Wednesday, 28 July 2010

The why do we bother file - an Australian diocese institutes female lectors...

Somehow or other, I always seem to strike some abuse or undesirable event when I go to Sunday mass these days.   Mostly its the normal stuff - those annoying jolting moments inherent in the novus ordo ritual; odd breaks in the ritual to remind us that it's all about us, not God; altar girls; suspect sermons and so forth. 

But today's was a classic - on the same Sunday that the bishop of this diocese was over at the traditional Latin Mass community conducting some confirmations (if I were of a machiavellian mindset I would speculate that the date might have been set in the hope that most of the likely troublemakers would be elsewhere - except that I'm almost sure this wasn't the first occasion on which this has occurred), the administrator of his Cathedral was (illicitly) instituting four women as lectors.

Now women can of course, under the current Code of  Canon Law, receive temporary assignment to the role of lector.

And the Synod on Scripture held last year certainly put the idea of allowing women to be called to the stable ministry of lector on the table.  But unless I missed it (and I'm pretty sure I didn't), that hasn't actually been agreed yet, and remains prohibited by Canon Law.  Given the concern around the world the idea raised, I wouldn't be betting on it happening any time soon either.

Now it may be that what I saw yesterday wasn't really the institution of lectors, but some faux ceremonial around the temporary calling of persons to fill the role.  If that was the case, it should have been made clearer, so as not to give rise to scandal. 

Because while I'll admit that the institution of lectors is not a ceremony that I'm familiar with (though I've looked up the ceremonial on the net), it certainly seemed to be just that.  It started with the naming of four people 'called to the ministry of lector'.  Involved some prayers with narry a mention of temporary, or extraordinary minister or anything to indicate that it was anything other than a permanent ministry.  And it included them all being given the Bible.  Then everyone clapped.

Strange happenings indeed.


CatholicConvert said...

I believe the institution (making permanent) of acolytes and lectors actually requires a Bishop or a duly authorized substitute (it is not a casual matter). When I was doing the update training for acolytes, the question of whether my institution had been done validly (by a retired Bishop) was a matter of great debate (it turned out that he had been delegated to do so by the Cardinal so all was well).

Terra said...

I have no reason to think that the archbishop had not authorized the priest concerned, given that he was in fact the administrator of the Cathedral.

Of course, whether or not that had occurred is in a sense irrelevant - either way the process was certainly illicit given the current prohibition on female instituted lectors in canon law; whether it is also invalid I'm not sure...