Thursday, April 20, 2017

"Is an Empowering Church Possible?" by Abigail Eltzroth ARCWP


Yes.  The empowering church is alive and well.  You can find it living with, among, and through the members of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. (www.arcwp.org)

The sole purpose of this organization is to form and ordain priests, concentrating its efforts to reach out to those who have been marginalized by the Roman Catholic hierarchy.   The movement has embraced and empowered woman, married men, and members of the LGBTQ community.

The women priest movement has grown by leaps and bounds.  Tracing its roots to the seven women who were ordained by male Catholic bishops on a boat on the Danube River in 2002, this movement now boasts more than two hundred fifty priests in ten countries.  

The male leaders of the greater Roman Catholic Church, 1.2 billion strong, treat the women priests as nuisances: slapping us away as buzzing, irritating gnats.  However, the incessant clamor for women’s rights within the Roman Catholic Church has already led to the establishment of a committee to examine opening the diaconate to women and the appointment of women to leadership positions which had previously been reserved to the all male clergy.  

These moves in the church, which are mini-baby steps toward full empowerment, are an indication that the persistent and pesky women priests have gotten under the skin of the leadership. 

The leadership will complain that the buzzing and stinging women priests are driving them to distraction.  However, women priests have burrowed in. 

In the short term, we can expect a lot of drama from the all male clergy, a lot of ineffective swipes and slaps.  But the hierarchy will find that the empowerment movement is impossible to remove.

In the long term, the leadership will recognize that the women priests are under its skin.  Women priests will make a memorable impression on the hierarchy.   The leadership will eventually reach a deep understanding of the important roles that all the baptized can preform in the church.  As a result, there will be profound changes in the theological understanding of what it means to be human.   

I envision a day when the hierarchy will grow to appreciate the women priest movement.  One day the church will proclaim that the women priest movement has had a strong positive effect upon the church.  

The woman priest movement is here to lead the church to that day.  The woman priest movement is the catalyst to the formation of an empowering church.

≈ Posted a week before my ordination as a Roman Catholic woman priest.

Abigail Eltzroth ARCWP

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