MERGED: Minister of Good Friday Liturgy

Is it licit for a religious sister to lead the Good Friday Liturgy of the Passion?
In one of our local parishes the parish priest has authorised a religous sister to do this because he will be busy celebrating it in his other parish church. Another local priest who is free to do so offered to lead the service for him but he declined.

As far as I can see there’s no way that would be licit. The Missal has specific functions that are for the priest and priest alone in the liturgy. Further, CDW instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum paragraphs 162-167 limit the authority to conduct services in the absence of a priest to Sundays.

Finally, Canon 1247 §2 says,

If participation in the eucharistic celebration becomes impossible because of the absence of a sacred minister or for another grave cause, it is strongly recommended that the faithful take part in a liturgy of the word if such a liturgy is celebrated in a parish church or other sacred place according to the prescripts of the diocesan bishop or that they devote themselves to prayer for a suitable time alone, as a family, or, as the occasion permits, in groups of families.

Another local priest volunteered to lead the service, so there is not an absence of a priest. And it sounds like your pastor is doing it on his own initiative. However, before making some kind of accusation, I would, of course, want to verify that his bishop hadn’t issued some sort of guidance.

The archbishop has said it is OK because no Mass is involved - I’m not sure he knows about the offer made by the other priest though.
It seems to me that since this is one of the main liturgies of the Easter triduum it is surely wrong for anyone, except the Pope maybe, to agree for it to be led by a layperson. The next church in several directions is hardly more than a mile distant and there are regular reliable bus services covering several of them.

The archbishop has said he thinks it is OK because there is no Mass involved and given the go ahead. I don’t know whether he knows about the other priest’s offer.
It seems to me that, since this is one of the main celebrations within the Sacred Triduum, at least in the spirit of the liturgical norms, no one, save perhaps the Pope, should give such a permission especially when you know there are several churches nearby, hardly any of them, in several directions, are scarcely more than a mile distant. All of them are celebrating the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion with a priest present and there are regular bus services to many of them.

If the Ordinary says it’s OK…then, absent a direct citation that could be quoted to the contrary, there’s not much that can be done.

Having said that, you could send an inquiry to the CDW and ask. Or you could address a letter to the liturgical expert who consults with Zenit.

In either case, there’s not much to be done prior to next Friday.

If it was me, though, I think I’d find a different parish for the good Friday liturgy.

I found this on the USCCB Divine Worship page:

May a deacon officiate at the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion?

**The Roman Missal does not envision the possibility that a deacon could officiate at the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion, even though it appears that the celebration appears to be a service of the Word with the distribution of Holy Communion. **Historically, even though the Eucharist is not celebrated on this day, the liturgy of Good Friday bears resemblance to a Mass. At one time it was called the “Mass of the Presanctified” (referring to the pre-consecrated hosts used at Communion, even when only the priest received Communion). **This is also reflected in the prescribed vesture for the priest: stole and chasuble. The liturgy of Good Friday, as an integral part of the Triduum, is linked to the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper and the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. While there may be cases where a parish with multiple churches or chapels (e.g., mission churches or a cluster of parishes under one pastor) might rotate the liturgies among the various locations, it would not be appropriate for a community to celebrate only part of the Triduum. **

I hope this answer helps the OP.

Given the fact that the USCCB denies the right to such service even for a deacon

only the Apostolic See can be the judge, weather the archbishop has the right to allow priest-less service or not.

Additional questions:

  • what is the standing of the local priest who offered the service?

  • is there Mass and service for the other two days of the Holy Triduum, or this would be the only day for sacred service?

Hello! Two brief questions.

The holy Thursday and good friday services each had the psalm replaced with a song; not a sung psalm, just a song, a fitting song but not the psalm. This didn’t seem right to me.
The other thing is a hypothetical, if there is no mass on good Friday, can the liturgy be conducted by someone else such a deacon or layman?

Thanks for your response and Happy Tridiuum!


In regard to the second question my parish Priest is going to another church where he is needed and the deacon will lead our Good Friday Liturgy. It doesn’t say anything in the missal about this therefore I don’t know whether it is illicit or not but as you say there is no consecration so it would seem ok a Priest would be best though.

As for the celebrant for Good FRiday here is the well documented negative answer:

My missalette (quite conservative edition) explicitly approves the substitution of some psalms and hymns with other approved songs.

In our Church almost always the Gradual/Tractus of the traditional mass is chanted in Latin instead of the Responsorial psalms.

this is a link to another thread “Re: Minister of Good Friday Liturgy”

The recently published Roman Missal (with the new translation) includes a specific statement for the United States on this point:

In the United States, if the size or nature of a parish or other community indicates the pastoral need for an additional liturgical service, the Diocesan bishop may permit the service to be repeated later. This liturgy by its very nature may not, however, be celebrated in the absence of a Priest.

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