..."If he embraces his inner Trump, Francis could elevate women without even stepping on the third rail of women’s ordination, by letting them preach the homily at Mass. The obstacle is Canon 767, which says this is the most important form of preaching, and it’s “reserved to a priest or to a deacon.” That, of course, rules out women — and men who have not been ordained.Sadly, the gift of preaching does not always come with ordination. Many Catholics suffer through poorly prepared, woefully delivered sermons by ordained men — sometimes when gifted women well-educated in theology sit in the pews. We know the skills that pastors don’t always have, such as leading people and running budgets. The more enlightened pastors seek out laypeople with skills to make up for the ones pastors lack. So, why not reach out to men and women who have preaching skills, but have not been ordained?
The pope could change Canon 767, taking out the words about reserving the homily at Mass to priests and deacons. In its place, he could add language that imposes on pastors the duty to put preachers in the pulpit who will proclaim the Gospel skillfully and compellingly.
In September, Francis demonstrated he can make words in canon law disappear: He modified two clauses in Canon 838, making clear that the Vatican’s role is not to impose liturgical translations, but to “recognize” translations approved by national bishops’ conferences. This came as hopeful news to Catholics weary of praying with such wooden language as the jarringly Latinate word “consubstantial” in their creed.
If Francis can amend canon law on liturgical translations, he can change it to allow women — and unordained men — to preach the homily at Mass. He could do it now, to change the subject and excite his base, like Trump.
If not now, he should do it soon, just because it’s right.