I think we were all heartened by the news of new sanctions on “women’s ordination” in the Vatican’s newly revised canon law. We have no way of knowing whether Pope Francis shares our revulsion for those posing as liturgical ladies, but it’s comforting to know that “going to the peripheries” has its limits. Of course, the revision also authorizes female altar servers, liturgical readers, and eucharistic ministers, confirming a long-standing liberalization. But to those uncomfortable with such official roles for women at Mass, I would ask: What are women supposed do at church, besides sit in the pews?
It’s not an easy question—at least not to modern Catholics, who have no memory of women’s traditional roles in the parish.
I guarantee: good Catholic laywomen are waiting in the wings to play an active role in their parishes. They’re not called to the consecrated life. Many are married with kids. They don’t care to take on these pretend-priest roles like Eucharistic ministers. But they want to help, to draw near to the center of their faith. Aside from putting on an alb, what are women to do?