Women's role in Catholic Church
Madam, – I write on behalf of a group of women who met on Sunday, September 26th to share our thoughts and feelings on the position of women in the Catholic church today. We believe the time has now come for women to share equally in all aspects of the church’s life, in all levels of leadership and in particular in the ordained ministry. Our decision to meet was inspired by Jennifer Sleeman, who called on women to pray in their own homes on September 26th, and to make some form of protest at an exclusively male-dominated church. The Holy Spirit is giving courage to many to speak out against the exclusion of half the human race. The hierarchical church needs to listen to the voice of women and to value their contribution at the heart of church life, and to include the feminine in all its ministries, language and rituals.
A recent picture of 10 male prospective deacons with the archbishop of Dublin caused us dismay. While these men are, no doubt, admirable people, we see an all-male deaconate as another layer of male-only clerics, and this will further alienate women from playing their rightful role. In contrast, a male friend of ours when recently invited into the deaconate replied that he would accept only when his wife was included. We all know of, and can even name, women deacons in the early church who worked with St Paul. Sadly an opportunity missed!
We welcome wholeheartedly the new Association of Catholic Priests, and are delighted to read that “the issue of women’s place in the Catholic Church is a cause of much concern” to them. We value this concern and thank them for it.
We look forward to the day when all God’s people, female and male, will be accepted as equal members in our own church, and when all ministries will be open to all. Yours, etc,