‘Excuse me, Your Eminence, she has not finished speaking’

— Francis’ opening to women in church management is promising. Getting women into the sacristy is trickier.

Participants of the 16th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops attend a daily session with Pope Francis, not shown, in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, Oct. 16, 2023.

By

Without doubt, the best line to emanate from the Synod on Synoldality is “Excuse me, Your Eminence, she has not finished speaking.”

That sums up the synod and the state of the Catholic Church’s attitude toward change.

In October, hundreds of bishops, joined by lay men and women, priests, deacons, religious sisters and brothers met for nearly a month in Rome for the Synod on Synodality. At its end, the synod released a synthesis report brimming with the hope and the promise that the church would be a more listening church.

Some 54 women voted at the synod. Back home, women are still ignored.

Why?

It is not because women quote the Second Vatican Council at parish council meetings. It is because too many bishops and pastors ignore parish councils.

It is not because women of the world do not write to their pastors and bishops. It is because without large checks, their letters are ignored.

The Synod on Synodality was groundbreaking in part because it was more about learning to listen. It was more about the process than about results. Its aim was to get the whole church on board with a new way of relating, of having “conversations in the Spirit,” where listening and prayer feed discernment and decision-making.

Even now, the project faces roadblocks. At their November meeting this week in Baltimore, U.S. bishops heard presentations by Brownsville, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores, who has led the two-year national synod process so far. His brother bishops did not look interested.

To be fair, some bishops in some dioceses, in the U.S. and other parts of the world, are on board with Pope Francis’ attempt to encourage the church to accept the reforms of Vatican II, to listen to the people of God.

But too many bishops are having none of it.

An individual takes a photo of the 16th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, Oct. 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
An individual takes a photo of the 16th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, Oct. 9, 2023.

The synod recognized the church’s global infection with narcissistic clericalism. It said fine things about women in leadership and the care of other marginalized people. Yet the synod remains a secret in many places. Its good words don’t reach the people in the pews.

Ask about synodality in any parish, and you might hear “Oh, we don’t do that here.” You are equally likely to hear “When I” sermons (“When I was in seminary,” “When I was in another parish”), and not about the Gospel.

Folks who were excited by Francis’ openness and pastoral message just shake their heads.

The women who want to contribute, who want to belong, are more than dispirited. They have had it. And they are no longer walking toward the door — they are running, bringing their husbands, children and checkbooks with them.

In the Diocese of Brooklyn, it was recently discovered that Mass attendance had dropped 40% since 2017. It is the same in too many places. The reason the church is wobbling is not a lack of piety. It is because women are ignored. Their complaints only reach as far as the storied circular file.

What do women complain about? Bad sermons, as discussed. Autocratic pastors. And the big one: pederasty. If truth be told, women do not trust unmarried men with their children. Worldwide, in diocese after diocese, new revelations continue. Still.

Many bishops and pastors understand this. Francis certainly does, but he is constrained by clerics who dig their heels into a past many of them never knew. More and more young (and older) priests pine for the 1950s, when priests wore lace and women knew their place. That imagining does not include synodality.

Will the synod effort work? Francis’ opening to women in church management is promising. Where women are in the chancery, there is more opportunity for women’s voices to be heard. No doubt, a few more women there could help.

Getting women into the sacristy is trickier.

While it seems most synod members agreed about restoring women to the ordained diaconate as a recognition of the baptismal equality of all, some stalwarts argued it was against Tradition. Still others saw the specter of a “Western gender ideology” seeking to confuse the roles of men and women.

So, they asked for a review of the research. Again.

Women know the obvious: Women were ordained as deacons. There will never be complete agreement on the facts of history, anthropology and theology. Women have said this over and over.

If there is absolute evidence that women cannot be restored to the ordained diaconate, it should be presented, and a decision made.

The women have finished speaking about it.

Complete Article HERE!

It’s time to let women be priests

— The Roman Catholic Church needs to reevaluate its stance on female ordination.

St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City

By Sadie Roraback-Meagher

Dressed in purple and wielding lavender banners, dozens of women took to the cobblestone paths lining the Vatican to advocate for female ordination this past October. The organizing group — Women’s Ordination Conference — has become one of the largest organizations calling for the ordination of women and gender equality within the Roman Catholic Church. The WOC’s recent march took place during the Vatican’s Synod on Synodality, a month-long summit where members of the Catholic Church gather to discuss concerns facing the Church. Amongst the issues addressed, women’s role in the church emerged as one of the most contentious topics.

