Vatican reminds priests not to ‘commercialize’ Masses, sacraments

The Vatican has reminded Catholic priests “not to commercialize” Masses or “give the impression that the celebration of the Sacraments … are subject to tariffs.”

In new guidelines released on July 20, the Holy See urged priests not to fix prices for celebrating weddings and funerals.

“An offering, by its very nature, must be a free act on the part of the one offering… not a ‘price to pay’ or a ‘fee to exact,’ as if dealing with a sort of ‘tax,’” said the Vatican.

The guidelines added that although in some countries Mass offerings are the only source of income for priests, they should celebrate Mass “even if they have not received an offering.”

The 22-page document from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy aims to guide parishes “in the service of the evangelizing mission of the Church.”

The congregation clarified that the new document does not introduce new legislation on pastoral care.

It describes the parish as “a house among houses” and stressed the importance of a missionary renewal of parish structures.

The document said every baptized faithful must be an active participant in evangelization and the priest must be at the service of the parish and his role “involves the full care of souls.”

The document also specified the role of deacons, consecrated people, and the laity.

The Vatican reminder came in the midst of the financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic that has affected the Catholic Church.

In May, the Vatican’s finance minister warned that the closure of museums and the cancellation of fundraising events would see up to a 45-percent drop in the city state’s income.

The guidelines follow Pope Francis’s admission in 2013 that “the call to review and renew our parishes has not yet sufficed to bring them nearer to people.”

The Vatican said best practice would have one priest care for one parish, but “because a shortage of priests or other circumstances, the care of a number of neighboring parishes can be entrusted to a single parish priest.”

The new Vatican instructions follows an earlier one released in 1997 and the Instruction of 2002, published by the Congregation for the Clergy on “The Priest, Pastor, and Guide of the Parish Community.”

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