Pope formally establishes ministries of Lector and Acolyte for women

Pope formally establishes ministries of Lector and Acolyte for women

Casa Santa Marta 4/2/2020 - Vatican Media

Casa Santa Marta 4/2/2020 – Vatican Media

Source: Vatican News

Pope Francis has changed the Code of Canon Law to make official what is already allowed in practice: lay women reading and serving at Mass.

With a Motu proprio released on Monday, Pope Francis states that from now on, the Ministries of Lector and Acolyte are to be open to women, in a stable and institutionalized form through a specific mandate.

There is nothing new about women proclaiming the Word of God during liturgical celebrations, being altar servers or Eucharistic ministers. In many communities throughout the world these practices have already been authorized by local bishops.

But until now, this practice has occurred without a true and proper institutional mandate. In 1972, when Pope St Paul VI abolished the so-called ‘minor orders’, he maintained that access to the ministries of Lector and Acolyte should be granted only to men, because both were considered to be preparatory to the eventual admission to Holy Orders.

Now, in the wake of the discernment which emerged from the last Synods of Bishops, Pope Francis has formalized and institutionalized the presence of women at the altar.

With the Motu proprio ‘Spiritus Domini’ which modifies the first paragraph of Canon 230 of the Code of Canon Law, Pope Francis, has established that women can have access to these ministries and that this is to be recognized through a liturgical act formally instituting them as such.

Pope Francis specifies that he wants to welcome recommendations which have emerged from various synodal assemblies, writing that “a doctrinal development has been arrived at in these last years that has brought to light how certain ministries instituted by the Church have as their basis the common condition of being baptized and the royal priesthood received in the Sacrament of Baptism.”

The Pope invites us to recognize that what is under discussion are lay ministries “fundamentally distinct from the ordained ministry that is received through the Sacrament of Holy Orders.”

The new formulation of the Canon reads: “Lay persons who possess the age and qualifications established by decree of the conference of bishops can be admitted on a stable basis through the prescribed liturgical rite to the ministries of Lector and Acolyte.” The specification ‘lay men’ qualifying the laity and present in the Code until today’s modification, is, therefore, abolished.

The Motu proprio is accompanied by a letter addressed to the Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, in which Pope Francis explains the theological motivations behind his decision.

The Pope writes that “within the spectrum of renewal traced out by the Second Vatican Council, the urgency is being ever more felt today to rediscover the co-responsibility of all of the baptized in the Church, and the mission of the laity in a particular way.”

Citing the Final Document of the Synod for the Pan-Amazon Region, the Pope observes that “regarding the entire Church, in the variety of situations, it is urgent that ministries for men and women be promoted and conferred… It is the Church made up of baptized men and women that we must consolidate, promoting forms of ministry and, above all, an awareness of baptismal dignity.”

In his letter to the Cardinal, after recalling the words of Saint John Paul II that “regarding ordained ministries, the Church does not have the faculty in any way to confer priestly ordination on women,” Pope Francis adds that “regarding non-ordained ministries, it is possible, and today it seems appropriate, to surmount this reservation.”

The Pope explains that “to offer to lay persons of both sexes the possibility of accessing the ministries of Acolyte and Lector, in virtue of their participation in the priesthood of the baptized, the awareness will grow, through a liturgical act (of institution) as well, of the precious contribution that many lay persons, including women, have been offering for some time to the life and mission of the Church.” He concludes that “the decision to confer these offices even on women, which entails stability, public recognition and a mandate on the part of the bishop, will make more effective everyone’s participation in the work of evangelization.”

Role of our Churches – Message from Bishop John Sherrington

Message from Bishop John Sherrington  Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster

Some parishes are receiving letters from the local boroughs which express concern about the opening of churches for communal worship. Some people, including parishioners and those who have visited our churches because they are open, have also expressed both surprise and concern.

On behalf of the Cardinal, I am sending you a letter which may be used to explain the position of the Diocese at this time. It is entitled ‘The current position and role of our churches in this phase of the pandemic’. The letter distinguishes between the principle of churches being open and the prudential judgement about the hours of opening and the frequency of communal worship.

Please be assured of prayers at this time.

With every good wish


Click here for statement 210108 Role of Churches

National Lockdown from 5 January 2021

Following the PM announcement on 4/1/2021  the church is still open for collective worship according to the government guidance below.

Mass will be at 10am as usual. It will continue to be live streamed at

There continues to be no obligation to attend Sunday Mass.

Bishop John Sherrington wrote to the Priests of the Diocese:
I know that some of you have been asked to self-isolate, that others have the virus, and that there is an anxiety among many people about the safety of older vulnerable people. We have worked hard to ensure that churches are COVID-19 secure and have achieved this through the hard work of cleaning, stewarding and organisation by priests and laity. For this reason, there is no prohibition on churches opening and the government permits communal worship to continue. They have recognised that we are essential for the well-being of many people. 

Every Church has its own challenges to provide a safe environment for the priest and the people. The removal of the Sunday obligation has meant that nobody should feel guilty if they do not attend Mass and we need to reinforce this message, as well as ensure the safety of all who attend, especially the more vulnerable, which can include the priest. In particular circumstances in a parish, it may be necessary to reduce the number of public Masses or reduce other communal prayers, or even for a time only celebrate streamed or private Masses, and this is your local decision. 

