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Jesuit priest James Martin: It’s ‘stupefying to me that women cannot preach at Mass’

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July 22, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – It’s “stupefying to me that women cannot preach at Mass,” LGBT activist and Jesuit priest Father James Martin tweeted today, despite biblical admonitions, canon law, and Church teaching against the practice.

Martin linked to an America magazine piece written by a Santa Clara University lecturer who lamented that the “clock” was “turned back” at her parish in 2009 and 2013 when new bishops prohibited women from delivering homilies and then post-homily “reflections,” respectively. 

“In our parish in Northern California, lay women began to preach the good news during the Sunday liturgy in 1996. The practice emerged from within the faith community,” Jean Molesky-Poz, who has also authored a book on Mayan spirituality, wrote. “Several women had approached our pastor and spoke of the devastating lack of women’s spiritual wisdom and leadership in the church for 2,000 years.”

“The faithful during Mass, as well as the presiders, are missing out on the wisdom, experience and inspired reflections of half of its members,” the Jesuit tweeted, suggesting that women should be instructing priests during Mass. “St. Mary Magdalene, pray for us.”

“Just think. Women with PhDs in theology. Catholic sisters with decades of experience. Women spiritual directors. Authors. Mothers. Physicians. Attorneys. Teachers. Grandmothers. Women who work with the poor and marginalized,” mused Martin in a follow-up tweet. “And on and on. The church needs their voices at Mass.”

Martin, who is also a Vatican communications consultor with a large social media following, has over the past several years made a name for himself pushing to normalize homosexuality and transgenderism in the Catholic Church. He has said men in sodomitical partnerships should be able to kiss during Mass, suggested that a Catholic going to a same-sex “wedding” is tantamount to a Catholic going to a Jewish wedding, and supports giving boys access to girls’ bathrooms and vice versa.

He recently celebrated a “pride” Mass before one of the world’s largest LGBT demonstrations. The Catholic Church teaches that homosexual acts are "intrinsically disordered."

Such acts “are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved,” the Catechism of the Catholic Church says (CCC 2357).

The left-wing cleric’s clamoring for female preaching comes as the Church prepares for a synod on the Pan-Amazonian region, which is widely expected to feature attempts by progressivist prelates to abolish the priestly celibacy that is a hallmark of Roman Catholicism and push the idea of female “deaconesses” despite the Church’s teaching that the diaconate is an ordained office and only men may be ordained. The synod’s working document even went as far as to intimate women’s ordination – which the Church’s perennial teaching states is an ontological impossibility – may be on the table.

The Church must “promote vocations among indigenous men and women in order to respond to the need for pastoral and sacramental care,” the document said, while calling on the Church to “identify the type of official ministry that can be conferred on women, considering the central role they play today in the Amazon Church.”

The German bishops’ official website recently floated the idea of women preaching homilies at Mass.

Doing so would be “about giving women a more important role at the celebration of the Eucharist,” a Benedictine monk, Father Nikodemus Schnabel, wrote in an article they published.

“The urgent question poses itself to me as to why it is necessary that a clergyman has to deliver the homily at the celebration of the liturgy?” commented Schnabel.

During the two synods on the family, the German bishops were one of the primary forces pushing for official approval for Communion for those in what the Church teaches are adulterous unions. The culmination of those synods was Amoris Laetitia, the apostolic exhortation that led four cardinals – two of whom are now dead – to ask Pope Francis to officially clarify if it’s aligned with Catholic morality. The pontiff has not answered their formal request, called the dubia.

Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and dubia signer Cardinal Walter Brandmüller have both criticized the Amazon synod’s working document.

“The structure of the text presents a radical u-turn in the hermeneutics of Catholic theology,” the former said.

Brandmüller blasted it for pushing the “abolishment of celibacy” and introducing a path to “female priesthood.”

Homilies from laity a common post-Vatican II liturgical abuse

As Molesky-Poz mentioned in the America article Fr. Martin tweeted, lay preaching at Mass already happens in some places despite the Church’s prohibition on it. This liturgical abuse seems to have begun in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. 

In the Diocese of Rochester, for example, there was an uproar in 2014 when Bishop Salvatore Matano ended the practice, described by a local newspaper as a “custom” from the 1970s that was “praised for its inclusiveness.” Lay preaching is also common at some U.S. university parishes run by left-wing baby boomer priests.

“Let women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted them to speak, but to be subject, as also the law saith. But if they would learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is a shame for a woman to speak in the church,” St. Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 14:34-35. 

As LifeSiteNews’ John-Henry Westen recently noted, the Church followed that command until various interpretations of Vatican II saw women reading the Scriptures at Mass but not the Gospel.

In his 1755 encyclical Allatae Sunt, Pope Benedict XIV wrote:

Pope Gelasius in his ninth letter (chap. 26) to the bishops of Lucania condemned the evil practice which had been introduced of women serving the priest at the celebration of Mass. Since this abuse had spread to the Greeks, Innocent IV strictly forbade it in his letter to the bishop of Tusculum: “Women should not dare to serve at the altar; they should be altogether refused this ministry.” We too have forbidden this practice in the same words in Our oft-repeated constitution Etsi Pastoralis, sect. 6, no. 21.” (Pope Benedict XIV, Encyclical Allatae Sunt, July 26, 1755, n. 29) 

Canon law: Only priests and deacons can preach homilies

Something Fr. Martin didn’t mention – and was quickly pointed out by an observer on Twitter – is that unordained men are also prohibited from preaching during Mass.

“Among the forms of preaching, the homily, which is part of the liturgy itself and is reserved to a priest or deacon, is preeminent; in the homily the mysteries of faith and the norms of Christian life are to be explained from the sacred text during the course of the liturgical year,” says canon 767 of the Code of Canon Law (emphasis added).

“Preaching by the lay faithful may not take place within the Celebration of the Eucharist at the moment reserved for the homily,” the U.S. bishops have reaffirmed in their norms on “lay preaching.” 

The same norms also indicate that lay “preaching” inside a Church or oratory – which would not be taking place during Mass – can occur “if necessity requires it,” such as during a spiritual conference, and the lay person speaking is “orthodox in faith”:

If necessity requires it in certain circumstances or it seems useful in particular cases, the diocesan bishop can admit lay faithful to preach, to offer spiritual conferences or give instructions in churches, oratories or other sacred places within his diocese, when he judges it to be to the spiritual advantage of the faithful.

In order to assist the diocesan bishop in making an appropriate pastoral decision (Interdicasterial Instruction, Ecclesiae de Mysterio, Article 2 §3), the following circumstances and cases are illustrative: the absence or shortage of clergy, particular language requirements, or the demonstrated expertise or experience of the lay faithful concerned.

The lay faithful who are to be admitted to preach in a church or oratory must be orthodox in faith, and well-qualified, both by the witness of their lives as Christians and by a preparation for preaching appropriate to the circumstances (emphasis added). 

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