Pope says women can read at Mass, but still can’t be priests

ROME (AP) — Pope Francis changed church law Monday to explicitly allow women to do more things during Mass, granting them access to the most sacred place on the altar, while continuing to affirm that they cannot be priests.

Francis amended the law to formalize and institutionalize what is common practice in many parts of the world: Women can be installed as lectors, to read Scripture, and serve on the altar as eucharistic ministers. Previously, such roles were officially reserved to men even though exceptions were made.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the fallout of the storming of the Capitol by a mob of pro-Trump loyalists (all times local): 2:55 p.m. Democrats say the House will consider the impeachment of President Donald Trump on Wednesday, one week after an angry mob of his supporters invaded the Capitol. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told Democrats on a call Monday that members should plan to return to Washington on Tuesday evening to consider a House resolution calling on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke constitutional authority to remove Trump from office. That resolution is expected to pass, but Pence is unlikely to act. ADVERTISEMENT Hoyer says the House will then consider impeachment on Wednesday. House Democrats have moved quickly to draft an article of impeachment charging Trump with incitement of insurrection because he egged on thousands of his supporters ahead of the riots by falsely telling them that the election was stolen from him. One of the Democratic sponsors of the article, Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline, says they have the votes to pass it. ___ HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE FALLOUT FROM THE RIOTING AT THE CAPITOL: Read more: — Republicans block measure calling for quick removal of Trump — Analysis: A GOP reckoning after turning blind eye to Trump — First lady ‘disappointed’ by Trump supporters’ Capitol riot — Capitol assault a more sinister attack than first appeared — A theater of propaganda: The Capitol, cameras and selfies ___ HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON: 2:45 p.m. The agency overseeing security at the U.S. House has a new leader. Timothy Blodgett, the deputy sergeant-at-arms for the House, has been sworn in to replace Paul Irving, who resigned following last week’s riot at the Capitol. Blodgett is one of three acting officials now leading security in and around the Capitol in the wake of the violent siege that resulted in five deaths, including a Capitol police officer. ADVERTISEMENT Jennifer Hemingway, the deputy sergeant-at-arms for the Senate, is acting sergeant-at-arms for the upper chamber, replacing Michael Stenger. And Assistant Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman has been named acting chief, after former Chief Steven Sund resigned. Pittman, a 20-year veteran, is the first African American woman to lead Capitol police. The department is facing intense scrutiny after its lackluster response to the riot, poor planning and failure to anticipate the seriousness of the threat drew widespread condemnation. ___ 2:40 p.m. Former House Speaker John Boehner says President Donald Trump should “consider resigning his post.” The Republican former Ohio congressman began his remarks during a webinar on health care policy Monday by talking about Trump’s baseless claims of widespread election fraud and last week’s siege of the Capitol by pro-Trump insurrectionists. “Here’s the president of the United States, in my view, inciting a riot … and the Capitol being threatened,” Boehner said. “It’s time for Donald Trump to consider resigning his post. He has violated his oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Boehner was speaker from 2011 to 2015, and he has largely steered clear of publicly commenting on Trump. But on Monday he said Trump “has abused the loyalty of the people who voted for him.” Boehner also took aim at Republicans in Congress who echoed Trump’s “noise” about election fraud claims, despite courts and and election officials repeatedly saying there was no such evidence presented. “Shame on them,” Boehner said. “Leaders lead.” ___ 2:30 p.m. President-elect Joe Biden says he has spoken to Senate leaders about splitting time between approving his key Cabinet nominations and proceeding with a possible impeachment trial against President Donald Trump. The House is preparing articles of impeachment against Trump for the second time in a little over a year. This time, it’s for helping incite last week’s violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. But Trump leaves office Jan. 20 and the Senate likely won’t reconvene until next week, raising concerns among congressional Democrats that the impeachment trial could overshadow the start of Biden’s presidency and confirmation of his choices for key administration posts. After receiving his second coronavirus vaccination shot on Monday in Delaware, Biden downplayed such concerns, however, and suggested that the Senate could do both. The president-elect said he’d spoken to Senate leaders about splitting the chamber’s time and “go a half day on dealing with impeachment, a half day on getting my people nominated and confirmed in the Senate.” Biden said such an arrangement also would allow the Senate to work on another major pandemic response bill that would include more economic aid for Americans struggling because of the virus. ___ 1:35 p.m. Democratic Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey says she has tested positive for COVID-19 and believes she was exposed during protective isolation in the U.S. Capitol building as a result of Wednesday’s rioting. She was among dozens of lawmakers whisked to a secure location when pro-Donald Trump insurrectionists stormed the Capitol. A press release from her office on Monday notes that “a number of members within the space ignored instructions to wear masks.” Watson Coleman is isolating at home and awaiting the results of another test. She says, “While I am experiencing mild, cold-like symptoms, I remain in good spirits and will continue to work on behalf of my constituents.” Watson Coleman had received the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID19 vaccine, which has been made available to members of Congress. Some members of Congress huddled for hours in the large room, while others were there for a shorter period. ___ 1:30 p.m. The head of the National Guard says at least 10,000 troops will be deployed in Washington, D.C., by Saturday, and an additional 5,000 could be requested from other states. There are currently 6,200 Guard members in the city from D.C. and five nearby states. The increase in requests for Guard members on Monday comes as officials brace for more, possibly violent protests surrounding the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, told reporters that he has authorization to bring in up to 15,000 Guard members. He said the number of deployments is changing by the hour and day, based on requests from the Secret Service, the Park Police and the Capitol Police. There have been repeated questions about why Guard members weren’t brought in more quickly as the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol unfolded on Wednesday. Guard officials have said they responded as quickly as they could as the situation spiraled out of control but said the Capitol Police repeatedly turned down offers for help in the days before the protests. ___ 12:25 p.m. The National Park Service is shutting down public access to the Washington Monument until Jan. 24, citing threats surrounding Joe Biden’s inauguration. The agency said Monday that it was implementing the temporary closure “in response to credible threats to visitors and park resources.” Park officials say that groups involved in last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol are continuing to “threaten to disrupt” Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20. As a result, officials are shutting down tours at the Washington Monument beginning Monday, running through Jan. 24. They say they may also institute some temporary closures to roads, parking areas and restrooms on the National Mall and could extend the closures “if the conditions persist.” ___ 11:45 a.m. Assistant Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman has been named acting chief, after the department’s former leader resigned in the wake of the deadly siege at the Capitol. Pittman, a 20-year veteran, is the first African American woman to lead the department. She joined the department in 2001 and has served as captain, deputy chief and bureau commander. Steven Sund announced his resignation as police chief on Thursday, following the violent riot Wednesday that left five people dead, including a Capitol police officer. The department’s lackluster response to the riot, poor planning and failure to anticipate the seriousness of the threat have drawn condemnation from lawmakers. In addition to Sund, the Sergeants at Arms of both the House and Senate also resigned. The FBI is also investigating whether some of the rioters had plans to kidnap members of Congress and hold them hostage.

