Wednesday, February 23, 2022

My Hopes for Synodal Dialogue with Women Priests by Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP

In 2021, Pope Francis initiated a two-year open dialogue in which he invited Catholics to express their views the hopes, dreams and challenges in living their faith in the 21st century. The Pope said in his homily:“Time to look others in the eye and listen to what they have to say, to build rapport, to be sensitive to the questions of our sisters and brothers, to let ourselves be enriched by the variety of charisms, vocations, and ministries.” 

Since 2002, the Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement has offered the gift of a  new model of  priestly ministry in inclusive communities of equals where all are welcome to celebrate sacraments at an open table. 

In this Synodal dialogue, I hope that Pope Francis listens with an open heart to the voices of Catholics in our faith communities on their lived experiences of partnership in ministry in egalitarian communities. 

Catholicism is at a crossroads on the role of women. While Pope Francis has appointed some women in decision-making roles at the Vatican, he has failed to dialogue with women priests or people in our communities around the world.  The Synod gives an opportunity for such a dialogue to take place. 

We need to raise the following questions:

Will the institutional Church continue to be a top-down hierarchical organization that punishes faithful dissent, and clings to medieval doctrine, practices, and structures that discriminate against women? Will the Church embrace the full equality and moral agency of women in all aspects of their lives and in all ministries- including Ordination? 

The Synodal dialogue can chart a new path forward by affirming the primacy of conscience for all Catholics including women priests who are called to  serve their sisters and brothers in public ministry in the Church. 

The Synod can also lead to meaningful action to begin a healing process from centuries-old toxic misogyny. Pope Francis can remove the unjust penalty of automatic excommunication and the reprehensible designation in Canon law  of the Ordination of women as a grievous crime against the Church. 

My hope that an open dialogue brings a new beginning for a Catholicism rooted in Jesus’ teachings and example of an open table where are called to love tenderly, do justice and walk humbly with God. May we join hearts and hands as companions on the journey

into the depths of Love where we are one.  

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