Clearly, things continue to be difficult for women in the Church! Without much surprise, but not without a certain weariness, it is on the proposals relating to the role of women that the participants in the Synod on the reform of the Church, which has just completed its first stage (1), expressed the most opposition…


It is 2023, women today occupy positions of political, economic and judicial responsibility. But in the Church, evolution remains very slow! It was only in 2021, fifty years after men, that women were recognized as having the possibility of exercising the ministries of readership and acolyte, that is to say reading the Word and service of the altar in the liturgy. As for the Synod, it carefully avoided commenting on women's access to the diaconate, which has nevertheless been possible for lay men since 1964.

Informing yourself with calm, perspective and confidence is more necessary than ever
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1€ the first month

Let us nevertheless give this Synod the merit, and this is no small thing, of having placed in its final report the question of the role of women in the Church at the forefront of the emergencies to be addressed. But we still remain surprised to note that, for some of its members, women's access to the diaconate would be “a source of dangerous anthropological confusion” . What confusion, and what anthropology?

This touches the heart of deep resistance to change. For some, there would be a “feminine nature”, which would not be intended to represent the universal figure of the human being, which would be reserved for men. The woman is different . She is gentle, emotional, generous, sensitive… In short, the woman is not really a man, and that is precisely what reassures men! Never, in the Church, have I heard a leader speak of  masculine specificity”.

An assigned place

But for women, on the other hand, how often do we mention, often even in flattering terms, their own qualities, which generally relate to motherhood, whether women have children or not. Even Pope Francis recently affirmed (2) that “woman is the reflection of the Church, because the Church is feminine, she is wife and mother”It is an often invoked theology to thus associate the feminine, under the reference of the Marian , with the mystical identity of the Church. And opposite, we oppose the Petrine principle, assimilated to ecclesiastical power, to authority, to reason. This theology bears the mark of an anthropology of the past: is woman a mother for the Church before being a believer? Or a believer because she is a mother?

As long as we stick to such an anthropological conception, which assigns women a defined place, things will remain as they are. However, the Synod reaffirms with force and vigor that all the baptized are equal in dignity. Moreover, and this is an important step, for the first time, the pope has appointed seventy non-bishop members , including lay people, men and women, to participate with the same right to vote. This is how we can get out of the current impasse.

If we draw our responsibilities in the mission from our baptism, then there is no room for a sacral power of certain people (the clerics), based on an outdated anthropology. The Church is the place of “all together” , to use another emphasis of Pope Francis. A Church organized around baptismal equality? More than adaptations aimed at allowing this or that function for women, this calls for a real revolution. Which is none other than that operated by the Gospel – “There is neither male nor female” , said Paul (Galatians 3, 27-28), already… 2,000 years ago!”