in Church teaching, I get automated replies that my email has been received and would be routed to the appropriate person for response. But they don’t answer. They did answer though what the geographical parsihes are for certain addresses.

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