Let Women Preach?

Essays in L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, urged the Catholic Church to allow women to preach from the pulpit at Mass, a role that has been reserved almost exclusively to the all-male clergy for centuries. Enzo Bianchi, leader of an ecumenical religious community in northern Italy, wrote, “Certainly for faithful lay people in general, but above all for women, this would constitute a fundamental change in their participation in church life.” He called such a move a “decisive path” for responding to widespread calls—including by Pope Francis—to find ways to give women a greater role in the church. In her column, Sister Catherine Aubin, a French Dominican who teaches theology at a pontifical university in Rome, noted that Jesus encouraged women to preach his message of salvation and that throughout church history there have been many extraordinary women evangelists. “Let us sincerely pose a question then,” Sister Aubin wrote. “Why can’t women also preach in front of everyone during the celebration of Mass?”

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Bruce Snowden
3 years ago
Respectfully I have taken this post from a previous posting on a different site and applied it here because I believe it offers a valid foundational premise to the question being discussed, although I acknowledge the premise has not been authoritatively studied. Nonetheless I venture forward. She must have been about Fourteen, at the most Fifteen when she preached her first homily, saying in effect, “Yes, go ahead and do it, your word is good enough for me.” Then “The Word was made Flesh!” She preached again on a visit to her pregnant cousin, Elizabeth, saying “My soul magnifies the Lord!” She didn’t make God look greater, just more tangible. She embodied God! Another time when she was about twenty-seven she and her husband, Joseph, got the scare of their lives – on a trip to the Temple they lost their twelve year old son, Jesus! Did you ever lose a child, say on a crowded beach in summer? My wife and I did when our five year old child walked away from us as we chatted with friends. Sheer panic and guilt took over! Thankfully we found our five year old safe and sound, digging in the sand near the water’s edge, as did Joseph and Mary their twelve year old, not at the water’s edge but in the Temple questioning and answering the Doctors of the Law much to their amazement. It was customary in those days for women to walk with the women and men with men. Children could walk with either parent. Joseph thought Jesus was with his mother and Mary thought he was with his father. Speaks good to me about Joseph and Mary not being overly protective parents When she and Joseph found him, the natural sense panic and guilt evaporated but relieved anxiety sounded in the mother’s voice saying to her boy, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have searched for you sorrowing.” Homily ended the twelve year old gave in effect, the typical answer of a twelve year old, “I thought you knew!” Finally when she was in her late forties at a wedding feast she noticed an embarrassing thing was about to happen, so she whispered to her son, Jesus, “The wine is running out!” We know his answer. She said to the attendants, “Do whatever he tells you.” That’s’ the best homily Mary ever preached, Redemption activated in five words, “DO WHATEVER HE TELLS YOU!” So, what am I saying? I’m saying the Mother of Jesus led the way homiletically, her body the pulpit so it seems to me. I hear her Incarnation “Yes” as the “yes answer” to “Can women preach in church?” The Spirit moves where it wills, resonating well in the Mary’s gentle voice, prototypical as Jesus once said of himself, like “a mother hen gathering her chicks under her wings.” Jesus had no problem identifying with the female form. Why should he? After all, it was Trinitarian designed and as Faith assures he was “Personally” involved! Why should we, the Church, have a problem identifying liturgically with the female form?


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