Pope Francis blessing a crowd and a woman reading mass responses

Pope Francis has passed an edict opening more church roles to women, specifically, the role of a Lector and an Acolyte, the Vatican News reported. 

Formalizing a Practice Done in Many Different Places

The edict or Motu Proprio abolished the term “laymen” and replaced it with “laypeople” to emphasize the difference. 

It now says that “lay people who have the age and skills determined by decree of the Episcopal Conference can be permanently employed, through the established liturgical rite.” 

Moreover, the practice of choosing women as lectors or acolytes is not new. In fact, local bishops worldwide have been authorizing them to serve at the altar during service and liturgical celebrations. 

However, it is the first time, the Catholic Church passed a decree on it.

The pope also explains his decree in a letter to Cardinal Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferre of Spain, per Vatican News.

He wrote that it is crucial to confer ministries to men and women to promote “awareness of baptismal dignity.”

However, women are still not allowed to become priests. 

The pope said that “the Church does not have the faculty” to “confer priestly ordination on women.” 

A nun praying on a church pew

Save the Church and Ordain Women Priests

Many Christian denominations in recent years have been allowing women to serve as leaders in their churches. For example, the Episcopal Church and the United Methodist Church have allowed women in leadership roles for years. 

However, despite that development, the largest Christian denomination there is, the Catholic Church, still ban them from such positions.  

Two years ago, there’s a strong call for the Catholic Church to allow females into the priesthood. In fact, activists belonging to the Women’s Ordination Worldwide (WoW) gathered in Rome to tell the Vatican to “save the Catholic Church” through ordaining women.

The calls came after Church leaders considered the idea of allowing married men in the Amazon to become priests. The Catholic Church, specifically in Europe and North America, has been experiencing a priest and church membership shortage. Kate McElwee, a member of WOW, said, “empowering women would save the church.” She also said that the group is advocating for equality, and that includes women’s ordination, per a 2019 Guardian report.

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