29 July 2016

Roman Catholic Church elevates Mary Magdalene's day to Feast

At Pope Francis’s request, the annual observance on the Catholic calendar of St. Mary Magdalene has been made a major feast marking women as the first evangelizers. 

Saint Mary Magdalene is the first woman other than the Blessed Virgin whose liturgical celebration has been raised to the rank of a feast, putting her celebrations on par with those of the male apostles.

Jesuit Father James Martin called the change “a recognition, long overdue,” for the woman “who first announced the Resurrection to the apostles.”

“It reminds us of the supreme importance of women in Jesus’s ministry, and in the Church’s ministry today. In fact, between the time she encountered Christ at the tomb and when she proclaimed his Resurrection to them, Mary Magdalene was the Church on earth because only she understood the full meaning of Jesus’s ministry. Any discussion of women in the Church must proceed from that,” he said.

Monsignor James Moroney, a former chief of staff for the U.S. bishops on liturgical matters, said it’s “a wonderful gift” that Pope Francis “raised the celebration of the first witness to the resurrection to the rank of feast.”

Fr Moroney said the move reminds him of Pope Benedict XVI’s reflection on Mary Magdalene in 2006: “A disciple of Christ is one who, in the experience of human weakness, has had the humility to ask for his help, has been healed by him and has set out following closely after him, becoming a witness of the power of his merciful love that is stronger than sin and death,” the emeritus pope wrote.

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