Francis said he was making the change to increase recognition of the “precious contribution” women make in the church, while emphasizing that all baptized Catholics have a role to play in the church’s mission.

But he also noted that doing so further makes a distinction between “ordained” ministries such as the priesthood and diaconate, and ministries open to qualified laity. The Vatican reserves the priesthood for men.

The change comes as Francis remains under pressure to allow women to be deacons — ministers who perform many of the same functions as priests, such as presiding at weddings, baptisms and funerals. Currently, the ministry is reserved for men even though historians say the ministry was performed by women in the early church.

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Francis has created a second commission of experts to study whether women could be deacons, after a first one reported on the history of women deacons in the early church.

Advocates for expanding the diaconate to include women say doing so would give women greater say in the ministry and governance of the church, while also helping address priest shortages in several parts of the world.

Opponents say allowing it would become a slippery slope toward ordaining women to the priesthood.

Phyllis Zagano, who was a member of the pope’s first study commission, called the changes important given they represent the first time the Vatican has explicitly and through canon law allowed women access to the altar. She said it was a necessary first step before any official consideration of the diaconate for women.

“This is the first codification of allowing women inside the sanctuary,” said Zagano. “That’s a very big deal.”

Noting that bishops have long called for such a move, she said it opens the door to further progress. “You can’t be ordained as deacons unless you’re installed as lectors or acolytes,” said Zagano, an adjunct professor of religion at Hofstra University.

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Lucetta Scaraffia, the former editor of the Vatican’s women magazine, however, called the new changes a “double trap.” She said they merely formalize what is current practice, including at papal Masses, while also making clear that the diaconate is an “ordained” ministry reserved for men.

“This closes the door on the diaconate for women,” she said in a phone interview, calling the change “a step backward” for women.

___

This version corrects to say that women can read Scripture, not Gospel.

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News Talk Florida Staff