A “pink turn” towards women in the Catholic Church?

October 27, 2008

“Synod takes a ‘pink’ turn — Bible read by women.” Huh?

I bet even a lot of Italians were confused when they saw that headline on Corriere della Sera‘s report on the end of the Roman Catholic bishops’ synod in Rome on Saturday. Women have been reading Scriptural passages at Mass in the Catholic Church all around the world for decades. How can this be news? And what makes it a “pink turn?”

Thank you, David Gibson, for showing I’m not the only one who didn’t get this one at first. The synod, which met for most of October to discuss the role the Bible plays in the Church, presented Pope Benedict with 55 proposals for his consideration. Proposal number 17 read: “It is hoped that the ministry of lector be opened also to women, so that their role as proclaimers of the word may be recognised in the Christian community.” The whole list of proposals is written in Latin and available only in Italian.

John Thavis, the Catholic News Serivce bureau chief at the Vatican, explained how women have been lectors all these years without officially being recognised as such. Their role as readers — one of the most visible roles for women in the Church — is actually a temporary exception to the rule that only men can be installed in such ministries. The bishops are now proposing that this role becomes official, so there would be a “pink turn” if this proposal is accepted.

There’s an important theological question behind this, i.e. whether the all-male rule for the priesthood applies to other ministries in the Church. Fr. Z, a solid source for the traditional view of this, thinks it does and explains why. But comments on various blogs are divided.

What kind of signal will all those women lectors get if Pope Benedict turns down this proposal?

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