….As usual with Francis, there are curiosities behind this document [on women acolytes and lectors].
Where is the consultative process in all this? I thought this was the Pope of collegiality and synodality. There is not a shred of evidence that anyone was consulted. This is reminiscent of Francis’ behavior in the framing of Mitis Iudex in 2015, reforming certain procedures for pursuing a decree of nullity in a marital case. No one was brought into the discussion prior to the decree’s promulgation, as a result of which numerous situations unforeseen by the Pope and his inner circle surfaced only later, so that the document is relatively useless. The Church demands consultation for a reason.
Even Pope Pius IX, in the lead-up to his definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, sought the input of the worldwide episcopate (as did Pius XII with the dogma of the Assumption). All wisdom does not reside in one man, and that is particularly true of Francis, who has a shallow theological background and who actually has expressed his near-disdain for theology on numerous occasions.
Another oddity: The Pope writes a letter to the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, instructing him on the rationale for this decision. I thought it was supposed to be the other way around. Was this done because the prefect refused to sign onto this document?
Further, why was Francis seemingly compelled to call on a professor from the Lateran University to provide the “explanatory note” for the document? Is it because, once more, he could find no one within his own Curia to endorse his decision?
Several times, Francis is at pains to distance this move from giving any quarter to female access to the episcopate, presbyterate or diaconate. Of course, this move does, in fact, give grounds for the false hope that access to the formal ministries of lector and acolyte is indeed a stepping stone to eventual ordination. That is pastorally insensitive and harmful to the souls of those being misled. Or, is this document a sop to those fixated on the female diaconate, giving them a soft landing for a final negative judgment on the female diaconate?
What is equally odd is that Francis, arguably the most anti-clerical Pope in history, has now engaged in that very clericalization that he has so often condemned and that was foreseen by John Paul over thirty years ago.
If Francis thought that this action would placate those pressing the cause of female ordination, he is grossly mistaken. The only effect of this document will be a further alienation of those he has alienated for years….
The above comes from a Jan. 11 story on Catholic World Report by Father Peter Stravinskas.