Please ask people to pray at home for the end of the spread of the virus and the distribution of the vaccine. Please also pray for those clergy who have tested positive at this time. 

Strict social distancing measures of 2 metres apart will be put in place today (previously 1m+) which will limit the number who can come to Mass further and there is to be no social contact between parishioners in the church or in the car park according to the government rules which will be enacted by law on Wednesday.
If you have received a letter in the past from the government saying that you are clinically vulnerable and should shield then the guidelines are below.

Please do whatever you think is most safe for you. Do not put yourself or others at risk. The government’s message begins and ends with 

National lockdown: stay at home

You must stay at home. This is the single most important action we can all take to protect the NHS and save lives.

You must not leave your home unless necessary.

Stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household or bubble.

Helping Herts Homeless

Click below for the latest newsletter

HHH Newsletter Autumn 2020

The next Annual General Meeting of Helping Herts Homeless will be taking place on Sunday 24th January 2021 at 3:00pm. Due to the restrictions currently in place, the meeting will be held over Zoom this year, with details to be provided in January.

Statement on Safeguarding from the Bishops’ Conference and the Cardinal

Statements from the Bishops’ Conference and the Cardinal

Video from Cardinal Vincent Nichols

The Catholic Church in England and Wales welcomes the Report from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse relating to the institutional response of the Church in its duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation.

We thank the IICSA Panel for their work. The Report will now inform the ongoing reform and improvement of safeguarding in all aspects of the Church’s life.

An important aspect of the Inquiry’s work was the voice given to victims and survivors of abuse, including the accounts which they gave of their subsequent engagement with the Church. Listening attentively to their witness testimony has brought into sharp relief the extent of the damage this sexual abuse has had on their lives.

We apologise to all victims and survivors who have not been properly listened to, or properly supported by us. By listening with humility to those who have suffered, we can contribute to the healing of the wounds of abuse, as well as learn from those most directly affected how we must improve the Church’s safeguarding standards, policies and procedures.

This is an ongoing task and one to which we are wholly committed. Child sexual abuse is a crime. It is a crime that requires committed vigilance and strict procedures to ensure reporting to the statutory authorities. This is the Church’s policy. It is also why our safeguarding work needs to be continually reviewed and improved. Where there have been failings and inconsistency in the application of our safeguarding procedures, we acknowledge these and commit to actions which will bring about improvement.

Abuse is an evil act against the most vulnerable; it must never be excused or covered up. Abuse committed against children and the consequent damage to people’s lives cannot be undone. For this, we apologise without reservation, and we are committed to listen attentively to the voices of those who have been abused.

This report is an important moment in our safeguarding journey in the Catholic Church in our countries. It will now be considered in detail by us, the Bishops, at our Plenary Assembly beginning next week so we can explore how to integrate the findings of this important Inquiry into the life and work of the Church in order to consistently safeguard children and the vulnerable.

Vincent Cardinal Nichols

Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP

Coming back to Mass for the first time

Coming back to Mass

(for those for who have not been into the church since March)

Welcome back to the church of Our Lady Immaculate and St Andrew

Public Mass began again on 2nd December (Fr Michael Lambert’s anniversary) and once again we are allowed to come back to celebrate Mass as a community in our church. There is no Sunday obligation and you are encouraged to come Monday – Saturday and leave Sundays for families who cannot come to Mass during the week. So far we have not had to turn anyone away and we are hoping to introduce more Masses on Sundays soon.

The church is open from 9.30am for private prayer and the Mass begins at 10am.

Mass will continue to be livestreamed at 10am. You can access it at

There is no heating in the church so you are encouraged to dress warmly at the current time.

Every Mass is the same with recorded music including hymns, psalm and gospel accalamation, one reading and a gospel. The mass lasts about 30 minutes. There is no congregational singing permitted

You need to wear masks (not children under age of 11) and when you arrive you either use the QR code and the NHS app to sign in for track and trace or you give your details to the stewards and then they will show you to a pew. Please use the alcohol gel before you enter the church and when you come out of it and follow the entrance and exit signs.

If you want to give an offering (unless you make offerings by standing order already) or you have a planned giving envelope you leave it in the basket on the table as you come into the church.

You sit in a half pew together as a household. Two households cannot sit in the same half pew. The kneelers are taped up so that we do not have to clean them.

At communion you remain in your pew and the Eucharistic ministers come to you to give you communion – you come to the end of your pew and reach out your hands and the minister will drop the Body of Christ into your hand. Then you remove your mask and consume the host.

At the end of Mass you wait til the steward directs you to leave.

Unfortunately no socialising with other people is permitted at the end of Mass in the church or porch. If people want to speak to others they must wait until they are outside of the church to do so.

At present the church will no longer be open for private prayer outside of Mass routinely. If you want to come into the church please check if there is anyone in the pastoral office or parish office at the back of the church (through the gap in the wall of the car park) and they will open the church for you.

The church is sanitised daily and as you will see we maintain strict social distancing at all times. Thank you for your help and co-operation in making this work and keeping us all safe during this time of pandemic.

God bless you

The Pastoral Team