Pope Francis earlier this week formally changed the Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law, allowing women to become readers at liturgies, altar servers and distributors of communion.
This has already been going on in Catholic communities in other countries for some years now, but this formalization effectively prevents conservative bishops from disallowing women these roles.
The Vatican said however, that these positions of service were “essentially distinct from the ordained ministry” and should not be viewed as a precursor to women being allowed to become ordained priests.
“The pontiff, therefore, has established that women can accede to these ministries and they are attributed by a liturgical function that institutionalizes them,” they said.
The Pope said that this decision was in accordance with the “needs of the times.”