Catholic World News

Vatican newspaper publishes arguments for allowing women to preach at Mass

March 02, 2016

The Vatican newspaper has published essays suggesting that women should be allowed to preach at Mass.

Under existing canon law, only priests and deacons are authorized to preach at Mass. But in a special section of L'Osservatore Romano dedicated to women's role in the Church, three writers call for a re-examination of that policy.

"This topic is a delicate one," acknowledges Enzo Bianchi, the founder and head of the Bose ecumenical community; "but I believe it is urgent that we address it." He says that allowing women to preach would be "a fundamental change in their participation in Church life."

Sister Catherine Aubin, a Dominican theologian, adds an observation that women have been effective evangelists throughout the history of the Church, and today are regularly invited to lead spiritual retreats. Sister Madeleine Fredell remarks that she is allowed to preach in Lutheran churches, and says, "I believe that listening to the voice of women at the time of the homily would enrich our Catholic worship."

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  • Posted by: Bveritas2322 - Mar. 03, 2016 4:00 PM ET USA

    God placed limitations on our intelligence but none on our stupidity. The ways in which the sin of pride rears its ugly head are infinite. Anyone who assumes a "right" to preach is obviously unfit.

  • Posted by: garedawg - Mar. 03, 2016 9:50 AM ET USA

    A Protestant pastor whom I know, who used to be a nun in one of those remote rectangular states, said she often preached homilies. They didn't have enough priests or deacons, so many of the parishes had communion or other types of services. Eventually the Vatican cracked down on the practice, and I think around that time she left the Church.

  • Posted by: Conor Cook - Mar. 03, 2016 9:13 AM ET USA

    Indeed, women may lector, cantor, serve, minister extraordinarily, etc. However, only ordained clerics can proclaim the Gospel, purify the vessels (!), confect the Eucharist (priests only, in fact), etc. The homily, flowing from the proclamation of the Gospel and being a distinct ministry within the liturgy, requires the action of an ordained minister. More effort should be spent on liturgical formation than liturgical change. Too few appreciate the nature of the liturgy.

  • Posted by: k_cusick1963 - Mar. 03, 2016 8:33 AM ET USA

    I Cor. 14:34-40. Holy Scripture and Sacred Tradition make it clear that we all have gifts to use for the glory of God. Men's and women's roles in the church will differ, but compliment one another. Jesus' teaches that it is pride within us that sees one gift as being superior to another. We are all called to be servants. I am a woman, and therefore it is not my place to ever preach in church, but that does not mean in any way that my gifts are irrelevant or inferior to a priest's or a deacon's.

  • Posted by: presbergc3900 - Mar. 03, 2016 12:09 AM ET USA

    Women's preaching at Mass would make us more Protestant, if that is the Vatican's purpose. And why not diminish or eliminate the ministerial priesthood sltogether? Doesn't such a priesthood follow from the oudated view that Jesus founded a Church and ordained apostles? Merciful for the Vatican to discard all that for the sake of our souls.

  • Posted by: lak321 - Mar. 02, 2016 10:32 PM ET USA

    Lay people are not ordained to teach as priests are. And there are serious holes in catechesis of many laypeople these days. Which puts Father in uncomfortable position of having to straighten things out. Iw ould rather have a mediocre homily from a priest than a great one from a layperson. And I agree with Elizabeth 100%. (And I am a woman.)

  • Posted by: Rose of Lima - Mar. 02, 2016 7:11 PM ET USA

    If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

  • Posted by: John3822 - Mar. 02, 2016 6:44 PM ET USA

    I think it's a great idea - having guest homilists be either clergy or lay can be beneficial. I don't see the linkage between harmonizing the Gospel and being clergy... lay people can do this as well.

  • Posted by: ElizabethD - Mar. 02, 2016 5:10 PM ET USA

    One reason for a sacramentally ordained minister to preach the homily is unity of the proclamation of the Word with the Eucharist--and it's the bishop who gives them the faculty to preach. Members of the Body of Christ proclaim Christ in different & complementary ways; clericalizing laity & sisters disrespects their own distinctive mission. I discussed this in my book on the Sinsinawa Dominicans: http://www.fathermazzuchellisociety.org/the-preaching-of-the-non-ordained-why-not-sister-homilists/