In Vatican newspaper, theologians reflect on women preaching at Mass

By Carol Glatz

CITY (CNS) — The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, published several
commentaries reflecting on the possibility of allowing laypeople, including
women, to preach at Mass.

already guide retreats, lead conferences and preach in some circumstances,
wrote French Dominican Sister Catherine Aubin. 

why can’t they preach before everyone during a celebration” of Mass? said
the commentary — one of a series to appear March 2 in the newspaper’s monthly
insert dedicated to women.

liturgical norms say that people who are not ordained — including nuns — may
not preach the homily at Mass, although they can preach in other situations.

Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law teaches that qualified and committed lay
Catholic men and women are allowed to preach in particular circumstances and
cooperate in exercising the ministry of the word. Preaching during Mass,
however, is reserved to those who have received the sacrament of orders, that
is, deacons and priests.

Aubin, who is a theologian and professor at Rome’s Pontifical Urbanian
University, said people who have experienced the joy and love of Christ are
unable to “stop themselves from going out to speak it, to announce it, to
proclaim it, because it is him, Christ, who makes all men and women —
encountered along his journey — witnesses, messengers and apostles.”

Dominican Sister Madeleine Fredell wrote in her article that preaching is part
of her vocation as a Dominican, and “even though I can (preach) almost
anywhere,” she regretted “not being able to give the homily during

am convinced that listening to the voice of women at the moment of the homily
would enrich our Catholic worship,” said the theologian.

Bianchi, prior of the Bose ecumenical community, wrote in the newspaper’s main
section that the issue of allowing laypeople, especially women, to deliver the
homily “is sensitive, but I believe it is urgent to address it.”

would be important, without changing traditional doctrine, to offer the
possibility to laypeople, men and women, to speak in the liturgical assembly
with some clear conditions,” he wrote.

he said, the lay Catholic must recognize that preaching is a charism and gift
meant to be of real service to others and he or she must receive approval, even
temporary, from the bishop, he said. Additionally, he said, before the delivery
of the homily, at the ambo the priest presiding at Mass could bless the person
the bishop has authorized to preach.

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