Imagine this scenario. A priest, during Mass steps back to permit a lay-person who has been sitting beside him all during Mass, to address the congregation.
The lay-person proceeds enthusiastically to invite the congregation to attend a Liturgy of the Word with Communion service the following Sunday, during the regular Mass time. This lay-person, employed by the government as a "chaplain" proceeds to tell a series of partial truths about Liturgies of the Word. We are told that they have been happening for a long time (which is true), and that they have been used by missionaries where priests are unavailable (which is also true). We are told that they have been blessed by the Second Vatican Council and the Pope. Almost true.
Liturgies of the Word happen all the time. They are a legitimate way for lay-people to pray without the presence of a priest. The hitch is "without the presence of a priest". They do not fulfill the obligation Catholics have to attend Mass on Sunday.
If a priest is truly unavailable for Mass, people should be directed to other parishes. Our chapel has another parish only a few minutes away.
We were not so directed.
There was someone else attending Mass with us that day. She is not Catholic. She, too, is a government employee and the head chaplain for our chapel.
She was there, it seemed, to make sure the announcement was made regarding the Liturgy of the Word with Communion service. She knew the priest did not support it. She made the decision that funds would not be made available for another priest to fill-in. There are priests who would have made the trip.
A few weeks later, this governmental chaplain is again in the back of the Church. We have a guest priest, along with our regular priest. The guest has been a government chaplain for a long time. Today he is giving the homily.
He admired all the children in the congregation. We do have a surprising number compared to other parishes. I thought when he started talking about the shortage of priests, we might get some encouragement to rear our children to be priests and religious. No. Instead, we get crowing about how impressive this government chaplaincy is to allow lay-people to do all this neat stuff. He said that when he spoke to priests in other countries and places about what lay-people do in our chaplaincy, it was like trying to explain a frozen river to someone at the Equator (or something like that). They looked at him like he was odd.
I wonder if it occurred to him that they looked at him that way because they thought he was very misguided.
We were told on no uncertain terms that the lay-"chaplains" would be preaching on Sundays, even during Mass.
Catholic teaching does not support this innovation. I am very familiar with the General Instruction on the Roman Missal. And Redemptionis Sacramentum. They actually speak expressly against lay-people...any lay-people...from giving a 'homily' during the time reserved for a homily.
I find it very scary that the government feels it can tell the Church what to do, even in a chapel. This is exactly the type of situation which the separation of Church and state was supposed to address. Oh, wait. We're not Americans.