Bishop Salvatore Matano, the new bishop of Rochester, N.Y., is in the process of ending a 40-year custom of permitting lay ministers to preach at Mass. Most are women commissioned to preach by the former bishop, Matthew Clark. All have advanced degrees in theology and all have served for many years in various diocesan leadership positions. Many are or were parish administrators in a diocese where one-third of all parishes are without a resident priest. (And things are going to get worse. According to the diocesan website, the number of active diocesan priests is expected to decline from 140 to 62 by 2025 – a decline of almost 60 percent.)
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So, you may ask, what does canon law actually say? In the wake of the Second Vatican Council's renewed focus on the priesthood of all believers, the 1983 Code of Canon Law permitted lay preaching under certain circumstances.
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