Liturgy & Liturgical Law Forum: Proper Minister for Anointing of the Sick

Proper Minister for Anointing of the Sick QUESTION from Father Taurasi October 12, 2001
Dear Mr. Slavek,
I hope this will be helpful to you and your readers. In Sacramental Theology the term proper minister is equal to only valid minister. For example, when it is states that: The proper minister for the sacrament of Confirmation is a bishop, or a priest who has delegation, it is understood that only a bishop or priest with delegation can validly celebrate this sacrament. When the proper minister is designated, it excludes all others as valid ministers of the sacrament.
Concerning the Sacrament of the Sick, the great sacramental theologian, Father Nicholas Halligan, O.P. in his famous book,The Sacraments and their Celebration on page 123 states: The proper and only valid minister of the anointing of the sick is a priest. This is a right and an obligation with regard to all priests toward the faithful committed to their pastoral care... The footnote is: Apost. Const. Sacram unctionem infirmorum eorumque pastoralis curae. It is also to be noted, that Church grants to all priests the faculty to bless the Oil of the Sick, in case of necessity. In the absence of olive oil, vegetable oil is sufficient for lawfulness and validity.
You may also want to see the recent Vatican document, Ecclesiae de Mysterio (1997)which deals with non-ordained faithful in sacred ministry, in which it explicitly states that those who are not priests may not validly administer the sacrament of the sick.
Lastly, Mr. Slavek, it should be noted, that the Code of Canon Law provides sanctions for those lacking priestly Orders, who attempt to confer sacraments for which priestly Orders are required.
Father Taurasi
ANSWER by Mr. Jacob Slavek on October 16, 2001
Dear Father Taurasi,
Thank you for the useful clarification.
Mr. Slavek
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