As Chase in the comments and CNS reported this morning:
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.
The synod itself:
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.
As most Catholics know, women already serve as lectors at Catholic liturgy all over the world. The official role is one of the traditional minor orders.
CNS’s John Thavis:
What Pope Benedict XVI will do with that proposal is unclear, according to Vatican people I spoke with shortly after the synod vote.
I’m not sure if this has much resonance beyond the symbolism. For Catholics in the pews, the practical reality is that the role is filled from the grassroots. The use of women lectors at papal Masses shows that the grass has indeed grown all the way up.
On second thought, maybe there’s something behind the mere symbolism of women entering official roles where only male seminarians tread before. Anybody see it?
I’m going to enjoy the symbolism for now!
The people who voted “no” must have thought it mattered, even if it is just symbolic! Here’s why I think it matters — according to the CRS story, “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.” That sounds to me like, right now, women are (officially) only allowed to read when there’s a shortage of qualified men. Like factory workers during the war. In reality, the majority of volunteer lectors in my parish are women, and it would be nice to know we’re not just there as a temporary substitute for real lectors.
This whole lector/acolyte thing in place of the minor orders was one of the more unfortunate decisions made by Pope Paul VI. Time to reinstate the minor orders as a seminarian track and divorce the lector/acolyte ministries as they are used in the parish.
It is time to trot out that old Catholic face-saver: “As the Church has always taught ……”
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