Soline Humbert: When is a chaplain not really a chaplain?

In his widely reported recent Chrism Mass homily, the Archbishop of Dublin,Dermot Farrell, put the word chaplain in inverted commas, as in:

“The ‘chaplain’ who is a mother can minister in a way that complements the ministry of the priest.”

I wondered: Why the inverted commas?

Does the Archbishop not believe that the mother he mentions is really a chaplain?

Of course in doing so he is  merely expressing the official church position: 

1) Canon law states: “A chaplain is a priest to whom is entrusted in a stable manner the pastoral care, at least in part, of some community or special group of Christ’s faithful, to be exercised in accordance with universal and particular law”. (Canon 564)

2) Furthermore, the 1997 Instruction from the Vatican warns: “It is unlawful for the non-ordained faithful to assume titles such as ‘pastor’, ‘chaplain’, ‘coordinator’, ‘moderator’ or other such similar titles which can confuse their role and that of the Pastor, who is always a Bishop or Priest. (58)

If that is the case, we still have a very long way to overcome clericalism. Food for thought on our Synodal Pathway? 

Link to the complete homily.

Soline Humbert 

Easter Tuesday 2024

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