Pope Francis formally opens ministries of lector and acolyte to women

Vatican Media

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Pope Francis has changed the Code of Canon Law to formally allow what has already been implemented in practice: opening the Ministries of lector and acolyte to women.

The two lay ministries had been instituted by Pope Paul VI in 1972, replacing minor orders. Acolytes assist the clergy during liturgical ceremonies, particularly mass, while lectors read the Word of God.

There is nothing new about allowing women to carry out these ministries: many Bishops authorise the practice within their diocese. But this had been done without a proper mandate: Pope Paul VI had decided to limit access to men.

The Canon now states that “lay persons who possess the age and qualifications established by decree of the conference of bishops can be admitted on a stable basis through the prescribed liturgical rite to the ministries of lector and acolyte,” doing away with the term “lay men.”

The Pope explained the theological motivations behind his decision in a letter to the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, describing it as a continuation of the “spectrum of renewal” outlined in the Second Vatican Council.