To the Archbishop of Santiago Julián Barrio:
Beloved brother in the Lord
Following the statements made by Christina Moreira in different media, in which she declares with courage and with great apostolic love her status as a female priest, and the subsequent communiqué issued by the Archbishopric of Santiago de Compostela on March 12, 2017, the debate on the priestly ordination of women is reopened strongly. The Association of Galician Christian Women Exeria wants, with this letter, to publicly present some reflections on the situation of women in the Church, and in this specific case, on the access of women to the Ministry of Priestly Orders. In addition to supporting our companion Christina Moreira, we want to express our solidarity and gratitude to her and to the dozens of women from all over the world who responded with faithfulness and courage, with obedient openness, to the call of their priestly vocation.
The women who make up Galician Christian Women Exeria , have celebrated our faith for more than 20 years as women, as Christians and as Galicians, and reflecting in community from this our identity (we remember, in this sense, the documents we have published: We, the women in the Church and gender violence, violence against women).
From our very being we want to express the following:
1. In statements made by Christina Moreira, she presents herself as a priest, ordained for two years, responding to her vocation, which she became aware of a long time ago, at a crucial time in her life. We recognize Christina Moreira as a priest. We know that she received diaconal ordination and priestly ordination and that she presides on Sundays at the celebration of the Eucharist in the Home Novo community in a communitarian and participative way, making the community fall in love with and even become thrilled by the Word of God. In addition, she accompanies this community and numerous people who are not a part of it on their journey of Christian faith.
2. We feel a deep sorrow, accompanied by bitterness and rage, because of the forms and contents of the communiqué issued by the Archbishop of Santiago de Compostela in connection with Christina Moreira's priesthood, a communiqué that reflects the official position of the Catholic hierarchy (and not the opinion of male and female theologians or of many male and female Christians in the Church) with regard to this subject. Supported by theological studies and in the Tradition closest to our elder brother Jesus, the Christ, we want to state that:
a) As the communiqué issued by the Archbishopric of Santiago de Compostela points out, "The Church is a Mystery of communion by the will of the Father, accomplished in the mission of the Son and refreshed by the Action of the Holy Spirit." Both our Father-Mother God and our Master Jesus Christ, as well as the Holy Spirit who envelops everything in His great Love, confirm inclusion as an essential element. Therefore, the necessary inclusion also of women, more than half of humanity and the numerical majority of our Church. It is necessary to bring the Church in contemporary society up to date, just as it was brought up to date in the patriarchal society of the second century in which Ignatius of Antioch lived.
b) “In the New Testament there appear calls that carry with them the entrusting of a mission by Jesus. One of them is the call to the Twelve, with the designation for an essential mission, tasks and meanings that appear differentiated from the totality of Christians." The group of Jesus’ followers was made up of men and women. Jesus always welcomed women, valued them and wanted them, in a Jewish society in which they were second–class subjects. The Samaritan, Martha and Mary, or the Hemorrhose, among many others, confirm the always warm approach of Jesus to women, his fraternal acknowledgment of them. Mary of Magdala is named as the "apostle to the apostles", "the first witness and evangelist of the resurrection of Jesus." As of July of this year, Pope Francis raised her liturgical feast to the level of that of the apostles because she was the first to recognize the risen Jesus and proclaim it to the rest of the disciples (the Twelve!) who initially hesitate and even refuse to believe her word. St. Paul, who ascribes his apostolic character to having seen the resurrected Jesus, also distinguishes another woman, Xunia, as "noted among the apostles, who believed in Christ before I did.” (Rom 16, 7).
c) “Presiding over the sacramental celebration is not therefore a ministry that Christ gave to women." Pope John Paul II himself declares in his apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis that "women cannot be priests because Christ Himself, who instituted the Sacrament, determined that it would be men who would exercise this ministry." In fact, Christ did not give the right to preside over the sacramental celebration to women as he did not give it to men. Christ did not establish celebratory presidencies as we understand them today and, therefore, did not determine that it was men who would exercise it. All of the seven Sacraments now recognized by the Roman Catholic, and Apostolic Church, and with them that of Priestly Ordination, are largely the result of the historical ecclesial journey, the result of the search by many generations of believers enlightened by the Holy Spirit (that is what we wish for) in the building of a community of believers that wants to be faithful to the Spirit of Jesus... They were built historically with a vocation to continue to evolve for greater fidelity to the Spirit.
d) The affirmation of Pope John Paul II that "the Church in no way has the power to confer priestly ordination upon women, and this sentence must be considered as final by all the faithful of the Church" is a daring statement, because not even the Pope himself can know beforehand the mysterious and unpredictable ways of Spirit, capable of always surprising us above our human criteria, so often close-minded and blind. This statement does not take into account that in the first Christian communities, for almost three centuries (three centuries no less!), women played a key role in the proclamation of the Word of the Lord, in the breaking of the bread and wine, in the care of the poor ... If Pope John Paul II "discarded any possibility of discussion within the Church as to the possibility of accepting female priesthood," we say clearly that he was wrong!
As is well recognized in this archbishop’s communiqué, citing Pope John Paul II, "Which does not mean that women are not a fundamental part of a Church, all ministerial by virtue of the sacrament of baptism." We women are not only a fundamental part of the Church. Without us, women, without our inclusion, without our full recognition in equality, the Church has no future. We regret that, in the midst of the 21st century, the men who presently govern the Church continue to regard us as "second class" people, unable to collaborate on an equal footing in the decisions and services of the Church. The reasons used to justify this prohibition are poor and many times have no up-to-date theological foundation, so they do not hold up to the slightest criticism.
We as women today demand a society of equals where women and men have the same rights and opportunities. Society is taking steps to achieve this change. Today women participate at all levels of social representation, scientific and philosophical research, and jobs of any level of qualification. How are we going to accept being told that it is simply because of our condition as women - for the simple reason of gender - that we are not allowed to have access to priestly ordination? That in this society is called "sexism"!
We need to urgently reopen the debate on equality in the Church, and in this debate also talk about the priestly ordination of women. We need to take steps towards a Church in which there is no discrimination, a democratic, fraternal Church, in which women and men form communities of equals, living, committed communities, in which we are able to work in communion, in which all of us have the right to speak, in which each of us contributes with whatever he or she really is. An open, caring, loving, daring, free Church in the style of Jesus. A Church of equals in which women also occupy the spaces of decision, responsibility and ecclesial representation that belong to us by right and by Tradition.
Does not God want equality?
Mr. Archbishop: Do you really think God wants an unequal church?
As the apostle Paul very well put it, "there is neither Jew nor Greek, nor servant nor free, there is no male or female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3: 1, 28)
May it be so for the Glory of God the Father-Mother, Amen.
ASSOCIATION OF GALICIAN CHRISTIAN WOMEN EXERIA
March 25, 2017
In the 670th anniversary of the birth of Catherine of Sienna,
Matron of Europe and doctor of the Church