Spanish priest Fr Pablo d’Ors, a consultant to the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture, yesterday said he was “absolutely” in favour of opening up the priesthood to women.
Speaking in a candid tone that appears to take its cue from the frank debate at the recent Synod of Bishops, Fr d'Ors told Italian daily La Repubblica: "Am I in favour [of the ordination of women]? Absolutely, and I am not the only one. The reasoning which claims that women cannot become priests because Jesus was a man and because he chose only men [as his apostles] is very weak. That is a cultural consideration not a metaphysical one."
Were it not for the fact that Fr D'Ors is one of 30 consultants due to report to a meeting of the Pontifical Council for Culture (PCC) in February, his comments might have little significance. However, the PCC's meeting in the Vatican will be focussed on the role of women in the Catholic Church today.
Senior Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi told The Irish Times yesterday that he could not comment on Fr d'Ors' remarks. He said he did not know the Spanish priest, adding that although Fr d'Ors may indeed have some function to perform for the PCC, he certainly was not speaking on behalf of the Vatican on this occasion.
Saying “the time is now ripe to travel down other roads”, Fr d’Ors also said this “change is necessary” because to deny women the priesthood represents “an unacceptable discrimination”. He said that in preparing his report for the PCC, he had spoken to many women, Christian and non-Christian alike, from various social backgrounds, and that “all but one” were in favour of the ordination of women.
He acknowledged there were many in the church, priests and laity alike, who were opposed to such a move, adding that “new things” always frighten people. However, he argued it would be a “sin” to resist this change because “life is a continual evolution”.
Ordained a priest in 1991, 51-year-old Fr d'Ors is listed on the PCC's website as director of the theatre writing workshop of the University of Madrid. Grandson of Catalan intellectual and art critic Eugenio d'Ors, Fr Pablo is himself a writer. His Trilogy Of Silence, which deals with the contemplative dimension of the human experience, proved a major literary success between 2009 and 2013.
Friends In The Desert
This year he founded the association Friends in the Desert which focuses on the role of meditation and silence in the Christian experience.
Fr d’Ors now works at the Ramon y Cajal hospital for the terminally ill in Madrid.
Asked about the nature of his ministry there, he said: “You accompany a [dying] person by truly listening to what they say, without judging them intellectually and without upping the emotional tension.
“You listen and nothing more, forgetting about yourself, which is the most difficult thing.”
In his interview yesterday, Fr d’Ors also said he had no idea why he had been appointed to the PCC last July, saying with a laugh: “Perhaps he [Pope Francis] asked people, now who is the most marginalised priest in Madrid?”