Female ordination has been banned within the Roman Catholic Church for centuries. The 1994 apostolic letter issued by Pope John Paul II further cemented the Church’s strong opposition to women joining the priesthood. Still, the topic has continued to be one of the most criticized stances taken by the Church. Although Pope Francis expressed that there is no “clear and authoritative doctrine” regarding the ordination of women, some members of the Church feel differently.

Proponents of female ordination often assert the fact that all 12 of Jesus’s Apostles were men as justification for prohibiting women from being ordained. Indeed, Jesus and his apostles were men, but this logic seems to blatantly ignore the fact that women also held leadership roles in early Christianity. In Colossians 4:15, Nympha is described as hosting a church in her home, similar to Apphia in Philemon 2. And in Romans 16:1, Paul commends Phoebe for being a deacon of the church in Cenchreae. To assert that women are unqualified to preach solely because of their gender is a myopic reading of the Bible that silences the stories of female biblical figures. Archival evidence further shows that women served as priests and even bishops from the second to sixth centuries, affirming their experience as preachers.

Still, picturing a woman dressed in an alb and chasuble can be difficult for some to imagine. One participant at the recent Synod explained he felt  “violated” by the concept of female priests. The current sentiment regarding female ordination is partly attributed to the Church’s view on gender roles: that there is a clear distinction between men and women. Yet using this as reasoning to prevent female ordination is hypocritical. Under Gaudium et spes, discrimination, including gender discrimination, is called to be eliminated. Preventing women from being ordained because of their gender contradicts the Church’s own teaching.

Certain Catholic women have sought to pursue their dreams of priestly vocations despite the current policies in place. The Roman Catholic woman priest movement, consisting of over 200 women globally, takes part in unauthorized ordination practices to help women become priests. But it comes at significant risk: Women who become ordained can face hostility and be punished with excommunication from the Church.

The Catholic Church should look to embrace female ordination as opposed to fearing it. From a pragmatic standpoint, allowing women to be ordained could help remedy the ongoing priest shortage in the U.S. by filling vacant roles. It has also been consistently proven that having women in leadership roles helps to improve fairness and increase collaboration. As nuns, American women have shown great involvement in forwarding social justice initiatives too. Given that as of 2015, 59% of Catholic Americans believed that women should be allowed to be ordained, there is evident support behind this movement. While the Catholic Church has remained relatively fixed in its stance on female ordination, women in general have seen tremendous strides in autonomy within the past few centuries, from gaining voting rights to serving as CEOs in the workforce. But it’s time for the Catholic Church, an institution grounded in the belief of solidarity, to start demonstrating that virtue toward women.

Complete Article HERE!

As a Queer Catholic Woman I Had High Hopes Before the 2023 Catholic Synod on Synodality

By

When the summit on the future of the Catholic Church began on October 9, I allowed myself for the first time in many years to feel optimistic. I smiled at pictures of Pope Francis welcoming LGBTQ Catholic advocates Sr Jeannine Gramick and Outreach director Fr James Martin, finally feeling that this could be our moment, my moment to find a home in the Church that had raised me. I felt that little sacristy door slightly creak open as I fumbled to dial the phone to call my mom. Was this it? Sadly, no. My excitement faded as I followed the livestream of the Synod of Bishops, punctuated by anger as I read the summit’s 41-page report.

This past Friday I saw New Ways Ministry’s statement, “Synod Report Greatly Disappoints, But We Must Have Hope,” while walking down a busy DC thoroughfare. In it Francis DeBernardo, executive director of the LGBTQ+-affirming Catholic organization, points out how, despite previous documents discussing the welcoming and inclusion of LGBTQ Catholics, there were no positive statements on LGBTQ issues—not even one use of the term “LGBTQ.” Instead, a single paragraph—approved by vote—stated:

“In different ways, people who feel marginalized or excluded from the Church because of their marriage status, identity or sexuality, also ask to be heard and accompanied.”

Once more the door that’s historically been closed to LGBTQ individuals and women was shut in my face. As I had done many times before, I opened myself up to the possibility that Pope Francis’s acknowledgement and inclusion of LGBTQ Catholics would lead to Church action. I had faith in this Synod, just like I did the Synod on Young People in 2018 whose final report also omitted the term “LGBT.”

