(Rome) In the March issue of the women's supplement Donne Chiesa Mondo of the Osservatore Romano the demand for women preaching was levied. If not women priests, then at least women preachers was the slogan.
In the current edition of the Osservatore Romano, a step was taken back. It does not come from some "conservative" side, but from that progressive milieu that dominated the content of the March women's supplement.
Woman's Supplement to the Osservatore Romano creating confusion
The "Prior" of Bose, Enzo Bianchi, whom Msgr. Antonio Livi has called a "false prophet," writes on page 4 that which "may possibly have given rise to confusion" in the March Supplement. It "had no intention to contradict the current discipline".
Bianchi himself was one of the main causes of confusion with his contribution to the March supplement. He named the same "three conditions" for the "lay preaching of men and women". The "conditions" are to be understood not as a limitation, but as a justification of lay preaching.
A month late, Bianchi now offers what ecclesiastical discipline states.
The Code of Canon Law of 1983 (Canon 767.1), the common instruction of eight dicasteries on some questions regarding the participation of the laity in the ministry of priests in 1997, the instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum of 2004, the Homiletic Directorate of 2014 to name the recent rules, affirm an unequivocal ban on lay preaching, as it has always been considered. During the Mass, only a priest, and possibly a deacon, may preach.
Only half a step backward
Does this make things right? Hardly likely. Bianchi was apparently called off by someone. There are rumors circulating that Pope Francis, although Bianchi is neither a priest, nor deacon, nor a monk, but a layman, could raise him in the cardinal's state in Rome.
The step back is therefore only of a tactical nature, as Bianchi himself has hinted in his justification.
"The monthly articles had no intention to contradict the current discipline but dare to ask with great respect, the question of whether it would be possible that the theological search and the rules of the Church might be represented, to allow lay men and women in future positions of trust for this ministry.
The emphasis in the first part of "current", not perpetual discipline. What applies merely to "present," may tomorrow be changed. This is where Bianchi aims lie. What is his goal, even though he is "currently" subject, he says "with great respect", rather bluntly.
As things will continue with the women's supplement, and generally, with the Osservatore Romano, seems to be in limbo. The semi-official daily newspaper of the Pope sells few copies and is therefore constantly in the red.
The newly erected Communications Secretariat by Pope Francis is planning drastic cuts. Currently, Osservatore Romano appears in print in several languages. The cost of such expenditure should be reduced. Work is underway to relocate the emphasis of the online edition. The prefect of the Communication Secretariat, Msgr. Dario Viganò never belonged to the Osservatore Romano which might be of some importance in the shift in emphasis in the reorganization of the means of the Vatican's communication.
The issue of thematic focus is so however not answered.