Great article at the Homiletic and Pastoral Review website about it.
This is about the over use and abuse of the sacrament, but it also explains perfectly why Deacons ought not to be able to do this sacrament as I have heard many suggest, both in class and on teh interwebz, as the Gormogons might say.
There has been some discussion in some circles that due to many deacons doing hospital ministry and the time crunch on priests that deacons ought to be able to anoint when visiting the sick. Sounds reasonable, except that it isn’t.
This article primarily covers the abuse of the sacrament that has been going on and why it’s an abuse. The, dare I say it, liberal application of the sacrament has reduced it to the status of superstition in many places and given much of the laity a faulty understanding of what it does.
The anointing doesn’t keep you from getting sick and isn’t intended to heal your physical body. It’s a spiritual effect in that it forgives sins and prepares one for meeting your maker. All related to the sacerdotal nature of the priesthood, not the service of the diaconate.
Now because of the wrong application of what came out of the Council we are presented with a situation where we have to re-educate people on what the Church really means and intends. And we need to do it in a way that will hopefully minimize the fallout. And there WILL be fallout.
“What do you mean I can’t be anointed because I have a hangnail that hurts a lot?!!?!?!?!”
Count on it. Of course that presumes that there will be much of movement to correct this in the first place.