By Vatican News staff writer
The International Union of Superiors General (UISG) has expressed its gratitude to Pope Francis for his Motu Proprio Spiritus Domini, which institutionalized the ministerial participation of women in the Church.
On Monday, Pope Francis, with a Motu Proprio, established that from now on the ministries of Lector and Acolyte are to be open to women, in a stable and institutionalized form through a specific mandate.
Though it is not new in many communities to see women proclaiming the Word of God during liturgical celebrations or carrying out a service at the altar as altar servers or Eucharistic ministers, it had been done up till now without a proper institutional mandate.
Spiritus Domini: response to dynamism of the Church
“We are pleased to note that the title of the Motu Proprio is Spiritus Domini,” UISG said in a statement released on Tuesday on its website.
“The decision that not only men but also women may be instituted as Lectors or Acolytes is a sign and a response to the ‘dynamism that characterizes the nature of the Church,’ a dynamism that is proper to the Holy Spirit constantly challenging the Church in obedience to Revelation and reality.”
UISG also notes that the document was released in conjunction with the Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord – a day God “is revealed in communion with Jesus who became a servant.” Looking at Jesus “we renew our common baptismal dignity as sons and daughters in Him, as brothers and sisters. From the baptismal font and then the chrismal anointing we, all baptized men and women, become sharers in the life and mission of Christ and capable of serving the community.”
Contributing to the Church’s mission
Being able to contribute to the mission of the Church, sharing the ministries, the Superiors General emphasize, will “help us understand, as the Holy Father says in his letter accompanying the Motu Proprio, that in this mission “we are ordained to each other”, ordained and non-ordained ministers, men and women, in a mutual relationship.
This, UISG stresses, “strengthens the evangelical testimony of communion.”
UISG also highlights that the universal character of the Motu Proprio is a confirmation in the Church’s path in acknowledging the service of so many women who have cared and continue to care for the service of the Word and the Altar.
In many places, the statement notes, “women, and especially consecrated women, fulfill different pastoral ministries following the guidelines of the bishops, in responding to the needs of evangelization.”