The United States bishops said they are scheduled to vote on publishing a new prayer book to guide laypeople ministering to the sick.
Details of the New Prayer Book
U.S. bishops' Secretariat of Divine Worship Executive Director Fr. Andrew Menke told Catholic News Agency (CNA) expressed his optimism that the upcoming book of prayers would greatly aid laypeople who minister to the sick in case of a priest's unavailability.
According to a CNA report, the Catholic Church only allows ordained priests to anoint the sick, which is the sacrament that is given to a sick person who may or may not be on the verge of dying. The anointing of the sick is traditionally seen as a source of physical and spiritual strength for sick people, particularly those nearing death.
However, the article mentioned that some liturgical books provide guidance for laypeople when ministering to the sick in the absence of a priest.
Father Menke explained that the bishops would vote on publishing a new book containing prayers from traditional sources in ministering to sick people.
"There's all these things that are buried in books used by priests for the most part, but which are designed for laypeople. So we've pulled all those things out, those extracts, and put them into one book, and we're calling it Lay Ministry to the Sick," Menke told CNA.
'A More Official, Robust' Prayer Book
Father Menke said parishes that minister to the sick have pamphlets with prayers for sick people. He said the new book of prayers they intend to produce is a "more official and robust" one.
"A pastor can put this book into the hands of the folks who help him in visiting the nursing homes, hospitals, and places where there isn't a priest-chaplain every day, but there might be a layperson there," CNA quoted him saying.
The chairperson of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Divine Worship, Archbp. Leonard Blair is set to present on "Lay Ministry to the Sick" at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) fall meeting. The said book will be available in Spanish and English editions, the report said.
Father Menke states that at least two-thirds of USCCB members should approve the book first. If it gets the required votes, the book will be forwarded to the Vatican for approval.
Only upon the Vatican's green lighting can the book be published. Menke explained that the whole process would take a few years to materialize.
Menke added that the bishops would also vote on the changes made to the Spanish and English translations of "Anointing of the Sick and Their Pastoral Care," which had been translated from the original Latin.
Lastly, the bishops will vote on whether to take up the causes for the beatification and canonization of three American women: Michelle Duppong, Cora Evans, and Mother Margaret Mary Healy Murphy.