Here is a story from CNS by my friend in Rome and fellow Minnesotan Mr. John Thavis:
Remember that once upon a time, Holy Church had the minor order of Lector. Paul VI suppressed the minor orders in favor of "ministries" of Lector and Acolyte. These are open only to males. However, an interpretation of the 1983 Code of Canon Law (a mistaken one, I think) allowed that women could substitute for officially installed Acolytes. This introduced a theological confusion into our praxis as a Church, a violation of continuity in our tradition.
Now, we read that not all the discontinuity embracing aging-hippies stayed home when they were invited to the Synod this year:
An opening on women lectors?
Posted on October 25, 2008 by John Thavis
VATICAN CITY — Probably the most newsy — and somewhat unexpected — item in the final propositions of the Synod of Bishops on the Bible was a proposal to allow women to be officially installed in the ministry of lector. [Quod Deus avertat.]
The issue was raised in Proposition 17 on “The ministry of the word and women,” and on Saturday morning it passed with 191 votes in favor, 45 opposed and three abstentions, according to our sources.
“It is hoped that the ministry of lector be opened also to women, so that their role as proclaimers of the word may be recognized in the Christian community,” the proposition states in its final sentence.
What Pope Benedict XVI will do with that proposal is unclear, according to Vatican people I spoke with shortly after the synod vote.
The issue, of course, is not whether women can act as lectors, or Scripture readers, in Catholic liturgies. They already do so all over the world, including at papal Masses.
The question is whether women can be officially installed in such a ministry. Until now, the Vatican has said no: canon law states that only qualified lay men can be “installed on a stable basis in the ministries of lector and acolyte.” At the same time, canon law does allow for “temporary deputation” as lector to both men and women, which is why women routinely appear as lectors.
The reasoning behind church law’s exclusion of women from these official ministries has long been questioned. For centuries, the office of lector was one of the ”minor orders,” generally reserved to seminarians approaching ordination. While seminarians still are installed formally as “acolyte” and then as “lector” before being ordained deacons, since the 1970s service at the altar and proclaiming the readings at Mass have been seen primarily as ministries stemming from baptism and not specifically as steps toward ordination.
“It’s important to emphasize that any proposition for women lectors would simply arive from their baptism and not from any presumptive opening for orders,” said one Vatican source. [I disagree. I think reading in liturgy is tied closely also to Holy Orders, and not just baptism. I wonder if this proposition doesn’t come from a confusion of the two modes of priesthood.]
The synod took up the question because some have suggested that in promoting greater scriptural preparation and presentation, the church designate “ministers of the word.” Lectors were seen as natural candidates.
It’s interesting that this proposal, while passing overwhemlingly, drew the greatest number of “no” votes than any of the other 54 propositions, most of which passed with fewer than five opposing votes.