As parishes expand [this bit doesn`t apply here!] and the number of priests decline, there is a great temptation to downplay the priest`s sacramental role and to accept his managerial functions [except that in some places some laity want to take on the managerial and sacramental roles, so what is a priest meant to be then?]. Instead of defining himself as the primary teacher of the faith and mediator of Christ in the celebration of the sacraments, he defines himself as the "enabler in lay ministry" [ This was the vision of the priesthood I remember being given at Ushaw by a now senior cleric back in the 1980`s!]. Instead of preparing parishioners for the sacraments (conducting baptism classes, marriage preparation etc) and visiting sick, he organises teams of "lay ministers" for the jobs.
Hence, the definition of a "good priest" is a man who knows how to delegate his sacramental duties to the laity and is a great administrator and fundraiser. Conversely, the definition of a "good Catholic" narrows to include only those who "do ministry" rather than those who bring Christ to their homes and workplaces as virtuous parents and employees. But anyone who has studied the documents of the Second Vatican Council realizes that this is exactly the opposite of the Church`s intention. It is critical to the mission of the Church not to disassociate priestly ministry from a priest`s personal administering of the sacraments.
Three cheers. This explains why I always feel to say the least uneasy when we hear that "lay ministry" is to be promoted. Minor orders would be fine but that isn`t what is usually meant. I am quite happy to recruit lay people to help with sacramental preparation and believe it is particularly useful when dealing with marriage but I believe that the priest must be involved too and guide the whole process. There is always a somewhat neglected Vatican document On Certain Questions Regarding The Collaboration Of The Non-Ordained Faithful In The Sacred Ministry Of The Priest of 1997.