Pope Francis on Monday officially allowed women to serve as liturgy readers and servers in a decree clarifying that these roles are segregated from the all-male priesthood.
It was a formal recognition in canon law of what has already happened in many churches around the world where women serve in these lay roles. However, by introducing the amendment to the Code of Canon Law, it would be impossible for conservative clergy to prevent women from assuming these roles.
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“The decision to give women these offices, which include stability, public recognition and the mandate of the bishop, makes everyone’s participation in evangelization work in the Church more effective,” the decree says.
In the decree “Spiritus Domini” (The Spirit of the Lord) the Pope said that he made his decision after theological consideration.
He said many bishops from around the world said the change was necessary to respond to the “needs of the time.”
Reuters contributed to this report.