Pope Francis granted women the ministry of reader and catechist for the first time

A catechist receives a crucifix from Pope Francis during the Holy Mass held every year on the third Sunday in January to celebrate and study the Word of God, in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, on January 23, 2022. REUTERS /Remo Casilli (REMO CASILLI/)

This ceremony, for the III Day of the Word of God, is a novelty and its rite was prepared by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. It is a new rite in the basilica of San Pedro after changing the Code of Canon Law.

The new readers -two men and six women- and catechists -five men and three women-, arrived from various parts of the world such as Peru or Brazil, they sat before the papal altar and were called by name to receive the mandate.

A lectoar receives a gospel from <a class=Pope Francis during Holy Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, January 23, 2022. REUTERS/Remo Casilli” height=”2660″ src=”https://www.americanchronicles.news/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/1642934338_453_Pope-Francis-granted-women-the-ministry-of-reader-and-catechist.jpg” width=”4000″ />
A lectoar receives a gospel from Pope Francis during Holy Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, on January 23, 2022. REUTERS/Remo Casilli (REMO CASILLI/)

Then the Pope handed a Bible to each of the new readers, kneeling before him: “Receive the book of the Holy Scriptures and faithfully transmit the word of God so that it germinates and bears fruit in the hearts of men,” he summoned them.

The catechists received a cross like the pastoral of Paul VI and John Paul II, traveling popes, underlining the “missionary character” of their service: “Receive this sign of our faith, chair of the truth and charity of Christ, and announce it with life, action and word”, urged the pope.

A lecturer receives a new gospel from Pope Francis
A lecturer receives a new gospel from Pope Francis (REMO CASILLI /)

They are the men and women who help at mass or perform a service at the altar, as ministers or dispensers of the Eucharist, something that is actually quite common in dioceses around the world but that Francis has institutionalized and opened up to women in writing, officially.

The pontiff published in January 2021 the “motu proprio” “Spiritus domini” to modify the Code of Canon Law and open the ministries of reader and acolyte to women.

Francis thus repealed what was ordered by his predecessor Paul VI, who in 1972 maintained access to these ministries only for men, since he considered these ecclesiastical services as a prelude to eventual access to holy orders or priesthood.

The new formulation of the canon 230 eliminates the specification of male sex and reads: “The laity of an age and gifts determined by decree of the Episcopal Conference may be employed permanently, through the established liturgical rite, in the ministries of readers and acolytes.”

In his homily, Francis, before the new readers and catechists, explained that God “is not a tyrant who shuts himself up in heaven, but a Father who follows in our footsteps.” “It is not a neutral and indifferent god, but the loving Spirit of man, who defends us, advises us, takes sides in our favor, gets involved and commits himself to our pain,” he said.

Francis advocated “uniting the worship of God and the care of man” because the Scriptures do not serve, he said, to “pamper us in an angelic spirituality” but “to go out to meet others and draw closer to their wounds.”

In this sense, he recalled the migratory phenomenon of the Mediterranean: “How much pain we feel when we see our brothers and sisters die at sea because they are not allowed to disembark. And this, some in the name of God!” he lamented.

new martyrs

Catholic faithful and members of the clergy attend the beatification ceremony for priests Rutilio Grande and Cosme Spessotto and laymen Manuel Solorzano and Nelson Lemus at the Plaza El Salvador del Mundo in San Salvador, El Salvador January 22, 2022. REUTERS/Jose heads
Catholic faithful and members of the clergy attend the beatification ceremony for priests Rutilio Grande and Cosme Spessotto and laymen Manuel Solorzano and Nelson Lemus at the Plaza El Salvador del Mundo in San Salvador, El Salvador January 22, 2022. REUTERS/Jose Heads (JOSE CABEZAS/)

Priests Rutilio Grande (Salvadoran), Cosme Spessotto (Italian) and laymen Nelson Lemus and Manuel Solórzano yesterday became the new martyrs of the Catholic Church of El Salvador after being raised to the altars more than 40 years after their murders in the context of the civil war (1980-1992). past

“With our apostolic authority we grant that the venerable servants of God Rutilio Grande, Manuel Solórzona and Nelson Lemus, as well as Cosme Spessotto, martyrs, heroic witnesses of the kingdom of God and the kingdom of justice (…) from now on be called blessed”, Father Rodolfo Cardenal proclaimed when reading the apostolic letter sent by Pope Francis.

The letter also establishes that the martyrs – now considered as such by the Catholic Church – “be celebrated each year in the places and according to the rules established by law, respectively on March 12 and June 10.”

El Salvador had its first blessed in 2015 when Monsignor Óscar Arnulfo Romero -later canonized in 2018-, killed by a sniper of the extreme right death squads in 1980 while officiating a mass in the chapel of a hospital for cancer patients, was beatified.

Spessotto, Romero and Grande were assassinated for “hatred of the faith”, according to each of the Vatican decrees, and are remembered for their defense of poor Salvadorans -hard hit by the internal armed conflict that left more than 75,000 dead and between 8,000 and 10,000 missing.

Each one -in their own way- denounced the attacks by the security forces against the civilian population and other human rights violations. The murders of the Jesuit father Grande, Nelson and Manuel, were perpetrated in March 1977, they will be 45 years old in 2022 without the perpetrators of the act having faced the Salvadoran justice.

Meanwhile, in June of this year, 42 years will be commemorated since the assassination of the Italian religious Spessotto, who was born on January 28, 1923 in Mansuè (Treviso), was sent to Central America as a missionary in 1950 and assigned to the municipality of San Juan Nonualco, in the central department of La Paz.

At least 500 religious, including priests, monks and laity, were killed before and during the internal Salvadoran war.

Among the religious victims are also the six Jesuit priests of the Central American University (UCA), five of them Spanish; three American nuns from the Maryknoll order; and various catechists from the Ecclesial Base Communities.

The Salvadoran war pitted the Army against the then-guerrilla Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), now an opposition political party.

With information from EFE


The Catholic Church beatified priests killed by soldiers in El Salvador