Bishop Noble’s speech at Synod means that all three Bishops from the Conference of England and Wales have been called on to speak during the first week. The official summary of his intervenetion can be found below.
Section 71 of the Instrumentum Laboris speaks of the importance for the survival of Faith of Sunday Mass. For this reason it must “be guaranteed to the greatest possible number of the faithful”.
But in many Dioceses, due to a shortage of priests adequate provision is difficult and is likely to become more so.
Sections 55 and 56 of the Instrumentum draw attention to some of the consequences of this situation: substitute Liturgies of the Word can reduce Christian worship to a service of the assembly. There can be confusion concerning the difference between ordained and non-ordained ministry. To these should we not also add the danger of priests having to assume an almost exclusively cultic role and so endangering the prophetic and pastoral dimensions of ordained ministry? And isn’t it an important part of our Tradition that there is a close link between presiding at the Eucharist and presiding in love over a community?
Prayer for vocations and a sharing of priests among the churches (55) are ways forward but I suggest the need for a more urgent approach. If the Eucharist is the source and summit of our life and mission, should not adequate provision for its celebration be our priority? And for how long should communities be “communities awaiting a priest”?
For these reasons, I propose that the Holy See consults the Bishops over the extent of the problem and seeks our views concerning how best to deal with the problem in those countries where the need is acute.