..."He already has a problem with those who want ordination or nothing. But, putting that aside for the moment (which NCR does not do lightly), there are plenty of other stained-glass ceilings in this church that women could break if only he'd let them, starting with the diaconate. While some dismiss this as a consolation prize, others -- especially married women or those for whom a commitment to priesthood would not work -- would embrace the opportunity to minister as a deacon.
There are other changes Francis could make in the governance of the church. For example, Greg Burke, the communications adviser to the Vatican's Secretary of State, speaking Sept. 25 at the annual conference for the Religion Newswriters Association, wondered why a celibate cardinal heads the Pontifical Council for the Family. A layperson, including a laywoman, could hold that position, he said. There are other jobs in the Curia in which women could excel given a chance.
But when the pope speaks in generalizations, and when male journalists (and yes, we know there are women on America's staff) are not keenly aware they must report anything and everything he says about women, then it's hard for women to not shake their heads and say, "They still don't get it." Francis may be getting the message. His parting words to Eugenio Scalfari were a hint that the atheist newspaper editor would be invited back for another talk, and Francis says: "We will also discuss the role of women in the church," a topic the male editor didn't raise. Francis told him, "Remember that the church [la chiesa] is feminine."
If there's room for women at Francis' table, now is the time for him to offer a real chair, with real authority."
Bridget Mary's Response
Unless Pope Francis ordains women as priests and bishops, women will not be equals in our church. The full equality of women in sacramental ministry as well as in institutional jobs is an issue of justice.
Pope Francis could appoint women to head major Vatican offices as cardinals. This would be a step in the right direction! Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP, www.arcwp.org,