VATICAN CITY - The Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore
Romano, published several commentaries reflecting on the
possibility of allowing laypeople, including women, to preach
Women already guide retreats, lead conferences and preach in
some circumstances, wrote French Dominican Sister Catherine
"So 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
Church 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.
The 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.
Sister 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
Swedish 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
"I am convinced that listening to the voice of women at the
moment of the homily would enrich our Catholic worship," said
Enzo 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."
"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.
Specifically, 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.