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Bishops approve preaching norms for lay Catholics

The bishops agreed to permit qualified lay Catholics to preach in churches, oratories and “other sacred places.” The decision to grant such permissions was left to the local bishops and would be based on the absence or shortage of clergy with particular language skills and other expertise.

The bishops also approved norms governing Catholics -- lay, religious and ordained -- who regularly expound Catholic teaching on radio or television.

The new norms on preaching state, “In providing for preaching by the faithful, the diocesan bishop may never dispense from the norm which reserves the homily to the sacred ministers. Preaching by the faithful may not take place within the celebration of the Eucharist at the moment reserved for the homily.”

Otherwise, the norms state, a bishop can admit lay Catholics “to preach, to offer spiritual conferences or give instructions in churches, oratories, or other sacred places within his diocese, when he judges it to be to the spiritual advantage of the faithful.”

-- Patricia Lefevere

National Catholic Reporter, November 23, 2001