Monday, November 28, 2022

My Response to Pope Francis’ Interview on Women Priests- Our Dissident Movement of Love Will Continue to Move the Church Towards Equality and Oneness in Christ

 My Response: In this interview, Pope Francis upheld the misogynist teaching that according to the Petrine principle,  only men can act in persona Christi as priests. 

 This toxic teaching affirms the centuries old unequal treatment of women in the Church as less than and subordinate to men. It contradicts our baptismal oneness in Christ in which there is neither male or female.

If Francis could hear the stories of women priests or visit our communities, I wonder if that would expand his vision of a big tent Church in which women serve as ministers of the word and sacrament.

Whether Francis or the hierarchy accept women priests in our lifetimes or not, we will continue to live the inclusion Jesus modeled in communities and ministries where all who come are accepted, loved and invited to celebrate sacraments as equals in Christ. Our dissident dance of love is creating something new and will continue to grow fueled by Spirit energy evolving everywhere!

Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP 

 Women's Ordination Conference:

For Immediate Release: November 28, 2022

In an interview with America Magazine, Pope Francis upheld the Catholic church’s unequal treatment of women by exploiting misogynistic metaphors to dismiss the sincerely discerned vocations of women. When asked what he might say to a woman who serves her church and experiences a call to priesthood, Francis responded with sexist smoke and mirrors theology, which the Women’s Ordination Conference considers an indefensible attempt to obscure women’s capacity to act in persona Christi

To make his point, Francis repeats the phrase: “The church is woman. The church is a spouse. Therefore, the dignity of women is mirrored in this way.” This “spousal metaphor” claims a male-female relationship between Christ and the church: By extension, only men can truly represent Christ, and therefore only men can be priests. The simplistic gendering and sexualization of one’s relationship with God and discipleship are not just a disservice to the Catholic imagination, but a tool of oppression. It is only when women claim their authentic call to priesthood that the spousal metaphor becomes the central ecclesiology of the church.

Just last month, the Vatican’s synod office released an encouraging “Working Document for the Continental Stage” which acknowledged global calls for women’s ordination and a collective longing for women in ministry. Yet today, Francis’ reductive understanding of women’s ministerial gifts rings hollow beyond measure, and discordant with synod reports from around the world. His claim that the exclusion of women from ministerial life is “not a deprivation” reflects a man who does not know the depth of pain that women in his own church carry.  He shows willful ignorance to the treasures that have been lost by denying the sacramental gifts of more than half its members.  

The synod implores the global church to “enlarge the space of your tent,” yet today we read the words of a man who would rather build walls out of bad theology than make room for women as equals in Christ. 


CONTACT: Kate McElwee, Executive Director, Women’s Ordination Conference

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