Source: a woman in the church | catholic dialogue
The Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome can be baffling. I remember priest after priest trying to share the historical story and significance of St. John Lateran. It is the cathedral of Rome, the “home church” of the pope as Bishop of Rome, and considered to be the “the mother and mistress of all churches of Rome and the world”. (Here is more information on it’s history.)
When I began travelling to Rome for the Marianist Family, I visited the Basilica regularly. It was within walking distance of where we were meeting. Sometimes the feast day took place during our meetings, so it took on a new significance for me.
I have a love-hate relationship with our grand churches. Their beauty and majesty can both inspire and lift my spirits. Knowing their darker history saddens my heart. The “in your face” monuments to a patriarchal leadership deflate my hopes of gender equality in our church.
While each church has a story, we weave our own stories when we visit them. Here is my St. John’s Lateran story, from a blog post written four years ago; a woman 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.
Readers of this blog know that I’m a great fan of Pope Francis. His daily homilies and messages continue to raise my hopes and warm my heart. His simplicity, warmth and compassion are being embraced by many around the world. I was disappointed, though, by his comments to the International Union of Superior Generals (UISG) in Rome on May 8.
The fact that he had a private audience with this global leadership group of women was reason to celebrate, since previous popes had not done so. Many hoped to hear his message on the role of women in the church. Sadly, he seemed to reiterate the sentimentalized view of women voiced by both John Paul II and Benedict XVI.
I wrote a column for the Prairie Messenger last week reflecting on this comment made by Pope Francis to the women religious.
“What would the church be without you?” A church without them, he said, “would be missing maternity, affection, tenderness.”
It’s time we moved beyond the belief that maternity, affection and tenderness is the sole domain of women. Here is the article .