Why can’t deacons confer Anointing of the Sick?

That priests and only priests can confer this sacrament is clearly taught in Sacred Scripture: Is any man sick among you? Let him bring in the priests of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. (James 5:14)

This is not the type of teaching which can change. The minister of the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick has been and will always be priests and only priests (including, of course, bishops). Still, we ask, Why is it so?

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St. Lawrence – “Father, where are you going without your Deacon?”

St. Lawrence [circa AD 258]. Or Laurence as it is sometimes spelled was a deacon and early martyr for Catholicism in Rome. Legend has he was martyred on a gridiron and placed on it when it was at white heat…but he was so unafraid that he called out “Let my body be turned. One side is broiled enough!” but of course it is a myth. He was a deacon, one of only seven who served the Church at that time.  But some of his great works among the poor have been preserved by St. Ambrose.  Those were terrible times but the living saints who were martyred gloried in giving their all for God and His Church.

As Pope St. Sixtus was being led to his execution, Lawrence ran after him, brushed the soldiers aside and said: “Father, where are you going without your Deacon?” The Pope answered: “I do not leave you, my son. You shall follow me in three days.” Indeed Laurence did. Ambrose writes that Laurence was filled with joy that he would be martyred and join Christ. He spent the three days doing the corporeal and spiritual works of mercy and when the time come he was beheaded, offering his last words for the conversion of Rome.

Thanks to Tom Roeser for this item