Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP
104. "Demands that the legitimate rights of women be respected, based on the firm conviction that men and women are equal in dignity, present the Church with profound and challenging questions which cannot be lightly evaded. The reservation of the priesthood to males, as a sign of Christ the Spouse who gives himself in the Eucharist, is not a question open to discussion, but it can prove especially divisive if sacramental power is too closely identified with power in general. It must be remembered that when we speak of sacramental power “we are in the realm of function, not that of dignity or holiness”. The ministerial priesthood is one means employed by Jesus for the service of his people, yet our great dignity derives from baptism, which is accessible to all. The configuration of the priest to Christ the head – namely, as the principal source of grace – does not imply an exaltation which would set him above others. In the Church, functions “do not favour the superiority of some vis-à-vis the others”. Indeed, a woman, Mary, is more important than the bishops. Even when the function of ministerial priesthood is considered “hierarchical”, it must be remembered that “it is totally ordered to the holiness of Christ’s members”. Its key and axis is not power understood as domination, but the power to administer the sacrament of the Eucharist; this is the origin of its authority, which is always a service to God’s people. This presents a great challenge for pastors and theologians, who are in a position to recognize more fully what this entails with regard to the possible role of women in decision-making in different areas of the Church’s life. "
Bridget Mary's Response:
Pope Francis, in his new pastoral exhortation, "Evangelii Gaudium" (The Joy of the Gospel) appears to open the door to women in more decision making roles in the church. Presently, decision making is tied to Ordination. Does Pope Francis intend to change church law and open the top jobs in the Vatican and elsewhere in the church to women? That would be progress, a major step in the right direction.
In Evangelii Gaudium", Pope Francis rightly criticizes economic in justice and global inequality, but fails to recognize the full equality of women in the church as a serious justice issue. Until women are ordained as priests by the institutional church, they will not be partners and equals in the Catholic Church. Jesus chose women as disciples and equals in the Gospel. The Risen Christ appeared first to Mary of Magdala, not to Peter, and called her to be the apostle to the apostles. Therefore, Pope Francis and the hierarchy of the Catholic Church should follow Jesus' example of Gospel equality. For 1200 years, women were ordained in the Catholic Church. Now the church is blessed with women priests who are serving the inclusive faith communities where all are welcome to receive sacraments.
|Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests at June 2013 Ordination in Falls Church, Va.|
|Judy Lee, ARCWP ministers to youth in Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community,|
Ft. Myers, Fl.