Women need not be priests to lead church, Francis says in new book

From Joshua J McElwee – National Catholic Reporter…

ROME — Pope Francis has strongly defended his record on naming women to positions of authority at the Vatican, saying in a new book that women do not need to be priests to serve as leaders in the global Catholic Church.

In the volume Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future, being released Dec. 1, the pontiff points especially to his 2016 appointment of Italian Barbara Jatta to lead the Vatican Museums and to several other women he has named as under-secretaries of Vatican departments.


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  1. Eddie+Finnegan says:

    One-and-a-half cheers for Francis on women’s Church leadership. It took a few centuries to elect a few non-Italian popes (pro melius pro peius). How many centuries will it take to appoint a few non-Italian women under-secretaries of Dicasteries for the Laity, the Clergy, the Bishops, Evangelisation of Peoples (Prop. Fide) – or even to run one of the museums or the consistories for cardinal-making?
    Irish women, polish up your CVs and get ready.

  2. Roy Donovan says:

    Does PF come from such a latino masculine dominated culture that he can never really make himself open to equality with women? It seems he really does not get women when you take on board this recent statement –
    “VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis on Wednesday described the COVID-19 pandemic as a tough “lady” taskmaster who must be obeyed, but he and most close aides did not wear masks at his general audience”.

    Anyway priesthood is such a male outdated construct that it seems that most men and women are not interested.

    The question arises more and more – have most women given up on a male dominated church? Anne Soupa puts out that the gap between the Church and society is getting bigger and bigger. The Church is so far behind on women, sexuality, etc.

    Is there anyone in the present Church hierarchy that can match the bravery, the courage, the inspiration and the dignity of Anne Soupa (put herself forward for Archbishop of Lyon) who is so steeped in scriptural studies, inclusiveness, broad theology and a very big God? She also has a husband and four children/grandchildren! Listening to her and reading her writings, she shows up the utter poverty and emptiness of present male leadership in the Church. And we see nothing wrong with excluding people like her?

    Again I am in admiration of the bravery and the courage of Vicky Phelan. She is a great voice for women who are treated as second class citizens. She is so articulate and so good at naming things. If only we had someone like her in the Church who would name things as they are and articulate passion and energy for a better future for all.

  3. Soline Humbert says:

    “With their growing participation in the life of the Church today, many of these women have come to feel an enormous spiritual strain, due to exclusions that persist.Two areas in particular stand out.
    One is decision-making: Doctrinal teachings, laws and ethical mandates are still handed down from a council of men without the participation of women, even when decisions affect women most intimately, in their bodies.
    The other area of tension is sacramental life: The exclusion of women from Eucharistic leadership eats at the heart of their liturgical experience.
    As the theologian Rosemary Radford Ruether put it, women come to the Eucharist hungry for the word of God and the bread of life, and they leave still hungry, even starving. Why? Because they never hear women’s experience interpret the word of God in preaching, and they never see one like themselves enact the sacred ritual.
    The Eucharist rite works like all sacraments do: It effects by signifying. When women are excluded from presiding, it effects their subordination.
    The Eucharistic liturgy remains a symbol of the Church’s reluctance to include women fully in the mysteries of salvation.”

    Elizabeth A.Johnson CSJ (extract from a talk delivered at Boston College April 2004).

    None of these exclusions have been remedied under the pontificate of Francis. And women still have no votes at Vatican synods (while some un-ordained men now do).
    I am posting this on the International Day for the elimination of violence against women, which is very apt. The present ecclesial situation is experienced by many women as institutional spiritual violence, and far removed from the example of Jesus.

  4. Mary Vallely says:

    Roy Donovan @2, my admiration to you once again for your great courage in speaking out against injustices as you do!
    You ask, “If only we had someone like her (Vicky Phelan) in the Church who would name things as they are and articulate passion and energy for a better future for all.”

    We do as we have Soline! A more passionate and articulate voice you will not find.

    However I think you are right in stating that people have generally given up on wasting precious energy in trying to reform the seemingly irreformable.

    “Anyway priesthood is such a male outdated construct that it seems that most men and women are not interested.”

    I’ll admit I nodded my head and smiled at that but in actual fact it is a really sad fact of life.

    More power to yourself, Tony Flannery, Brendan Hoban et alia for staying within the institution. It can only be changed by those who remain within and who continue to speak out but my goodness, the energy, persistence, perseverance, patience and prayer required!

  5. Paddy+Ferry says:

    Roy, you are a courageous man, still within the institution and willing to publicly say:

    “Anyway priesthood is such a male outdated construct that it seems that most men and women are not interested.”

    I expect you have read “Why Priests” by Garry Wills.

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