Vatican Note on Ministry of Anointing of the Sick

From Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 24, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is the full text of a note from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the ministry of the sacrament of the anointing of the sick.



Dated Feb. 11 of this year, the text was published Friday in L\'Osservatore Romano.

The note, addressed to dicasteries of the Roman Curia, bishops\' conferences and Eastern synods, is accompanied by a letter which is also published below. Both texts are signed by the then prefect of the Vatican congregation, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

* * *

In canon 1003, paragraph 1 (Cf. also can. 739 paragraph 1 of the Code of Cannons of the Oriental Churches), the Code of Canon Law includes exactly the doctrine expressed by the Tridentine Council (Session XIV, can. 4: DS 1719; Cf. also the Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1516), according to which only priests (Bishops and presbyters) are ministers of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.

This doctrine is \"definitive tenenda.\" Neither deacons nor lay persons therefore may exercise such ministry and any action in this connection is a simulation of the sacrament.

Rome, from the headquarters of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, February 11, 2005, in the Memoria of the Virgin of Lourdes.

+ Joseph Card. Ratzinger
Prefect

+ Angelo Amato, S.D.B.
Titular Archbishop of Sila
Secretary

* * *

To the Most Eminent and Excellent
Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences

In these last years the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has received several questions about the ministry of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.

In this connection, this Dicastery considers it opportune to send to all pastors of the Catholic Church the attached Note on the Ministry of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick (Cf. Annex 1).

Also transmitted because of its usefulness is a brief note on the history of the doctrine in this regard, prepared by an expert on the subject (Cf. Annex 2).

In communicating the foregoing, I take advantage of the occasion to offer you my best regards and to confirm my devotedness,

+ Joseph Card. Ratzinger
Prefect

[Translation by ZENIT]