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Out of the Question

14 February 2014


Your answers

I recently saw a Roman Catholic priest bless the people with the Book of the Gospels when it was handed to him by the deacon after the Gospel. I thought that only a bishop should do this. Is this correct? 

According to a very strict interpretation of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal that is currently in force, this Roman Catholic priest was technically incorrect. This is a minor issue over a little ceremony; but paragraph 175 of the revised instruction does stipulate that only if the eucharistic president is a bishop, after having received the Gospel Book from the deacon, and reverenced it in the customary way, may he use it to bless the congregation by making a sign of the cross.

It is very much to be hoped that at a future revision of its ritual rules the RC Church will further modify the arrangement, so that this gesture of blessing may be given by all priests.

It is noteworthy that, before 2002, this particular blessing at the Ministry of the Word was restricted to the Roman pontiff at papal masses. The more recent provision is a welcome sign that it may be yet further extended. Fortunately, Anglican priests are at perfect liberty to introduce this meaningful blessing.

(Canon) Terry Palmer
Magor, Monmouthshire


Many will have noticed what a high proportion of Christmas cards arrived through the post with unfranked stamps. Is it good stewardship, or theft, to re-use them?

The simple answer is that to re-use stamps that have been unfranked is a criminal offence contrary to section 11 of the Fraud Act 2006.

(The Revd) Tim Barnard
Amersham, Buckinghamshire

Re-using stamps that have been through the mail system, franked or not, is fraud, and is something Royal Mail looks out for. The Royal Mail can and does bring prosecutions. How is deceiving a vendor into providing a service that you are not entitled to, because you have not paid for it, a fair trade?

Eugene Organ
Hedge End, Hampshire

Your questions

How often should housebound communicants be visited by a priest from their parish?

A. H.


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