Wednesday, February 27, 2019

After Vatican Summit on Sexual Abuse: Path to Full Inclusion of Women and Laity is the Change We Need by Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP

The path toward the full inclusion of women as equals at all levels and an expanded role for the entire people of God in the governance of the Church are important changes the Church should embrace to move forward after the Vatican Summit on the protection of minors from sexual abuse.  

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community celebrates Liturgy in Florida

One of the bright lights advocating structural reform is Dr. Linda Ghisoni, undersecretary for the Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life.  In her keynote address the mother of two challenged Pope Francis and the bishops to drop the pontifical secrecy and to adopt new councils at a diocesan or regional level “that operate in a co-responsible manner with the bishops and religious superiors, supporting them in this task with competence.”

 In his response to Dr. Ghisoni's powerful address, Pope Francis demonstrated that he does not understand the impact of ecclesiastical feminism as a catalyst for the transformation of clericalism that is a root cause of the sexual abuse crisis in the Church. 

 Pope Francis said: "To invite a woman to speak is not to enter the mode of an ecclesiastical feminism, because in the end every feminism ends up being machismo with a skirt," 

 Kate McElwee, executive director of the Women's Ordination Conference wrote In Response to the Summit: "Well, not including women as equals in the Church ends up being misogyny with a mitre. "

 The Roman Catholic Women Priests advocate the full equality of women in a renewed priestly ministry in a community of equals model of Church.  I believe that our inclusive communities offer  a pathway toward healing misogyny because we  minister as equal members of the people of God in living compassion and justice -seeking in our world. As Catholics experience our liturgies, we receive more invitations to preside at baptisms, weddings, annointings of the sick and memorials. Why? The feedback is because they value women's spiritual presence and leadership in egalitarian, welcoming communities and ministries. 

Mary Hunt, a feminist theologian, said in  response to the summit on sexual abuse in the Church: "The institution flames out in paroxysms of clericalism, sexism and homohatred. We women of faith seek not to clean up a mess that is not of our making, but to live a new democratic and egalitarian church open to all. ..There’s solace in the strength of survivors, the savvy of these women speakers, and the solidarity of people around the world. When asked for bread, the Roman Catholic Church can no longer get away with giving a stone (Matthew 7:9). Roma finita est.

 In sum, the Christ Presence shines most brightly when everyone has an equal place at the table of love, compassion and justice-making.  So I rejoice that women priests are here serving survivors of sexual abuse, advocating for reform by living Gospel equality, inclusivity and justice seeking now. 

Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP,

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