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Catholic Dictionary




The person who, in case of necessity, is permitted or specially delegated to administer one of the sacraments. Baptism, confirmation, and the Eucharist may have extraordinary ministers. Thus baptism is to be ordinarily administered by a priest or deacon, but in emergency any person who has reached the age of reason may validly confer the sacrament. The ordinary minister of confirmation is a bishop, but for special pastoral reasons simple priests may confirm. When they do, their power derives from the papal authorization, which the Holy See actuates in them in virtue of their priestly ordination; it is not a mere extrasacramental delegation. And the ordinary minister of Communion is a priest or deacon, but in cases of real necessity, which have been broadly interpreted since the Second Vatican Council, lay persons and religious may be authorized by a bishop to distribute the Holy Eucharist.