Why do we do that? Catholic Life Explained

January 19, 2022

Who Can Offer Anointing of the Sick?

Question: Can anyone offer the Anointing of the Sick to a sick or dying person, or is that only something a priest can do?

Answer: The Letter of James speaks to us of the ancient tradition of a special anointing and blessing of those who are sick: “Is there anyone sick among you? Let him send for the presbyters of the Church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord … If he has committed any sins, they will be forgiven him” (5:14, 15b). This passage forms the foundation for the theology of the sacrament that we call “Anointing of the Sick.” In keeping with what we read in the Letter of James and the ancient tradition of the Church, the anointing of a person of who sick or dying many only be performed by a priest or bishop.

Although deacons and other members of the Church are not able to celebrate the sacrament with a person who is sick, we can read Sacred Scripture and pray with and for those who are ill. Resources like the Book of Blessings also contain special blessings that can be celebrated by deacons or lay ministers. In the end, we want to be sure that we show a special care and concern for the sick, helping them to always experience God’s loving comfort through made tangible through our acts of charity and service.