Archive for category Women

Women’s Work: The pope makes it harder to keep women out of liturgy / Commonweal

“It (motu proprio, Spiritus Domini) removes a major excuse that men have used to keep women at a distance from the altar of the Lord. But it doesn’t require them to give us anything we don’t already have. Changing canon law in this way doesn’t force ordained men to get used to working with women. At best, it nudges them toward recognizing that they should want to.”

Commonweal (Also Voice of the Faithful webpage “Women’s Roles” — http://votf.org/node/1589)

“It must be difficult for a mainstream journalist covering the Vatican beat on days like January 11, when Pope Francis’s motu proprioSpiritus Domini, was announced. How to convey the significance of a tweak to canon law that clarifies women’s eligibility to be lectors and acolytes at Mass? Aren’t they…already doing those things?

“Pity the reporter who must quickly explain the existence of ‘stable ministries’ in the Church, and the now-obscure practice of formally instituting lay men into those roles. Even the most committed American Catholics were perplexed when the news broke because, as Anthony Ruff, OSB, wrote at the Pray Tell blog, ‘Up until now, females couldn’t be installed in these ministries, but they could do these ministries anyway.’ It’s no wonder so many outlets framed the news in terms of what hadn’t happened: ‘Pope says women can read at Mass, but still can’t be priests’ ran a typical headline.

“‘The Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women,’ Pope John Paul II declared in 1994 in an attempt to shut down that debate. Francis quoted that pronouncement in a letter accompanying Spiritus Domini, but he also wrote that he hoped the change he was making to canon law would help men preparing for ordination ‘better understand they are participants in a ministry shared with other baptized men and women.’ Francis’s modification to one canon—changing ‘lay men’ to ‘lay persons’—eliminates a long-standing excuse for discrimination against women, although you won’t find him or any other Vatican official putting it in those terms.”

By Mollie Wilson O’Reilly, Commonweal — Read more …

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Francis changes Catholic Church law: women explicitly allowed as lectors, altar servers / National Catholic Reporter

“Francis’ new letter, titled Spiritus Domini and issued motu proprio (on his own initiative), changes the Code of Canon Law to explicitly allow women to be installed in the Catholic Church as lectors and acolytes.”

National Catholic Reporter

“Pope Francis has changed Catholic Church law to make explicit that laywomen can act as readers and altar servers in liturgical celebrations, effectively removing a previous option for individual bishops to restrict those ministries only to men.

“In an unexpected apostolic letter published Jan. 11, the pontiff says he is making the change to recognize a ‘doctrinal development’ that has occurred in recent years.

“That change, the pope says, ‘shines a light on how some ministries instituted by the church have as their foundation that common condition of baptism and the royal priesthood received in the Sacrament of Baptism.’

“Francis’ new letter, titled Spiritus Domini and issued motu proprio (on his own initiative), changes the Code of Canon Law to explicitly allow women to be installed in the Catholic Church as lectors and acolytes.

“Lectors are ministers who proclaim readings at Mass and other liturgical celebrations. Acolytes are ministers who typically assist priests in preparing the altar during the Mass or in distributing Communion. Acolytes are often known as altar servers or Eucharistic ministers in common parlance.

“Laypeople who serve in those ministries are not ordained but can be formally instituted into the roles during a church ceremony.

“Although women in many U.S. Catholic dioceses already serve as readers and altar servers, the church’s canon law had technically only allowed for their service on a temporary basis and according to the whim of the local bishop.”

By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Read more … 

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Vatican newspaper essays say women should preach at Mass / Religion News Service

A series of essays in the semiofficial Vatican newspaper is urging the Catholic Church to allow women to preach from the pulpit at Mass, a role that has been reserved almost exclusively to the all-male priesthood for nearly 800 years.

“‘This topic is a delicate one, but I believe it is urgent that we address it,’ Enzo Bianchi, leader of an ecumenical religious community in northern Italy and a popular Catholic commentator, wrote in his article in L’Osservatore Romano.

“‘Certainly for faithful lay people in general, but above all for women, this would constitute a fundamental change in their participation in church life,’ said Bianchi, who called such a move a ‘decisive path’ for responding to widespread calls — including by Pope Francis — to find ways to give women a greater role in the church.”

By David Gibson, Religion News Service — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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No Communion for the divorced and remarried, as women take back-row seats at Family Synod

Drafting committee cardinal: Synod will not provide Communion path for remarried

One of the prelates responsible for drafting the final document from the ongoing Synod of Bishops has said he does not anticipate that it will propose changes in the Catholic church’s practices towards the divorced and remarried. Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias — one of ten prelates who co-drafted the document after three-weeks of intense deliberations among some 270 bishops at the Oct. 4-25 Synod — said in particular that one specific proposal that might have allowed the remarried to take Communion would likely not be mentioned.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Women fear their voices will be sidelined in synod’s final report

The rows of seats in the synod hall, where Catholic bishops are meeting to discuss family issues, are filled with bishops and cardinals — all male. To find any women, look to the back of the room. The women’s distance from the heart of the synod hall reflects fears raised by women’s groups that their participation is a mere token on the Vatican’s part.” By Rosie Scammell, Religion News Service, on Cruxnow.com

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Women speak up about equality in the church from the heart of the Vatican / National Catholic Reporter

OK, I’m gobsmacked, as the Brits say (‘gobsmacked’: adjective, British, informal: utterly astonished; astounded). I spent four hours on International Women’s Day watching a Voices of Faith event ‘from the heart of the Vatican’ in which women shared stories ‘for a creative exchange of ideas from a female perspective.’ There were some amazing narratives.”

By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this article.

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For women’s day, group takes a message to the Vatican / National Public Radio

Today (Mar. 8) is International Women’s Day, and the Vatican is opening its doors to a group of women from all over the world pressing for greater participation in the Catholic Church. Today’s event was inspired by Pope Francis’ statements that women should have a fuller role in the life of the church. NPR’s Sylvia Poggioli has the story.”

By Sylvia Poggioli, National Public Radio — Click here to listen to the rest of this story.

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Women see themselves left out amid talk of change in Catholic Church / The New York Times

In the first two years of his papacy, Pope Francis has stirred great expectations for change among Roman Catholics who believe that the church has not kept pace with the social transformations of secular society.

“Nowhere are those hopes felt more keenly, perhaps, than among women, often the driving force behind local church communities, but who say that their voices remain marginalized.

“Though the pope has repeatedly cited the importance of women in the life of the church, critics say he has at times proved strikingly tone-deaf toward the sensitivities and needs of women (for example, describing five women he appointed to a committee as “the strawberries on the cake”).”

By Elisabetta Povoledo, The New York Times — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Lost in translation: seven reasons some women wince when Pope Francis starts talking / Religion News Service

When Pope Francis this month wanted to highlight his appointment of several women to a blue-ribbon theological commission, he called the female theologians ‘strawberries on the cake.’

“Yikes.

“Two weeks earlier, when the pontiff gave a speech to the European Parliament, he used another lady-based analogy, this time underscoring the continent’s demographic decline and cultural crisis by comparing Europe to a grandmother who is ‘no longer fertile and vibrant.’

“Ouch.

“Yes, Francis is a veritable quote machine, tossing off-the-cuff bon mots that the public finds enormously appealing in large part because they are coming from a Roman pontiff — not an office known for its improv routines.

“But when he speaks about women, Francis can sound a lot like the (almost) 78-year-old Argentine churchman that he is, using analogies that sound alternately condescending and impolitic, even if well-intentioned.”

By David Gibson, Religion News Service — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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