Is "Interpretive Gospel" allowed?

At our Sunday Mass our parish priest, with the assistance of our pastoral associate, reads an “interpretive Gospel” rather than the actual Gospel reading.
When it is time for the Gospel our pastoral associate takes her position at the ambo and the Priest remains at the altar. He pronounces the Gospel reference and says that “the following contains the full text of the Gospel”. The priest and associate then read a dramatized version of the Gospel that is generally 3 times the length of the Gospel reading and includes dramatic themes eg. “cancer patients smell bad sometimes, poor people smell bad sometimes, mentally disturbed people smell bad sometimes.” Is this allowed? It seems very wrong.

Very, very wrong. The only thing that should be read is the Gospel reading from the approved lectionary. Not to harp on the priest, but he’s broken the entire symbolism that goes along with the Gospel reading. The Liturgy of the Word is the first of 2 tables that we are nourished from. Just like the Eucharist, the priest takes the Word, blesses the word (the cross on the Gospel book/lectionary), and breaks and shares the Word with the people. The only time another person is allowed to read a part of the Gospel at mass is the Passion on Passion Sunday and Good Friday (and in that case it’s the priest’s job to read the part of Christ).

“Pastoral associate” is an administrative post, not a liturgical one, but it seems that many of the people (often women…) with the privilege of serving the Church in this position do not understand this. I dare say many interpret it as a chance to be an unofficial priest.

The Gospel is to be pronounced, like the other readings, from the ambo. Only an ordained minister may proclaim the Gospel (with the exception being the reading of the Passion on Palm Sunday and Good Friday, when laymen may supplement the clergy). The Gospel is to be pronounced as it is found in the Lectionary. It is strictly forbidden to replace Scripture with something else (be it a paraphrase or a writing from the Church Fathers). From the 2004 instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum: “It is also illicit to omit or to substitute the prescribed biblical readings on one’s own initiative, and especially ‘to substitute other, non-biblical texts for the readings and responsorial Psalm, which contain the word of God.’” (RS 62; cf. GIRM 57)

The priest should save the embellishment (so long as it is orthodox) for the homily and tell the lay “pastoral associate” to sit in the pews with the rest of the congregation.

Here’s a suggestion for this overly inventive parish:

[LIST]
*]The priest offers the sacrifice of the Mass
*]The deacon assists him
*]The servers assist the priest and deacon
*]The lectors proclaim God’s word
*]The cantor leads the chant
*]The lay faithful pray
[/LIST]

No extra stuff needed, and no essential stuff removed. Let’s just do it the Catholic way that has worked for 2,000 years.

I’m just saying . . .

This is a serious abuse that needs to be corrected right away. It goes against the GIRM and Redemptionis Sacramentum. Please note what RS says:

[62.] It is also illicit to omit or to substitute the prescribed biblical readings on one’s own initiative, and especially “to substitute other, non-biblical texts for the readings and responsorial Psalm, which contain the word of God”.138

[63.] Within the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, the reading of the Gospel, which is “the high point of the Liturgy of the Word”,139 is reserved by the Church’s tradition to an ordained minister.140 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.141

You need to address the situation wtih the priest in question. Please point out to him the relevent authoritative documentation. Unfortunately, many parishes tend to use Lent and Holy Week as a time for a free form exercise in creativity, but, this is wrong. If the priest does not listen, then, a letter to the bishop should be in order. This is a serious abuse.

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