Women feel like they do not count

— To be Christ we have to follow His Way, not have his male body


Supporters of the Women’s Ordination Conference demonstrate to advocate and pray for the ordination of women as deacons, priests, and bishops into an inclusive and accountable Roman Catholic Church, near the Vatican in Rome on Oct. 6, 2023.

By Virginia Saldanha

The publication of Pope Francis’ interview with CBS Television anchor Norah O’Donnell has sent shock waves through reform-minded women and men throughout the world.

When asked specifically about women deacons in the Church, Francis said, “If it is deacons with Holy Orders, No. But women have always had, I would say, the function of deaconesses without being deacons, right? Women are of great service as women, not as ministers… within the Holy Orders.”

The pope’s response is reminiscent of the caste mindset in India. Dalits or former untouchable people cannot enter temples because they are Dalits! Women doing ministry cannot be ordained ministers because they are women.

Women are shocked firstly, because the synodal process which Pope Francis himself initiated to gather voices from every person in the Church, has not yet concluded, and yet he gives a definitive answer to the question of ordination of women deacons in the Church.

“What is the point of synodality if the pope shuts down a major question in an interview talk show? How banal. Why waste our time with a process that gets settled in a sound bite?” asks noted Jesuit moral theologian, James Kennan.

The US-based Women’s Ordination Conference expressed “great disappointment at Pope Francis’ failure to recognize the depth of women’s vocations and the urgency of affirming their full equality in the Church. For centuries, women have served in the tradition of Phoebe [Rm 16:1]. Women of every generation have experienced and expressed their vocation from God to serve the Church in ordained ministry.”

“Women do all the work but are denied the recognition and authority that is their due”

Astrid Lobo-Gajiwala of Bombay archdiocese said, “What angers me is how the pope continues to trivialize the vocation of women to the priesthood. A vocation is a call from God. By denying women ordained ministry the pope is asserting that God can never issue such a call to women. And the reason? They do not have male body parts.”

“His remarks about women’s ministry are humiliating and typical of a patriarchal mindset. Women do all the work but are denied the recognition and authority that is their due. How can we reconcile his closed mind on this issue with his call to synodality? Women’s role in the Church has been one of the key issues across the world. Why bother with creating a commission to study the issue of women deacons when the outcome is already fixed?” she asked.

Raynah Braganza Passanha of Pune diocese asks, “Why we are waiting for the Church to throw crumbs our way? Expectations always bring disappointment.”

She suggests, “It is time to challenge ourselves to make real what we have been asking for since no one is listening. If we are serious about what we believe is our right, we need to make it happen. Maybe we need to think of moving out of this limited mindset and evolve a model that is inclusive, a Christ-like, Jesus-inspired community.”

Jesus proclaimed his Mission in Luke 4:18, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor, He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives, recovery of sight to the blind and set free the oppressed.”  His ministry involved working with the least, the lost and the oppressed.

Women have been anointed in Baptism and Confirmation with the Spirit of the Lord. Women, as Pope Francis admits render valuable service in the Church, yet the grace of the sacrament of Ordination is withheld from women because we are deemed second class to men. Is subservience our lot in the Church, because Pope Francis feels that women are not worthy of representing Christ?!

“Women with vocations to ministry deserve to be treated on the same basis as their brothers”

It is disheartening that in the 21st century, the Church has failed to recognize women’s equality with men. Something that Jesus had already given to women in his time. This equality was exercised in the early Church.

Women responded with dedication and love following Jesus through the streets of Palestine, ministering to him, mourning at his crucifixion, and the first to meet him at his Resurrection. Yet, the leadership in the Catholic Church in recent centuries has kept women from any leadership and decision-making, claiming that Jesus did not ordain women!

“Women with vocations to ministry deserve to be treated on the same basis as their brothers, and that includes sacramental ordination. If the Church is supposed to be a sacrament of God’s love to the world, the persistence of misogyny in its structures and practices is a scandal and undermines the Church’s witness to the Gospel,” points out Irish theologian Ursula Halligan.

Francis’ response begs the question, what really is ordained priesthood? Theologically men become ‘other Christs,’ but do they really? The sex abuse scandal and its handling have debunked that idea for many across the world, making the institution lose a lot of its credibility.

To be Christ we have to follow His Way, not have his male body!

Ultimately, ordination seems to be all about power. A power that is used over people. Women entering into that space would disrupt that power and even expose its misuse. Is this the real fear?

Complete Article HERE!

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