Vatican Responds to Lectionary Request Women and the Word Postcards Effective

In mid August FutureChurch received an encouraging letter from Fr. Anthony Ward, SM, under-secretary at the Vatican Congregation for Worship and Sacraments. He was responding to our letter of April 13 requesting the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation, Antonio Cañizares Llovera, to follow up on Synod Proposition 16 and encourage a reexamination of lectionary texts. The letter also asked his office to "consider restoring those women whose witness has been diminished or deleted, and increasing the number of lectionary texts about women leaders." The letter was one of sixteen written to bishop-members of the synod council as follow up to our three-year Women and the Word initiative asking to "put women back in the Biblical picture" at last October’s Synod on the Word.

Fr. Ward wrote: This Dicastery thanks you for sharing your spiritual insights and recommendations. Undoubtedly the great women of salvation history whose stories are told in both the Old and New Testaments are a most important part of the Word of God, which the Church ever strives to proclaim in all its fullness. The Congregation assures you that it will take your comments under consideration. May you persevere in faith and in love for Our Lord and his Holy Church, and in continued devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the New Eve. Sincerely, Fr. Anthony Ward, SM

In addition to the letter from the Congregation for Worship, three other synod council members have replied to date. Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil sdb, of Guwahati, India kindly responded via email: "Dear Sr. Christine, Thank you for what you are trying to do for the church of the future. I wish you all success."

As reported in the Spring newsletter Archbishop Mark Coleridge, chair of the International Commission for the preparation of an English-language Lectionary (ICPEL), and Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture also responded positively. Archbishop Coleridge said his committee was instructed to "revise the translation and some of the decisions about the filleting of texts but not the selection of readings," and said: "If the Holy See were to embark upon a revision of the readings at some stage, suggestions such as yours could prove invaluable."

Archbishop Ravasi wrote of his personal interest in the topic stemming from an exegetical commentary he wrote on the Song of Songs in which the figure of the woman is the protagonist: It will, then, be my pleasure to offer my contribution if the appropriate Dicasteries and Offices of the Holy See take into consideration the proposal you are supporting, while at the same time keeping alive my commitment to a further understanding of the authentic biblical language on this so important theme.

When Cardinal Kasper visited the East Coast last April, graduate students at Harvard and Yale asked him about the women in the lectionary issue. Cardinal Kasper is also on the post-synod council and is said to be of the opinion that the deleted biblical women should be reinstated.

Synod Council Gives Summary to Pope

Catholic News Service reports that 13 members of the synod council met at the Vatican June 3-4 to finalize a draft summary of Synod on the Word and choose themes to propose to Pope Benedict XVI for the next world synod: "Using the 55 propositions approved by the bishops at the 2008 synod, council members drew up a text they believed represented the consensus of the synod members. The text will be given to the pope for possible use as the basis of his post-synodal apostolic exhortation, according to a statement released by the Vatican June 18." Pope Benedict may use this report in preparing the exhortation that will probably appear in the Fall. The Pope may or may not address the women in the lectionary issue in his exhortation. Either way, the issue will remain an important one even after the exhortation is published.

Follow Up Postcards Abound

An estimated 2000 paper and electronic postcards have been or will soon be sent to Cardinal Llovera and fifteen other members of the synod council asking them to open the examination of the lectionary as and restore women leaders such as Phoebe (Romans 16), Lois and Eunice (2 Tim1:4,5) and Mary of Magdala (John 20: 11-18) to Lectionary texts from which they have been deleted. Two additional requests include expanding the stories of other biblical women leaders and convening a gender-balanced group of biblical scholars and liturgists to decide which women’s stories, if added to the lectionary, would be most fruitful for prayer, preaching and catechesis. FutureChurch will continue to expand the postcard effort. We are also networking with European contacts to enlist their support for this project.

FOLLOW UP TODAY: Send your paper or electronic postcard to Cardinal Llovera,
and cc: Synod Council members. Visit for more info on the synod project, to send an electronic postcard, order paper postcards and forward an email to your friends.

Focus on FutureChurch

Summer 2009


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