Date of Award


Document Type

Graduate Paper

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Theology


School of Theology • Seminary

First Advisor

Anthony Ruff, OSB


The Sunday Celebration in the Absence of a Priest (SCAP) has become a common part of the American Catholic experience as dioceses continue to struggle with ways to deal with the shortage of available ordained priests to celebrate Eucharist. In this paper, I look at early church history (in the pre-Nicaean church as well as the Middle Ages) to find historical and theological justification of the rite. I examine relevant background information data from American history on the availability of Eucharist and Eucharistic piety, and then outline the 20th-century movement which restored frequent reception of Communion to the laity, to explain how the current situation developed in the USA. I trace the development of the SCAP rite, from 1973’s Holy Communion Outside of Mass to the 2007 revision of the SCAP rite. I then consider a number of the most pressing criticisms of the SCAP from a variety of vantage points, including sacramental, ecclesiological, theological, and sociological.



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