of Roman Catholic Women Priests (RCWP) Canada gathered for two
intensive sessions. The following is a synthesis around the themes
that were discussed.
1: Companions on the Journey
experience has been that it is impossible to journey together
with the current leadership of the Church when not all baptized
persons in the Roman Catholic Church are considered equal. In fact,
we fear that any ideas that run counter to current Church teaching
will be ignored or redacted out of this presentation. Consequently,
we wish to remind those who receive this message that Church doctrine
does evolve (e.g. slavery, paying interest, etc.). We, in RCWP
Canada, are profoundly aware of being marginalized, criminalized even
(see CIC 83, c. 1379) because we advocate for access of all members
of the People of God to the ministries of the Church including
have taken time to listen to the pain and woundedness of many
Catholics. We have heard stories of exploitation, harassment,
spiritual and sexual abuse by clergy. We have listened to people tell
of losing their faith in the Church and even in God because of the
way they have been treated. The synodal process calls us to speak
with courage, freedom, truth and charity. However, we fear that once
again our voices will not be heard by others in the church including,
importantly, the current Hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church.
3: Speaking Out
believe in a Church where all voices should be heard, where the
Spirit can speak to the whole Church through the humblest to the most
erudite, from young to old. We believe that by and through our
Baptism, we are called to be prophets and therefore must share our
God-given gifts. And, we are all called to stand and name what is
wrong and what must change.
by the Spirit, we are using inclusive language for naming God, a
change we believe is crucial. One person in our group put it this
way, “God is not a boy’s name”. Because we truly want to be
the presence of God to/for/with each other, we make it a priority to
see the incarnate Christ in others, as people with stories to share.
Community members who identify as 2SLGBTQI, or have friends and
family members who do, experience exclusion from the Roman Catholic
Church. Our communities report that this has led many to reject the
church on that basis.
in RCWP Canada increasingly adopt the indigenous people’s use of
‘Creator’ or ‘Source of All Being’ rather than ‘Father’.
We remember that the Divine is Mystery and therefore should not be
circumscribed by any one word and that word always being represented
by male pronouns – as it is in the current Roman Missal.
have heard the voices of so many who have left the Church because the
Gospel has not been preached accurately nor effectively. Texts have
been selected to manipulate belief and behaviour. The word
“weaponized” has been used in reference to the current process of
selection. We, in RCWP Canada, choose to use a variety of
translations to better communicate the Word of God to the People of
God. We have reviewed the documents of Vatican II as they lay the
foundation for changes that were considered heretical even ten years
before the Council. We rejoice that our liturgies are in the people’s
language and made more participatory – including shared homilies.
Our celebrations, particularly the Eucharist, express an evolving
theology which moves away from sacrifice and atonement toward
thanksgiving – celebrations which nurture hope and instill joy. We
have sacramental celebrations that are life-giving, not guilt
inducing. We have sacramental celebrations that allow the Spirit to
flow in all and through all. We have sacramental celebrations which
empower us to proclaim the goodness of God through Gospel-inspired
5: Sharing Responsibility for Our Common Mission
as our celebrations must be life-giving, so too must they serve the
mission of the Church, in our own lives, here and now. Our model of
priesthood is one of servant leadership, where the practice of
accountability and collegiality enables us to call forth the gifts of
community members, empowering them to experience God, and leave our
gatherings determined to make a difference in the world.
6: Dialogue in Church and Society
are being asked to be persistent and patient; we are invited to
dialogue to promote mutual understanding. Our experience has taught
us that there can be no dialogue without transparency and
accountability. This makes sense only if our leaders engage in active
listening – real, respectful conversational
dialogue – and go on to accept changes and make them happen.
when engaging in a synod is called upon to move out of one’s own
comfort zone. This means stepping away from patriarchal platforms and
respecting the fundamental human rights of all. Otherwise, the moral
authority of the Church will remain as it is – all but lost today.
we the Church are to survive, we must reach the younger populations
who are disaffected, disinterested and ‘church averse’, in large
part because Church moral teaching is focused on an antiquated and
obsolete Augustinian understanding of sexuality as inherently sinful
rather than honoring sexuality as a
gift of God and a natural part of the human existence.
participants feel that dialogue – whether between and among Roman
Catholics, Christians of other denominations, believers of
non-Christian religious traditions, or those who hold no religious
beliefs – has little place in this synodal process, other than to
express respect for the human dignity and freedom of conscience for
all. They suggest
the Synod begin with actively listening to those who have left the
Roman Catholic fold because they found a more life-giving spiritual
8: Authority and Participation
dream for a synodal church is one that is participatory and
co-responsible, truly inclusive, non-judgmental, and collegial. We
feel this will
not happen until all
our voices are heard by way of a vote.
In other words, the church must be rid of not only patriarchy but
clericalism. We have noted the words of Pope Francis on the subject
of clericalism, which is a perversion
of the priesthood, and that rigidity is one of its manifestations.
have considered the futility and, indeed, the hazards of imposed
celibacy for priests, as well as the harm it has done to both
individuals and communities.
do not understand the postponement of women to the diaconate and the
refusal to admit women to the priesthood. What’s more, even
discussion on the latter topic is not allowed to happen. We consider
this an abuse of authority. The Church is not calling out our gifts
to be used to proclaim and establish the Reign of God. We feel
strongly that Church leadership is not listening to the Spirit
speaking through current biblical and theological scholarship.
9: Discerning and Deciding
hope is that the Roman hierarchy will openly eschew clericalism and
break away from patriarchy, to move toward a truly synodal church. We
dare to dream that decisions will be made after discerning what the
Holy Spirit is communicating through the whole community.
Participants repeatedly express the wish that our Church leadership
will adopt a manner of listening
is attentive, respectful, and open to the voices of all. Many feel
that a synodal church needs also to repent for the spiritual abuse
caused by preventing the majority of the baptized to live into the
10: Forming Ourselves in Synodality
will come in stages which require receptivity to change, formation,
and ongoing learning. This means making room for renewal in what we
believe, how we pray, and how we do justice. It means opening our
hearts and minds to the Spirit and her Wisdom, trusting that all
things can be made new for the greater glory of God.
submitted for RCWP Canada