Women in 'Minor Orders'

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keitha
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Women in 'Minor Orders'

Post by keitha »

Pope Francis has just issued a motu proprio that women can be installed in the liturgical ministries of lector and acolyte.

Ok, women have been proclaiming readings at Mass, and girls have been serving on the altar (both with Vatican permission) – for 30 years or so, but up until now, only males could be installed in these ministries under St Paul VI's 1973 motu proprio, Ministeria quaedam - which reformed the old minor orders (which became 'Ministries'). This has meant in practice that almost no-one is installed in these ministries, except for seminarians.

Some have argued that these ministries should have been restricted to men only, both in theory and in practice. That argument can have no foundation now - the discrimination is ended.

Men and women will continue to read and serve as before, but now they will be able to do so with an official mandate from the bishop and a full liturgical/ceremonial affirmation of their important liturgical role. This should IMHO have a positive effect on liturgical ministry training programmes and on peoples' view of the significance of these ministries. It's now up to the bishops to implement it in their dioceses!
Keith Ainsworth

alan29
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Re: Women in 'Minor Orders'

Post by alan29 »

It raises a number of questions.
If lay people do these things at present it is by virtue of their baptism .... why "clericalize" this lay right?
If they are commissioned by the bishop will it be just for their parish, or for a wider ministry?
Will commissioned people go to the top of the queue when rotas are being put together?
Will there be a lower (or upper) age limit - plenty of children function as acolytes?
Will commissioned acolytes replace Eucharistic Ministers? And will Eucharistic Minister need to be commissioned as acolytes in the future?

Fr Allen Morris
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Re: Women in 'Minor Orders'

Post by Fr Allen Morris »

There is a certain 'confusion' of language in alan29's email. I hope the question marks mean its ok to offer some clarification (at least at the level of the theory of things!)

If lay people do these things at present it is by virtue of their baptism .... why "clericalize" this lay right?
It is not clericalising, and certainly not literally so - but it is introducing a new level of ministry which is distinguished by commitment and formation beyond just 'reading' or 'serving' because 'Father' has asked me to.

If they are commissioned by the bishop will it be just for their parish, or for a wider ministry?
It is not being commissioned but technically it is being instituted to an ecclesial ministry which can be exercised more broadly than just a parish (as and when needed)

Will commissioned people go to the top of the queue when rotas are being put together?
I would expect instituted ministers to have a certain priority in exercising their ministry - but because of their skill etc rather than by virtue of office. But again, I would not expect there to be many such ministers around - given the sort of formation that is likely to be required. And certainly they should not be as blotting paper soaking up, attracting to themselves all opportunities to minister. Quite possibly they will be encouraged to be the principal promoter of other lay people wanting to assist - for example as readers.

Will there be a lower (or upper) age limit - plenty of children function as acolytes?
Given the level of commitment, and that this is effectively a life long commitment, I would think there would be a lower age limit. Elsewhere Paul Inwood has suggested something like a continued competency test! Though not, I think, an upper age limit. Children would continue as altar servers (not, technically, as acolytes - even though that term is often used for servers, especially those carrying candles)

Will commissioned acolytes replace Eucharistic Ministers?
Again, technically, only priests and bishops are Eucharistic ministers. Lay people assisting in the distribution of Holy COmmunion (other than instituted acolytes are ministers of Holy Communion. Rome calls them extraordinary, but a while back bishops of E&W expressed a preference for calling them 'commissioned ministers of Holy Communion.

And will Eucharistic Minister need to be commissioned as acolytes in the future?
There should not be any thing like an automatic institution of ministers of Holy Communion as Acolytes. Instituted acolytes would assist alongside commissioned ministers of Holy Communion. And as noted re Lectors and readers, instituted Acolytes might well have a care for promoting such ministry amongst the rest of a congregation/church community.

It could make a good deal of difference to our dioceses having these ministries finally in place after all these years. It could just be the opportunity for bishops to put in place good and sustained lay ministerial and liturgical formation processes across all the dioceses of E&W.

alan29
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Re: Women in 'Minor Orders'

Post by alan29 »

Fr Allen Morris wrote:
Wed Jan 13, 2021 7:48 pm
Thank you for your considered reply. If I might reflect on it
There is a certain 'confusion' of language in alan29's email. I hope the question marks mean its ok to offer some clarification (at least at the level of the theory of things!)

