Pope Francis has granted this Sunday to several men and also women the ministries of catechists and readers for the first time, in a new rite in Saint Peter's Basilica, after changing the Code of Canon Law.
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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.
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, have sat in front of the papal altar and have been called by name to receive the mandate .
Later, the Pope gave 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 told them located.
Catechists have 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 your life, action and word", the Pope urged them.
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 actually quite common in dioceses around the world, but which 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Francis thus repealed what was ordered by his predecessor Paul VI, who in 1972 maintained access to these ministries only for men, since he considered these ecclesiastical services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 canon 230 eliminates the specification of male sex and reads: "Laity of an age and gifts determined by decree of the Episcopal Conference may be permanently employed, 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 has 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.