Pope Francis confers the ministries of reader and catechist on lay women and men

Vatican City – Highlighting the importance of the Bible in the life of faith and the role of lay women and men in sharing the Gospel, Pope Francis officially installed eight men and women in the ministry of reader and eight others in the ministry of catechist.

During Mass on Jan. 23, the church’s Sunday celebration of the Word of God, the pope used a revised rite for the formal installation of readers, a ministry he opened up to women a year later. early, and the new rite for the ministry of catechist, which he created in May.

In most countries, women and men have long served as readers and catechists and have even been commissioned for these roles. But those who are officially installed in ministries are recognized as having a specific calling for leadership in their communities and will serve in what the church defines as a “stable” manner.

Francis installed six women – from South Korea, Pakistan, Ghana and Italy – and two Italian men in the ministry of readers, telling them that they put themselves “at the service of faith, which is rooted in the word of God”. “

As they knelt on the marble floor in front of the main altar, Francis prayed over them and said to them: “You will proclaim this word in the liturgical assembly, instruct children and adults in the faith and prepare them to receive the sacraments worthily. You will bring the message of salvation to those who have not yet received it.”

Three women from Spain, Brazil and Ghana and five men from Italy, Peru, Brazil and Poland were installed as catechists, and Francis told them that they were called “to live more intensely the spirit apostolic, like those men and women who helped Paul and the other apostles to spread the Gospel.”

They too knelt before the altar as the pope said, “May your ministry always be rooted in a deep life of prayer, grounded in sound doctrine and animated by genuine apostolic enthusiasm.”

Francis gave each of the readers a Bible and the catechists a crucifix modeled on the crosier crucifix regularly used by Saint Paul VI and Saint John Paul II.

In December, the Vatican published the Latin text of the Rite of the Institution of Catechists and announced that the revised Latin text of the Rite of the Institution of Readers and Acolytes would soon be published. The episcopal conferences will translate the texts into local languages.

In his homily, the Pope said the 16 readers and catechists “are called to the important work of serving the Gospel of Jesus, of announcing it, so that its consolation, its joy and its liberation may reach all.”

But, the pope said, “it is also the mission of each one of us: to be credible messengers, prophets of the word of God in the world.”

For that to happen, he said, Christians must dedicate themselves to reading the Bible, digging “deep into the word that reveals the newness of God and leads us untiringly to love others.”

“Let us put the word of God at the center of the Church’s life and pastoral activity,” he said.

Jesus, through the scriptures, “reveals the face of God as one who cares about our poverty and takes our destiny to heart,” the pope said. “God is not an overlord, distant and lofty, but a Father who follows our every step.”

“It is the ‘good news‘ that Jesus proclaims to everyone’s amazement: God is near, and he wants to care for me and for you, for everyone. He wants to relieve the burdens that weigh you down, warm your winter cold, to brighten up your daily gloom and support your faltering footsteps,” he said.

Faith, prayer and Bible reading, he said, should also inspire Christians to read to others with the same kind of care and consolation.

Throughout the Gospels, the pope said, it is clear that Jesus “did not come to give a set of rules or officiate at a religious ceremony; rather he took to the streets of our world to meet our wounded humanity. , to caress the faces furrowed by suffering, to heal the broken hearts and to free us from the chains that imprison the soul.Thus, he shows us the most pleasing worship to God: the care of our neighbour.

Francis said “rigidity” can be a temptation in the church, giving some people the idea that the stricter they are and the more they follow precise standards, the better Catholic they will be. But, he says, “our God is not like that”.

A spiritual life without concern for others and without working for justice can put a person “in orbit” but it doesn’t affect anyone, he said. “The Word of God became flesh and wants to become flesh in us.”

“Sacred Scripture was not given to us to distract us, to pamper us with an angelic spirituality, he says, but to make us meet others, bringing us closer to their wounds.

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