Q: I thoroughly enjoy all you blogs. Thank you for all you do for the Church.
In the book, Pastoral Care of the Sick, page 24 line 16, it states “The priest is the only proper minister of the anointing of the sick.”
“This office is ordinarily exercised by bishops, pastors and their assistants, chaplains of health-care facilities, and superiors of clerical religious institutes.”
To my knowledge we have at least two permanent deacons who are hospital chaplains. Does this give them the authority to perform the anointing of the sick?
A: No, a deacon who is a chaplain may not anoint the sick. No deacon may anoint the sick – only priests may do so. This will become clearer when we get the revised English-language translation of the passage you cite. In the Latin original, all those groups mentioned in that sentence are groups of priests.
I am personally grateful for the ministry of deacons in hospitals. There is 5th-century evidence of people who are not priests anointing the sick, but the practice has changed.