Women lay ministry roles confirmed by Canon Law changes

A change to the Code of Canon Law was signed by Pope Francis on 11 January 2021. The Motu Propriu observes that “certain ministries instituted by the Church are based on the common condition of being baptised and the regal priesthood received in the Sacrament of Baptism” rather than from ordination, and confirms that such lay ministries may therefore be entrusted to both male and female faithful.

Pope Francis goes on to decree that canon 230 § 1 of the Code of Canon Law shall in future have the following wording:

Lay persons of suitable age and with the gifts determined by decree of the Episcopal Conference may be permanently assigned, by means of the established liturgical rite, to the ministries of lectors and acolytes;…”

This change in Canon Law ratifies what has already been in common practice in many dioceses across the world, but it appears to be the first officially documented right of women to a proper institutional mandate to carry out church ministries such as readers, servers and eucharistic ministers.

The Holy Father says in his letter accompanying the Motu Proprio, that in the mission of the church “we are ordained to each other”, ordained and non-ordained ministers, men and women, in a mutual relationship.

The Vatican press release can be read here

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