An opening on women lectors?

VATICAN CITY — Probably the most newsy — and somewhat unexpected — item in the final propositions of the Synod of Bishops on the Bible was a proposal to allow women to be officially installed in the ministry of lector.

The issue was raised in Proposition 17 on “The ministry of the word and women,” and on Saturday morning it passed with 191 votes in favor, 45 opposed and three abstentions, according to our sources.

“It is hoped that the ministry of lector be opened also to women, so that their role as proclaimers of the word may be recognized in the Christian community,” the proposition states in its final sentence.

What Pope Benedict XVI will do with that proposal is unclear, according to Vatican people I spoke with shortly after the synod vote.

The issue, of course, is not whether women can act as lectors, or Scripture readers, in Catholic liturgies. They already do so all over the world, including at papal Masses.

The question is whether women can be officially installed in such a ministry. Until now, the Vatican has said no: canon law states that only qualified lay men can be “installed on a stable basis in the ministries of lector and acolyte.” At the same time, canon law does allow for “temporary deputation” as lector to both men and women, which is why women routinely appear as lectors.

The reasoning behind church law’s exclusion of women from these official ministries has long been questioned. For centuries, the office of lector was one of the “minor orders,” generally reserved to seminarians approaching ordination. While seminarians still are installed formally as “acolyte” and then as “lector”  before being ordained deacons, since the 1970s service at the altar and proclaiming the readings at Mass have been seen primarily as ministries stemming from baptism and not specifically as steps toward ordination.

“It’s important to emphasize that any proposition for women lectors would simply arise from their baptism and not from any presumptive opening for orders,” said one Vatican source.

The synod took up the question because some have suggested that in promoting greater scriptural preparation and presentation, the church designate “ministers of the word.” Lectors were seen as natural candidates.

It’s interesting that this proposal, while passing overwhemlingly, drew the greatest number of “no” votes than any of the other 54 propositions, most of which passed with fewer than five opposing votes.

8 Responses

  1. What a farce! As if formal enrolling as lectors will have anything to do with being recognized by the Christian community.

    These men ought to be ashamed of themselves. If it wasn’t for the women doing MOST of ALL of the work in a parish, there would be no parish.

  2. Farce indeed! ashamed of themselves – definitely. because they continue to chip away at the Tradition that serves as the foundation of the Church. It’s like we’ve become the Anglican church in slow motion. How long until they’re voting to open up the episocopacy?

  3. Grr. Sometimes, I wonder about people in committees and big meetings. I don’t understand the logic of allowing women lectors. As it is still percieved by some groups as a minor order, it seems illogical to allow women lectors and not women anything else.

    It’s one or the other, all or nothing.

    It’s even better that the Church isn’t a democracy and the Pope has some sense.

  4. “An opening on women lectors?” as the title of the piece seems to me at least to be rather biased. Opening is a rather charged term, almost always positive, at least in politically correct jargon: open doors, open minds, sexually open, etc.

    The Church needs to take hard look at the definitions of the priesthood of the laity (both as a group and individuals) as well as the definitions of ministry (ordained and lay). As teachings stand, these are fairly murky, at least in the last couple generations. Maybe that’s what the synod should have been about; I didn’t need to be told I should own a Bible.

  5. All you have to do is look at a list of the bishops who were officiating this synod. Women cannot receive Holy Orders, minor or not, period. Feminists will not be appreciative, they will ask the inevitable question. ‘If women can receive minor Holy Orders why not the Priesthood?’ I am not sure that we do not already have ‘non-men’ as shepherds who are promoting error and threaten the sanctity of the Church of Christ. God will preserve His Church and these spineless minions of the radical left apparently are not familiar nor the sligthest bit concerned with the possibility of God’s chastisement.

    Pray and fast that the Holy Father accelerate the use of the TLM and request that the PCED clarify and enforce the Motu Propio. If the progressives prevail there will indeed be only a remnant left in a relatively short time and it will not be from our natural enemies but by treachery from within.

    Sancta Maria, spes, nostra, sedes sapientiae, ora pro nobis!

  6. “Jimmy Mac, on October 25th, 2008 at 7:02 pm Said:
    What a farce! As if formal enrolling as lectors will have anything to do with being recognized by the Christian community.

    These men ought to be ashamed of themselves. If it wasn’t for the women doing MOST of ALL of the work in a parish, there would be no parish.”

    AMEN TO JIMMY MAC
    ——————————————————
    “Lance Patrick, on October 27th, 2008 at 7:49 pm Said:
    All …. Feminists will not be appreciative, they will ask the inevitable question. ‘If women can receive minor Holy Orders why not the Priesthood?’ I am not sure that we do not already have ‘non-men’ as shepherds who are promoting error and threaten the sanctity of the Church of Christ…. ”

    1) WHY NOT THE PRIESTHOOD? BECAUSE WE’VE HAD 2,000 YEARS OF MALE PATRIARCHY RUNNING THE CHURCH.

    2) WHO OR WHAT ARE THE “NON-MEN?” DOES THIS MEAN THAT HOMOSEXUAL MEN ARE THREATENING THE SANCTITY OF THE CHURCH, OR THAT WOMEN ARE?

  7. “The ministry of the word and women…” Think about it…better yet, pray about it.

    Theotokos: Incarnation of the Word and the deification of man.
    Christ: The Word became flesh…God became man.
    See the difference?

    Women have a very different and special relationship to the Word. This is the “reasoning” behind church law’s exclusion of women from these official ministries.

  8. The Vatican and Roman pontiff shouldn’t consider d official declaration of women as Lectors in the Roman church. From the origin of the church this office is one of the most sacred office and we should understand that during the time of christ, he didn’t entrusted any of this work to the women. Please the church and the society is developing on daily basis and women are trying to dominate alot of things inside the church. Let them remain unofficial lectors who serves where the need arises.

Comments are closed.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 739 other followers

%d bloggers like this: