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Patriarchy in the Church

Church patriarchy is an obstacle to integral human development, integral humanism and integral ecology photo
Luis T. Gutiérrez, | August 16, 2020

Any claim that men are women are ontologically different as to their human nature, and that therefore it is ontologically impossible to ordain women to act in persona Christi, is based on the obsolete sex/gender “binary” of patriarchal gender ideology, which is now known (via the Theology of the Body) to be ontologically and biophysically false.

Patriarchal (and imperial) Christendom is practically dead, but Christianity is not finished because the great commission is not finished.

Ecclesiastical patriarchy must be dismantled for a new evangelization, for integral human development, and for an integral ecology; else, much pain and suffering will be inflicted by the institutional church on the body of Christ and the entire community of creation.

It is not just an issue of justice for women; it is also about justice for men, because man needs woman as much as woman needs man, heads included. Male headship is a nefarious patriarchal myth, not natural law.

The relational complementarity of man and woman does not cancel their consubstantial unity.
It is time to recognize that the real travesty is not to deny ordination to women. The real travesty is to deny Christ the right to call women to serve in the priesthood of the New Law after the priesthood of the Old Law has been superseded by the redemption, and especially now that patriarchal civilization is passing away.

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  • Church patriarchy is an obstacle to integral human development, integral humanism and integral ecology
  • “Last yelp of a dying religious dictatorship”: German laity hit out at new Vatican instruction on parish life
  • It's time to end male supremacy in the Catholic Church
  • Theologian denounces “patriarchal and priestly worldview in which churchmen have been educated to feel doubly superior” to women
  • Timeline of Catholic Women’s Ordination in the Context of Work by Women’s Ordination Worldwide
  • Comments to the Editor
  • RCWP Canada Bishop's Message:  Who am I?
  • Women priests are possible, says new Vatican finance council member
  • Women's Ordination Conference surveys Catholic women in lay ministry
  • Austrian clerics push bishops to petition Vatican for male and female married priests
  • Catholic cognitive dissonance
  • Three Cheers for Christian Socialism
  • Seven years on, is the promise of real reform with Pope Francis dead in the water?
  • More on the 7 French women ‘apostles’
  • Catholic women still don't have suffrage in their church
  • Francis Comics
  • Comments to the Editor address and form
  • RCWP Canada Links
  • Related Links

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 RCWP Canada Bishop's Message
Who am I?

How do we come to know who we are?  The home and community we grow up in have a great influence on how we see ourselves.  Are we accepted for who we are intrinsically?  Do others define for us who and what we should be?  It is an important question.  We are not what others think of us; we are who God/de made us to be.

Like all of us, Jesus grew into self understanding.  In Luke (2.52) we read that he grew in wisdom, age and grace.  Growing in self-knowledge is part of maturing.  It was common in the world of Jesus for people to be known by the family. Jesus is described by others.  Isn’t this the carpenter’s son, isn’t Mary his mother, aren’t James and Joses his brothers? (Mt. 13.15) Today’s Gospel is another vignette into Jesus’ self understanding.  Here he is exploring his mission. 

Jesus asks the disciples “Who do others say I am?”  They give him what they are hearing:  John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.  That is probably helpful, but Jesus wants to know more from those called to be disciples. “Who do you say that I am?”  “What do you understand about me – and my mission?”  What have you absorbed in the experiences of this missionary journey: the feeding of the crowds, the parable of the extravagant sower, being sent ahead in the night to the other side and the experience of the storm and walking on water, healing the daughter of the Canaanite woman?  This is not a pop quiz – but a sincere enquiry in coming to know himself and those he chose as his ambassadors. 

These are also questions for the early Christian communities.  This scene is presented in each of the synoptic gospels: Mark, Matthew and Luke.  The early communities needed to answer this question, “Who are we following?”  “Is it the Christ, or Peter, or Paul, or Apollos -- or someone else?” (1 Cor.1.12)

In Matthew’s community particularly:

1. By the time this Gospel was written  Rome had destroyed the Jewish Temple. One might describe his community as being in a state of “religiously homelessness.”   They are trying to make their way in a new paradigm.

2. Their understanding of Jesus and his mission and their place in it is developing. There is a need to solidify the faith of their new members.  Strong leaders are needed to support the seekers lest they succumb to the temptation to return to their familiar religious practices.

3. The setting of this episode in Caesarea Philippi is very significant.  Caesarea Philippi is outside Galilee, in Gentile territory, on/near a trade route connecting Tyre in the West to Damascus in the Northeast.  A nearby cave housed a great spring that fed one of the sources of the Jordan River.  The cave and spring had long served as a sanctuary dedicated to the Greek god, Pan.  Greek inscriptions and niches carved into the rock suggest dedications to other pagan gods as well.

4. There are also signs of power and authority on display.  Herod the Great had a temple built near the spring to honour Caesar Augustus.  It was subsequently given over to the auspices of Herod’s son, Philip the Tetrarch, who established the city as the administrative centre of his government. 

5. Matthew’s community was likely aware that the Roman commander who led the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE had returned with his troops to Caesarea Philippi in celebration of their victory. 

Thus, Jesus’ question – Who do you say that I am? – hangs in the air at the intersection of economic trade, religion, and the power of the empire.  It is a question not simply about Jesus’ identity, as if getting the titles right would get a good report card grade.  It’s a question about allegiance.  In whom will the followers of Jesus place their loyalty, their trust?  Will it be the privileges deriving from access to opportunity and wealth? Will it be the worship of a prevailing cultures’ latest idols? Will they pledge allegiance to the dominant power of earthly rulers? Or will they trust the one whose life, death and resurrection reveal the mercy and justice of the living God.  Jesus, not the emperor, is Lord.  (Audrey West, Working Preacher)

As the communities sought their way forward, the author of the Gospel of Matthew has a preference for Peter to any other of the disciples to be the designated leader of his time. Peter is at the forefront of the group of disciples throughout his Gospel. But it is collegial identity. Just as Jewish identity developed from community wisdom, this person was not to be a Caesar image or like a Roman commander, but one who knew who Christ was, was committed to him, (rock solid) and, therefore, could serve as a spiritual caretaker and point of unity for the community.  The foundation of authority or leadership (the key to the reign of God) is accuracy of attesting to Jesus as the Christ, the anointed one, Messiah, son of the Living God – not another person or worse still, an inanimate idol. 

Our answer to Jesus’ question is vitally important. How we answer “Who do you say I am?” says as much or more about us (personally and collectively) than about Jesus.  It reveals who and how we are and will be.  It reveals how we live and what we stand up for.  It guides our decisions, and determines the actions we take and the words we speak.  It describes the expectations and demands we place on Jesus.  It discloses the depth of our motivation for and commitment to following him, even as he invites us to take up our suffering and die with him. 

We are challenged to shape our lives according to the depths of the riches and wisdom of God, the life and heart of Jesus -- the authenticity of our identity.  Are we prepared to say with Peter, “You are the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the Living God?”  As believers, are we the Christ walking the world today?!

+ Jane

[Jane Kryzanowski, Regina, SK is bishop for RCWP Canada]

Women priests are possible, says new Vatican finance council member

Katholische Nachrichten-Agentur, | Aug 10, 2020

Law professor Charlotte Kreuter-Kirchhof, recently appointed by Pope Francis as a member of the high-level group that oversees the Vatican's finances, said August 10th that she regards it possible that women could serve as priests in the Catholic Church and in top roles within the Vatican bureaucracy.

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Women's Ordination Conference surveys Catholic women in lay ministry

Alexandra Greenwald, | August 14, 2020

University of Chicago Divinity School student Rebecca MacMaster entered seminary out of a desire to make the Catholic Church "the best it can be" and to answer a calling to teach and work in college or parish ministry.

"My Catholic identity is so important to me, and it informs so much of how I interact with the world," said MacMaster, who is a candidate for a master's in divinity. "I know the Church can be a force for good and instrumental change in the world, and it became very important to me to help affect that change."

MacMaster wouldn't pursue ordination if it were available to women and has not felt excluded from any forms of lay ministry by her gender, she said in an email interview. Even so, she has often felt that other Catholics expect her to pursue children's ministry, or that her gender and age have caused her to be "talked over or pigeonholed into certain affinity ministries" in her work in the church.

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Read the full report

Austrian clerics push bishops to petition Vatican for male and female married priests

Cameron Doody, | August 7, 2020

Austrian clerics are pushing their bishops to petition the Vatican for male and female married priests.

Key points
– Recent Vatican instruction on parish life an “affront” to Church members trying “to react constructively to the lack of priests”
– “If we were to lead our parishes with this monarchical clericalism, we would lose committed Catholics”
– Priests and bishops may be driven to disobey Vatican “out of pastoral need”

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Catholic cognitive dissonance


Ceil Lavan, | Aug 3, 2020

Cognitive dissonance, as defined at Odyssey and elsewhere, is the uncomfortable mental stress we feel when we experience conflicting values, beliefs and behaviors within ourselves; or when we are confronted with opposing values, beliefs and behaviors that conflict with our own.

Cognitive dissonance can be a wake-up call to do something; it can be the motivation to make change, to take action.

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Seven years on, is the promise of real reform with Pope Francis dead in the water?


Consuelo Vélez, | August 6, 2020

It seems to me that we will have to keep on enduring for much longer an ecclesial structure that is so rigid and so full of fears that it will not risk being a Church on a mission, a missionary Church, a Church of the people of God where clerics, laity and religious live the co-responsibility of the evangelising mission and risk everything to become more and more like the Church that Jesus wanted.

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Catholic women still don't have suffrage in their church

Jamie Manson, | August 25, 2020

Tomorrow marks the 100th anniversary of the day that women's right to vote was enshrined in the Constitution of the United States. The passage of the 19th amendment was the result of more than 80 years of women agitating, picketing and lobbying; some endured jail time and force-feedings when they went on strike to protest their arrests.

. . . Even in those earliest days of the fight for suffrage, women realized, and spoke openly about, the need for equality not only in the government, but also in the church.

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“Last yelp of a dying religious dictatorship”: German laity hit out at new Vatican instruction on parish life

Cameron Doody, | July 22, 2020

German laity are hitting out at the new Vatican instruction on parish life, describing it as the “last yelp of a dying religious dictatorship”.

Key points
– Congregation for the Clergy “tries in a criminal way to maintain clericalisation”
– “The image of the parish community gathered around the priest is made impossible by the lack of priests”
– “Unsustainable” Vatican vision “opts for fear and against a future for the Church”

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It's time to end male supremacy in the Catholic Church

Roy Bourgeois, | July 24, 2020

As the world struggles toward equality, the church hierarchy trots out the same tired justifications for women's subordination, much of it rooted in pseudoscience and the ignorant musings of medieval philosophers.

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Theologian denounces “patriarchal and priestly worldview in which churchmen have been educated to feel doubly superior” to women

Mada Jurado, | August 18, 2020

A theologian has denounced “the patriarchal and priestly worldview in which churchmen have been educated to feel doubly superior” to women.

Key points
– All-male clergy “unconsciously hinders any possibility of reform”
– “Jesus did not ordain priests. And in the first communities of believers – normative for the Church of all times – there were none either”
– “Very example of Jesus” at stake in reform of theology of ordained ministry

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Timeline of Catholic Women’s Ordination in the Context of Work by Women’s Ordination Worldwide

Timeline 13

2017:  February - Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the  Pontifical Cultural Council says in an interview with  that he thinks ‘a diaconate for women would be possible.’  He calls for a stronger presence of women in the Vatican.

2017:  Women’s Ordination Worldwide marks the 54th “Vocations Sunday” (May 7th) with prayerful witnesses around the world --‘from Dublin to Des Moines’ -- calling for women’s inclusion into all ministries of the Roman Catholic Church.  In its press release, WOW observes that ‘While  the Vatican encourages the global Church to pray for the ministers of the Church and  for “young men and women to hear and respond generously to the Lord’s  call to the priesthood, diaconate, religious life, [and] societies of  apostolic life, ‘ the seemingly inclusive language neglects  to footnote those ministries where women are rejected, silenced and  punished for following their call to ordination. WOW recognizes that  women are called to serve at every level of the Church, including the  diaconate as well as priesthood.  The Roman Catholic Church’s exclusion  of women perpetuates the inequality of women around the world.’

