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Frequently Asked Questions
regarding the

Q. 1. How many oils does the Catholic Church use?

A. 1. The Catholic Church uses 3 different oils.

Q. 2. What are they called?

A. 2. They are called:

a. the Oil of Catechumens,
b. the Oil of the Sick, and
c. the Sacred Chrism.

Q. 3. What about the oil of gladness?

A. 3. The Catholic Church has no such oil. In the Catholic Information Service News for Africa, we read on October 18, 2008:

SOUTH AFRICA: Vatican Clamps Down on ‘Oil of Gladness’ Heresy
Written By:CISA , Posted: Sat, Oct 18, 2008

VATICAN, October 17, 2008 (CISA) -The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has written to the head of the bishops’ conference in South Africa following reports of the abuse of the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick in parts of the country.

In a letter to Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, Congregation secretary Archbishop Albert Ranjith alerts the bishops of South Africa to the phenomenon called Anointing with the Oil of Gladness.

“It is reported that the faithful are frequently being anointed during what are called ‘Healing Services’ by deacons or even lay ministers who use a so-called ‘Oil of Gladness’ that is claimed to be “Sacramental,” the letter says.

Archbishop Ranjith reminds the church in South Africa that Canon Law expressly forbids anyone other than a priest from administering the Anointing of the Sick. He also restates the Church’s position regarding anointing.

“This Congregation also observes that there are only three blessed oils used in the Roman Ritual, namely the oil of catechumens, the oil of the sick, and the Sacred Chrism. The use of any other oil or any other ‘anointing’ than those found in the approved liturgical books must be considered proscribed and subject to ecclesiastical penalties.

“The Congregation kindly asks that the bishops of South Africa be made aware of the above-mentioned confusion so that proper catechesis and sacramental discipline can be restored where it may be lacking. The Congregation would be grateful for a brief comment from Your Eminence on the current situation in South Africa in this regard.”

Since the letter refers to Canon Law which is in force universally, the prohibition should not be considered as applying only to South Africa.

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