Bridget Mary's Response: God's love and mercy is present every day in every occasion for all and works through all.. Pope Francis is reflecting a more compassionate response by recognizing the agony that women go through in making this painful decision.
However, if the church would change its teaching on contraception, many abortions could be avoided in the first place.
Pope Francis should ask forgiveness from women for centuries of sexism in the church that has contributed to abuse, violence and poverty of women worldwide. Pope Francis could issue a letter in this Year of Mercy asking for forgiveness for the centuries of patriarchy that have kept women subordinated and chart a new path toward gender equality that would include women priests and leaders in all areas of church ministry and governance. God's liberating love is rising up in our women priests' movement as we struggle against injustice and discrimination toward women in the Catholic Church.
In addition, Pope Francis could broaden this Year of Mercy by offering amends by the hierarchy for the clericalism at the root of the sex abuse crisis. He could announce concrete steps to hold bishops accountable for the decades of cover-up of sexual abuse against children and young adults.
While ,I welcome the lifting of excommunication against the ultra conservative Lefebvrites and the restoring of faculties to their priests, Pope Francis should also lift the excommunication of women priests and our supporters and all in the church who follow their consciences.
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In this Year of Mercy, what Catholics need Pope Francis to do is to share Christ's heart of love for all by creating a more inclusive church where all can follow their consciences without fear of punishment. This will mean changes in church teaching in order to heal the wounds of rejection that all on the margins of the Catholic Church experience. Yes, all the baptized can give and receive mercy and compassion. In an adult church this is a two-way street.
The Spirit of God moves in the people of God and they have spoken out in their struggle against injustice in the institutional church. . Some examples of reforms are obvious and mentioned above- the bans on contraception , divorce and remarriage, gay, lesbian and transgender marriage and women priests.In conclusion, Pope Francis needs to embrace a broader agenda of mutual forgiveness and spiritual transformation that involves structural change and reforms in order to renew the church, I give thanks for Pope Francis in beginning the dialogue to a more compassionate church.
Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP, www.arcwp.org