2017: Women’s Ordination Worldwide celebrates the feast of St. Mary Magdalene (22 July) with the launch of Dr. Annette Esser’s beautiful original painting, "Longing for the Sun of Justice." The painting symbolizes women’s calling to priesthood, not granted by men in the church, but through Christ. On the Feast of the Apostle to the Apostles, we are reminded that Mary Magdalene followed Jesus' call to go and tell the Good News of the Resurrection, inspiring women for centuries to answer God's call to preach, minister, and live the Gospel message of equality.

2017: Sweden’s first Cardinal, Cardinal Anders Arborelius proposes  Pope Francis create a special advisory body of women similar to the College of  Cardinals. Arborelius tells media in Rome, ‘It’s  very important to find a broader way of involving women at various  levels in the church. The role of women is very, very important in  society, in economics, but in the church sometimes we are a bit behind.’ He continues, ‘We would be mad not to use  women’s talents. In fact, it would be downright foolish…[The  fact that only men can be ordained Catholic priests is] ‘certainly not  helping the church come across as a pioneer of equal rights… [The  church’s message must be inclusive. [T]that is why I  want to emphasise that positions of responsibility and executive  positions in the church that are open to lay people must be shared by  both men and women’.

2017: Women’s Ordination Worldwide stands in solidarity with Limerick, Ireland parish priest, Fr. Roy Donovan, for his recent public statements in support of women's ordination to the Roman Catholic priesthood and diaconate.  In its press statement, WOW expresses hope that more members of the clergy and hierarchy will speak  out for women's full inclusion in our Church, joining the majority of  Catholics around the world who support greater roles, including  ordination, for women in the Church.  The  Church hierarchy must rid itself of the sin of sexism and once and for  all, model its own Gospel values by recognizing women as equal partners  in faith.

2018: In the face of Pope Francis’s repeated calls for dialogue, Women’s Ordination Worldwide expresses dismay that within  Vatican bureaucracy the silencing and policing of women's voices continues to be the status quo. Former Irish president Mary McAleese and Ugandan activist Ssenfuka Joanita Warry are banned from speaking at a Vatican International Women’s Day event organised by Voices of Faith. It is reported that Cardinal Kevin Farrell, head of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life is responsible for the decision. No reason is cited, but McAleese is known as an outspoken advocate for women's ordination and LGBT rights.  In its press release, WOW observes: ‘While this turn of events is unfortunate, perhaps it is an opportunity to bring the Vatican's role in the structural and spiritual oppression of women into this year's discussion.’  WOW applauds Voices of Faith for moving their conference to another location rather than accepting such censorship.  The Jesuit Curia in Rome provides space for the event to proceed.

In her keynote address (listen and watch to her precious words here) McAleese observes:  The  Catholic Church has long since been a primary global carrier of the  virus of misogyny. It has never sought a cure though a cure is freely  available. Its name is “equality”.  The text of the address is here: The Time Is Now For Change in the Catholic Church

2018: Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, also a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith publicly says a future Council should review the question of the ordination of women as deacons, priests and bishops.  Responding to a ‘developing need,’ Schönborn believes these ‘big questions’ should not be left to the Pope alone, but rather decided by the Church community. In a press statement, Women’s Ordination Worldwide supports him saying, ‘No door can keep out the Holy Spirit nor silence God’s call in the lives of women. WOW urges our Church leaders to challenge the “closed door” of women’s ordination and break the silence on the exclusion of women for sacramental ministry and decision-making roles in the Church.’

2018: The new General Secretary of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer speaks publicly in support  of  women’s ordination.  The statement is  made on her own  initiative. The Catholic  politician from the Saarland, who is considered a possible successor to  Chancellor Angela Merkel, says  she personally has felt  called to the priesthood. With her statement, she makes it  clear that she trusts her Roman Catholic Church not to split  itself on this question but on the contrary to grow positively and to  be strengthened.   In its press statement, Women’s Ordination Worldwide welcomes her public witness.

2018: Women’s Ordination Worldwide launches a series, Catholic Women Called documenting short videos of women called to priesthood — women the institutional Church tries to discredit and dismiss.

