In a stunning intervention that will rattle some cages in Rome, the powerful Dominican Order in the Netherlands has issued a booklet containing the radical recommendation that lay mi nisters chosen by their congregations should be allowed to celebrate the Eucharist if no ordained priests are available.
Further the booklet states the Church should drop its priest-centred model of the Mass in favour of one built around a community sharing bread and wine in prayer. Using the early Church as a model, the booklet says a congregation could choose its own lay minister to lead services. The lay minister and the congregation would speak the words of consecration together: “The Church is organized around priests and actually finds the priesthood more important than local faith communities. This is deadly for local congregations … Speaking [the words of consecration] is not the exclusive power of the priest. It is the conscious expression of faith by the whole community.”
Since 2000 about 200 parishes in the Netherlands have closed because of the lack of priests.
Will Rome seriously consider these recommendations. Of course not. That’s not the point. The point is that a serious church group, percolating from the bottom up, is studying another way of being priest. Others will follow and ultimately Rome will have to acknowledge the debate.
Meanwhile the rigid fundamentalists in the Church must satisfactorily answer this question:
Is the insistence on a celibate male priesthood more important than the reception of the Eucharist?
What do you think?