When Pope Francis was elected I was hopeful that change would happen in the institutional church. He appeared warm and caring and his approach was down-to earth. I appreciated his focus on social justice issues. While Francis has encouraged dialogue and action on behalf of justice for the marginalized in the world, he has not made the connection of justice in the church, specifically gender equality. The full equality of women includes women priests as a justice issue.
What has Pope Francis said or done to engage our Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement? There have been some positive responses in conversations with his advisors but no official dialogue with Francis yet.
Janice Sevre-Duszynska ARCWP and Christina Moreira ARCWP met with a Vatican Monsignor close to Francis in 2016. They had a wonderful conversation about our mission and ministries and requested that Francis lift excommunication and all penalties against us.
On other occasions, Suzanne Thiel RCWP and Juanita Cordero RCWP met with
Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, one of Francis' top advisors, at the Los Angeles Religious Education Conference. He engaged in animated, friendly conversations and reported that he shared their materials about our movement with the pope.
Roman Catholic Women Priests are moving the church toward partnership and inclusivity as we share women's experiences and claim women's power as spiritual equals. On a deep mystical level women priests are beginning a healing process of centuries old deep misogyny in which spiritual power was invested exclusively in men. We are visible reminders that women are equal images of God and therefore, as members of the baptized, can preside at sacramental liturgies.
Whether Pope Francis restores women to the diaconate or not, it is time to engage the entire church in an open dialogue on diverse models of ministry and the full equality of women in a worldwide church. The future of the church is at stake with dwindling vocations and the exodus of young women in the United States and elsewhere who will not support an institution in which they are not treated as equals.
As we follow Spirit's call to be prophets of the future -living full equality now. - we are the change we have hoped for in our church-no matter what ecclesiastical penalties we have endured!
If Pope Francis lifts our excommunication, engages in dialogue, he will affirm primacy of conscience and take a step closer to a church in which women are no longer treated as second -class citizens! There is always hope and i will continue to hopeful.
Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP, www.arcwp.org
|Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP, www.arcwp.org|