If lay people do these things at present it is by virtue of their baptism .... why "clericalize" this lay right?
It is not clericalising, and certainly not literally so - but it is introducing a new level of ministry which is distinguished by commitment and formation beyond just 'reading' or 'serving' because 'Father' has asked me to.
Is that a tad patronising? Reader I know are already committed to what they do, and in our place "Father" has nothing to do with choosing them. It would be difficult to imagine what the "new level" would actually add to those who are committed. About clericalisation ... I was thinking in days of yore when men were tonsured as clerics before being given minor orders and drawing a parallel.

If they are commissioned by the bishop will it be just for their parish, or for a wider ministry?
It is not being commissioned but technically it is being instituted to an ecclesial ministry which can be exercised more broadly than just a parish (as and when needed)
readers and Extraordinary Ministers already exercise their ministry outside their parish boundaries.

Will commissioned people go to the top of the queue when rotas are being put together?
I would expect instituted ministers to have a certain priority in exercising their ministry - but because of their skill etc rather than by virtue of office. But again, I would not expect there to be many such ministers around - given the sort of formation that is likely to be required. And certainly they should not be as blotting paper soaking up, attracting to themselves all opportunities to minister. Quite possibly they will be encouraged to be the principal promoter of other lay people wanting to assist - for example as readers.
Good point.

Will there be a lower (or upper) age limit - plenty of children function as acolytes?
Given the level of commitment, and that this is effectively a life long commitment, I would think there would be a lower age limit. Elsewhere Paul Inwood has suggested something like a continued competency test! Though not, I think, an upper age limit. Children would continue as altar servers (not, technically, as acolytes - even though that term is often used for servers, especially those carrying candles)
Continued competency tests - now there's an idea in the church! Could it be extended to clerics, do you think?

Will commissioned acolytes replace Eucharistic Ministers?
Again, technically, only priests and bishops are Eucharistic ministers. Lay people assisting in the distribution of Holy COmmunion (other than instituted acolytes are ministers of Holy Communion. Rome calls them extraordinary, but a while back bishops of E&W expressed a preference for calling them 'commissioned ministers of Holy Communion.
Point taken.

And will Eucharistic Minister need to be commissioned as acolytes in the future?
There should not be any thing like an automatic institution of ministers of Holy Communion as Acolytes. Instituted acolytes would assist alongside commissioned ministers of Holy Communion. And as noted re Lectors and readers, instituted Acolytes might well have a care for promoting such ministry amongst the rest of a congregation/church community.

It could make a good deal of difference to our dioceses having these ministries finally in place after all these years. It could just be the opportunity for bishops to put in place good and sustained lay ministerial and liturgical formation processes across all the dioceses of E&W.
Musicians have been crying out for this for years. Good lay formation in general is desperately needed, not just for "specialists."

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keitha
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Re: Women in 'Minor Orders'

Post by keitha »

I'm a little bothered if readers are being selected by someone other than, in a parish, the parish priest!

As I said in my original posting, its really now over to the bishops to take this further and make it work in a reasonable and coherent manner, with the necessary formation being provided. The Bishops Conference has the right to determine the age at which people can be installed in either or both ministries. Interestingly, "Lay people who are pledged to the special service of the Church...have a duty to acquire the appropriate formation which their role demands..." (Canon 231).

So, to make this work, (i) the Bishops Conference has to decree what age/talents are appropriate; (ii) each Ordinary has to decide within his Diocese or Ordinariate what practical steps are required for persons to be installed and (iii) appropriate means of formation and assessment need to be introduced.

It will be interesting to see what, if any, of the above happen. I strongly suspect that in the absence of any clamour from lay people and parish priests, nothing much will change; Lectors and Acolytes will continue to be installed solely from among seminarians.

I am hoping to be proved wrong!
Keith Ainsworth

alan29
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Re: Women in 'Minor Orders'

Post by alan29 »

There has been precious little money for lay education and formation in the past.
I suspect the impact of Covid on collections will mean even fewer funds in future.

blackthorn fairy
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Re: Women in 'Minor Orders'

Post by blackthorn fairy »

I can recommend a book called 'The Hidden History of Women's Ordination' (forgotten the author and I can noi longer find it on my shelf) but it goes right back to the early church - who was doing what, why and when) and how it all got suppressed. Guess why?

Southern Comfort
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Re: Women in 'Minor Orders'

Post by Southern Comfort »

blackthorn fairy wrote:
Thu Jan 21, 2021 1:01 pm
I can recommend a book called 'The Hidden History of Women's Ordination' (forgotten the author and I can noi longer find it on my shelf) but it goes right back to the early church - who was doing what, why and when) and how it all got suppressed. Guess why?
Professor Gary Macy, an excellent speaker as well as author.

https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/247405.Gary_Macy

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