Synod Suggests Ministry of Lector for Women

Fathers See It as Recognition of Their Proclamation of the Word

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 27, 2008 ( Among the 55 propositions presented to Benedict XVI at the conclusion of the synod of bishops on the Word of God, is the suggestion to open the formal ministry of lector to women.

The proposition is No. 17 on the list and it makes reference to indications from Pope Paul VI after the Second Vatican Council regarding “instituted,” not “ordained” ministries.

A translation of the proposition reads: “The synod fathers recognize and encourage the service of laypeople in the transmission of the faith. Women, in particular, have in this regard an indispensable role, above all in the family and in catechesis. In fact, women know how to stir up the listening to the Word and the personal relationship with God, and to communicate the meaning of forgiveness and the Gospel capacity to share.

“It is suggested that the ministry of lector be opened also to women, so that in the Christian communities, their role as announcers of the Word is recognized.”

The proposition was approved, meaning at least two-thirds of the assembly voted in favor of it.

Canon 230 of the Code of Canon Law states that only qualified men may be “installed on a stable basis in the ministries of lector and acolyte.” The canon adds that “laypersons can fulfill the function of lector during liturgical actions by temporary deputation,” which is why women currently read at Masses all over the world.

The ministries of acolyte and lector are not ordained ministries, unlike the deaconate, the priesthood and the episcopacy.

In “Ministeria Quaedam” of 1972, Paul VI reformed what were known as “minor orders,” conserving only the ministries of lector and acolyte. Normally seminarians are officially instituted into these ministries in the process leading to their ordination.

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