Woman praying in church – Archivio Siciliani
From now on, women will have access to clergy and auxiliary ministries in the Catholic Church. However, this should not be confused with a partial openness to the priesthood. Through the “Spiritus Domini” principle, in fact, the Pope amended the first paragraph of Law 230 of the Code of Canon Law, establishing that women have access to these ministries and that they are also attributed through ritual action that institutionalizes them. The new wording of the law now states: “The laity having the age and skills determined by the decree of the Bishops’ Conference may be permanently employed, through the established liturgical rite, in the services of readers and assistants.” Thus, the description is “mentioned” in reference to secularists and is present in the text of the law until today’s amendment is canceled.
However, Francis specifies that these are secular services “Fundamentally distinct from the priestly service which is accepted with the sacrament of priesthood.” And in a letter addressed to the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Louis Ladaria, he cites the words of Saint John Paul II which states that “As far as the priestly services are concerned, the Church does not in any way have the power to grant women a priestly ordination”. But for informal ministries such as the educated and the assistant, “it is possible, and today it seems appropriate – as the Supreme Pontiff asserts – to overcome this reserve.” The Pope explains that “to give ordinary people of both sexes access to the assistant and library service, thanks to their participation in the priesthood of baptism, the recognition will also be increased, through the work of a liturgical (institution), of the precious contribution that many lay people, including women, have made to the life and mission of the Church. For some time “.
In fact, for some time, in many churches, women read during ceremonies, and girls (especially) performed altar maids. However, these roles were performed, as Vatican News also mentions, without a real institutional mandate, in detriment to what was established by Saint Paul VI, who decided in 1972, while revoking so-called “small orders”, to keep access to secrecy These ministries are for men only Because he considered them a prelude to any access to the sacred command.
On the one hand, Francis acknowledges what has also been requested by the various Synod of Bishops, refers to the Final Document of the Amazon Synod, and notes how “for the whole Church, in various situations, it is necessary to strengthen and grant services to men and women … The Church of the baptized men and women is that We must reinforce it by strengthening service and, above all, awareness of the dignity of baptism. “