Each time this happens, many LGBTQ Catholics dare to hope. For example, when the pope said, in 2022, that God “does not disown any of his children,” or in 2023 that “people with homosexual tendencies are children of God,” a number of LGBTQ Catholics and advocates, myself included, got excited for a day or two—maybe even called our parents (if the Church hasn’t driven a wedge between them and us). But then the news cycle passes and, with each expression of anti-LGBTQ Catholic doctrine on diocesan and global levels,  these small victories are tarnished with sadness and frustration.

This is not to say that these moments of recognition don’t matter to me or to so many other LGBTQ Catholics; it’s just to say that it hurts me so much more when these slight openings have no practical impact on my life as a queer Catholic woman.

Jesuit Fr. Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator assured LGBTQ Catholics that “the space is there to continue to have this conversation,” that no issue has been finalized ahead of the next assembly in 2024. “Nothing is closed,” remarked the dean of the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University, who added that the document “attempts to pull together all the divergent positions.” But how can we represent all viewpoints if the document won’t even say my name, say our name—LGBTQ Catholics? So the door is unlocked, but we’re not permitted to open it?

I want to be hopeful, but I, as well as many other Catholics, acknowledge that the changes Francis and other LGBTQ Catholics and allies are pushing for will not be achieved this year. They probably won’t be achieved this century. The door is rusted and rooted—it’s probably going to take more substantial remodeling. The Church moves at a slow pace, and I’m hopeful that these small moments will mean something, perhaps in a few decades or centuries. But at this moment, it feels like it doesn’t. The progress that I, and so many other LGBTQ Catholics dream of realizing, is extraordinarily unlikely to come true while I’m alive. In the end we’re working to open a door we will never walk through.

Complete Article HERE!

Catholic women speak up as ‘patriarchal’ Church debates its future

Supporters of Women’s Ordination Conference (WOC) demonstrate near the Vatican

By Clément MELKI

“Ordain women priests!” Not far from the Vatican, where hundreds of Catholics have gathered to debate the future of the Church, purple-clad activists make their voices heard against the “patriarchy”.

The place of women in the Catholic Church — led for 2,000 years by a man, which outlaws abortion and female priests and does not recognise divorce — is one of the hot topics at the general assembly of the Synod of Bishops taking place over four weeks.

Women campaigning for change have come to Rome to make their case, from Europe and the United States but also South Africa, Australia, Colombia and India.

They have different backgrounds and diverse goals — not all want female priests, with some aiming first for women to become deacons, who can celebrate baptisms, marriages and funerals, although not masses.

But they are united in their frustration at seeing women excluded from key roles in what many view as a “patriarchal and macho” Church.

“The majority of people who support parish life and transmit the faith in families are women, mothers,” said Carmen Chaumet from French campaign group “Comite de la Jupe”, or the Committee of the Skirt.

“It is paradoxical and unfair not to give them their legitimate place.”

“If you go to the Vatican, to a mass, you see hundreds of men priests dressed the same way, and no women,” added Teresa Casillas, a member of Spanish association “Revuelta de Mujeres en la Iglesia”, “The Women’s Revolt in the Church”.

“I feel that men are the owners of God.”

– ‘Voting rights’ –

The Synod assembly, which runs until October 29, nevertheless marks a historic turning point in the Church, with nuns and laywomen allowed to take part for the first time.

Some 54 women — around 15 percent of the total of 365 assembly members — will be able to vote on proposals that will be sent to .

Vatican observers have called it a revolution. “A first step,” say campaigners.

Adeline Fermanian, co-president of the Committee of Skirt, said the pope had given “openings” on the question of ordaining women.

“He recognised that the questions has not been examined sufficiently on a theological level,” she said.

Since his election in 2013, Francis has sought to forge a more open Church, more welcoming to LGBTQ faithful and divorcees, and encouraging inter-faith dialogue.

He has increased the number of women appointed to the Curia, the central government of the Holy See, with some in senior positions.

But some campaigners see the changes as “cosmetic” reforms which hide a biased perception of women.

Cathy Corbitt, an Australian member of the executive board of umbrella group Catholic Women’s Council (CWC), said the inclusion of female voting members in the Synod was a sign of progress.

But she said the wider view of women in the Church was “very frustrating”, much of it taking inspiration from the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus.

“The pope still seems to have this blind spot towards women… He seems to regard women in terms of a role, and it’s usually in terms of a mother,” she said.

– Resistance –

The Synod process is slow — the current meeting in Rome followed a two-year global consultation, and a second general assembly is planned for next year.

Regina Franken-Wendelsorf, a German member of CWC executive board, said women were hoping for concrete action.

“All arguments and requests are on the table. It’s now the Vatican and the Church who have to act!” she said.

While the Church debates, “there are collateral victims, frustration, Catholics who leave because they no longer feel welcomed”, added French campaigner Chaumet.

But just as Pope Francis faces resistance in his reform agenda, there is significant resistance to the women’s push for change.

“Some American bishops are afraid to follow the path of the Anglican Church,” which authorised the ordination of women in 1992, notes one Synod participant, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Another senior Church member, who also asked not to be named, noted that pressure for reform was not equal from all regions of the Church.

“We must not forget that the Church is global,” he recalled. “There are expectations (among women) in Europe, but in Asia and Africa, much less.”

Synod on Synodality: Italian nun claims St. Paul attended ‘non-ritual female liturgy’

Mother Maria Grazia Angelini gave an exegesis of the New Testament for synod delegates during the general congregation on Oct. 13 in which she claimed that St. Paul “inserted himself into a ‘non-ritual’ female liturgy” when he arrived in the city of Philippi in Macedonia.

By Courtney Mares

An Italian religious sister told the Synod on Synodality assembly Friday that St. Paul attended “a non-ritual female liturgy” ahead of synod discussions of women’s inclusion in the Church.

Mother Maria Grazia Angelini gave an exegesis of the New Testament for synod delegates during the general congregation on Oct. 13 in which she claimed that St. Paul “inserted himself into a ‘non-ritual’ female liturgy” when he arrived in the city of Philippi in Macedonia.

Speaking to hundreds of synod participants in Paul VI Hall, Angelini described how “Paul was welcomed by a liturgy outside the ritual, among women, in the open air.”

She said: “The apostle did not start, as was his custom, in the synagogue … He inserted himself into a ‘non-ritual’ female liturgy, breaking into it with the word of the Gospel.”

Angelini’s speech referred to a historical event recorded in chapter 16 of the Acts of the Apostles, which states: “On the sabbath, we went outside the city gate along the river where we thought there would be a place of prayer. We sat and spoke with the women who had gathered there” (Acts 16:13).

The Scripture goes on to describe how one of the women named Lydia listened “and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what Paul was saying” and she was baptized along with her household (Acts 16:14-15). The Biblical text does not make mention of any sort of a liturgy.

The sister’s exegesis of the Acts of the Apostles was part of a larger speech on “the cry of women” throughout the New Testament. She argued that the contribution of women “unceasingly fuels the spiritual dynamism of reform.”

Angelini is one of two “spiritual assistants” who helped to lead the meditations for the retreat and the prayers throughout the Synod assembly this month, along with Father Timothy Radcliffe.

The 79-year-old nun served as the abbess of the Benedictine Monastery of Saints Peter and Paul in Viboldone, Italy, from 1996 to 2019. She studied theology under Giovanni Moioli and has written more than a dozen spiritual books.

She is one of three women who addressed the Synod’s general congregation on Friday at the start of a new module of Synod discussions on “Co-responsibility in Mission: How can we better share gifts and tasks in the service of the Gospel?” which will be discussed by Synod delegates over the next two days.

Sister Gloria Liliana Franco, a Colombian religious of the Company of Mary Our Lady, told Synod delegates the story of a woman who earned better grades than her male classmates at a pontifical university, but “did not receive a canonical title because she is a woman,” adding “because until a few years ago women in their country could not study theology, only religious sciences.”

“Many women have no place in the parish or diocesan council, even though they are the teachers and the catechists,” Franco said.

“From the point of view of the members of many councils, the mission of women is very maternal, basic, and pastoral, while the goals of the councils are, for them, more administrative and strategic,” she added.

Sister Xiskya Valladares, Nicaraguan sister known as“the tweeting nun,” also spoke to the general congregation. Valladares, who has more than 452,000 followers on TikTok and 77,000 followers on Twitter, said in a TikTok video that “there should be no problem in there being women priestesses.” Valladares limited her livestreamed speech to the synod congregation to the subject of evangelization in a digital environment.

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich told the Synod delegates that the morning’s testimonies help to frame the themes and questions that will be discussed and advised delegates that “everyone can revise the speech they had prepared” in light of what was said during the general congregation.

Complete Article HERE!