The Appointment of Lay Pastors

Thomas Cudahy is the Roman Catholic Bishop of Upper Michigan. His diocese has experienced a dramatic reduction in clergy over the last ten years. Until now, he has been able to ensure that there is at least one priest or deacon for every two parishes in the Diocese, but the numbers of available clergy has dwindled to a point where he no longer is able to do so. Rather than sacrifice the pastoral care of his parishioners, he decides to appoint Catholic lay ministers as pastoral administrators of the priestless parishes, and to give some of the more experienced priests three parishes to oversee.

Bishop Cudahy also grants the pastoral administrators various faculties usually reserved to clergy. They will preside at communion services on weekdays and on those Sundays when the priest will not be able to visit the parish. They will be the official witnesses at weddings, and will administer Baptism. They will deliver homilies at these liturgical celebrations, and will be the chief teachers of faith and morality in their parishes. In dire emergencies, the Bishop has even authorized them to anoint the sick. In lieu of hearing confessions, he has directed them to share the struggles of individuals, offer spiritual counsel, and say with them an Act of Contrition.

Does Bishop Cudahy have the authority to make these appointments, and to delegate these faculties to lay ministers?

Analyze this case: