does pope francis give hope for women in the church?

Many Catholics yearn for a more inclusive and effective role for women in the Church. I am one of the many. For some, ordination is the holy grail of women’s rights in the church. Until this is attained, they believe, we have not achieved full equality or dignity. It’s all or nothing.

Sometimes this desire can blind us to the need for deeper reform, beginning with the concept of priesthood itself. For example, Pope Francis saddened many by reiterating the belief (promoted by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI) that the issue of women’s ordination is closed forever. I was saddened, too. What happened to all the great hope for reform?

I believe that reform will still come; especially for women in the church. This might mean putting the fight for women’s ordination on the back burner for awhile. Francis has some pretty big ideas in mind, namely the dismantling of the current clericalism and careerism that has burdened the people of God for too long. This is the good news.

My latest article in the Prairie Messenger explores some of the hope-filled messages found in the recent interviews with Pope Francis.

7 thoughts on “does pope francis give hope for women in the church?

  1. As Catholic author and thinker James Carroll stated in an address to Call to Action during the late 1990s, if reform can come to eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, it can come to the Roman Catholic Church… hoping for all justice and wisdom as the process unfolds with all appropriate speed. Cheers!

    • Thanks so much for this, Kurt…and the link too. Interesting reading for sure! Makes you wonder about what the appropriate speed is. Is slow and steady better, or a quick revolutionary over-throw and over-haul. If we look at history, revolutions comes with their own set of problems if a strong, collaborative and inclusive leadership doesn’t replace the former dictatorship. In the case of our church, we already have a strong and vocal laity who are well-formed and willing to work together for the good of the church. Here’s hoping it comes to be….

  2. Enjoyed your latest article in the PM Isabella…always do! Yes, we do need a much healthier priesthood and what is most needed to achieve it is proper leadership training in the seminary. The most effective leaders know that they must develop other leaders around them. You don’t have to be ordained, man or woman, to lead in the church…you are a good example of that! We all share in the baptismal call to be prophet, and priest! Our church will grow like never before when all the baptized respond joyfully, and with zeal, to this call. What is most needed from our clergy in their leadership is to equip and inspire us to do so. May God bless you for your courage and commitment.

    • A big and hearty AMEN! to all, Dan!!! It’s so true that seminary formation is vital. We keep hearing about a new breed of “old style” priests being ordained. The last thing we need is a fresh batch of “Father knows best” clerics.

      Your description of what is needed in leadership is spot on!!! Thanks so much. BTW….you’re a perfect example of strong, lay leadership in the church. 🙂

  3. There are two elements to priesthood. Charism, from the Holy Spirit and Office, from the Church. Priestly charism came long before the Church took on any form of structure and office.

    In the first century CE presiders at house church celebrations of what now constitute the Sacraments were chosen by the members in response to promptings from the Holy Spirit. Both women and men presided.

    In the 3rd century the church modeled itself after the Roman Empire and it’s top down structure of rank and privilege, which has continued in the church today; fifteen centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire.

    It is my hope and belief that Pope Francis, rather than see a continuation of long centuries of priesthood restricted to those with Church Office, would like to see the priesthood returned to its basis in priestly charisms.

    This is not to say that there are not many fine priests today who possess both charism and office; but to fully recognize the vast number of people, both men and women, who, by present church regulations, are not allowed to openly exercise the priestly charisms they received from the Holy Spirit and which are validated by the community in which they worship.

    I believe simply admitting women to priestly ordination and office in the present structure might be fairer than the present situation, but could serve to delay the more fundamental return to a priesthood based on charisms and not centered on Office.

    Some of my women’s ordination friends disagree with this position. I still think women’s ordination into the current structure, is at best a short term fix.

    • So many good points, Jerry. A priesthood based on charisms and not centered on Office…exactly! We’ve given ordination exclusive rights to leadership for too long, in both temporal and spiritual matters. Thanks for this!

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