2018: May 21 - Pope Francis voices alarm at the ‘vocational sterility’ and ‘haemorrhaging’ of nuns and priests in Italy and Europe.  Women’s Ordination Worldwide responds through The Holy Spirit is calling Women and Men to serve in a renewed priesthood and reminds him that a ‘shortage of vocations to the  outdated forms of the priesthood or religious life does not mean there  are no vocations, as we can see many Catholics, both women and men,  being involved as lay ministers or pastoral associates, or even taking  steps toward ordination in movements such as the Roman Catholic Womenpriests.  New times require new models to fulfill God-given vocations.  The most obvious ‘haemorrhaging’ in the Church today is the generations  of talented and educated women who are leaving the Catholic Church to  answer their call to priesthood or find equal rights and dignity in  another faith. The People of God are following these women to  communities that model equality and inclusion.’

2018:  Archbishop  Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith publishes an article in the Vatican’s L’Osservatore Romano  claiming that ‘there are voices that put into doubt the definitive  nature’ of the ban on the women’s priestly ordination, and ‘sowing these  doubts creates serious confusion among the faithful.’   Women’s Ordination Worldwide responds with a press statement saying it is ill-informed arguments such as Archbishop Ladaria’s that are to blame for any ‘confusion’ of the faithful. WOW leadership reminds Ladaria that while the Vatican continues to defend policies that consider women  inferior, limiting the reaches of God’s call to ministry, and  maintaining a male-only hierarchy, women and young people are walking  away.  The Christian solution to the “virus of misogyny” is equality.

2018: During Pope Francis’s visit to Ireland, police in that country grant permission for members of WOW member group We Are Church Ireland and Women’s Ordination Worldwide to offer Francis a special message as he lands in Dublin. WOW gathers on the east side of the Halfpenny Bridge and with 50 raised umbrellas that have the words ‘Women Priests’ and the LGBT rainbow flag shown on them.  WOW holds a second action when it witnesses outside the Papal mass for women’s inclusion and ordination in a renewed Catholic Church. The purpose of the action is to draw attention to the absence of women on the altar and encourage mass goers to ask themselves and Church leaders: ‘How long must we tolerate this injustice?’

2018: Pope Francis reiterates a ‘closed door’ stance on women’s ordination.  Women’s Ordination Worldwide calls on him to lead by example and dialogue with the many women who are called to priesthood.  In a press release, WOW stands with the people of God who are deprived of women’s gifts and sacramental leadership and with the women who are alienated and dismissed by his discriminatory remarks as their call from God to priesthood is repeatedly denied by the Church hierarchy.  Strangely, in the same interview, when referring to Vatican relations with China, Pope Francis is quoted as saying, ‘Dialogue is a risk, but I prefer risk rather than the certain defeat that comes with not holding dialogue.’ In its press release, WOW challenges  Pope Francis to dialogue with women called to priesthood and to extend his encouragement for fearless dialogue throughout his pontificate to contexts of the Church's life that include women's priestly vocation and equality in the Church.

2018: Women’s Ordination Worldwide Calls for Votes for Catholic Women. In 2015, and again at the upcoming Synod on Youth, Faith, and Vocational Discernment, progress is made when religious brothers (non-ordained men) are named as voting members of the Synod. But while theologically and canonically “equal” to their brothers, women religious are still denied a voting role. At a press conference, WOW points out that  ‘Even when even when the letter of the law is changed to be more inclusive, the culture and practice of gender inequality maddingly persists.  The practice of sacralized gender discrimination within the Catholic Church not only erodes its credibility, it sends a clear message to women: stay silent, stay invisible, stay in your place.’  WOW says that ‘With new revelations of sexual abuse in the Church, we are facing the deep failures and sins of the current clerical system, a structure that risked the safety, faith, and trust of children and vulnerable people to protect itself. This kind of “boy’s club” clericalism cannot be trusted to lead a global discussion on Youth, Faith, and Vocational Discernment, where only 10% of participants (“observers,” “consultors,”) will be women.’

"Knock, knock! Who's there? More than half the Church" was the chant by activists who gathered outside the walls of the Synod calling global attention to the Vatican's decision-making bodies that marginalize women and deny them voting rights.

2018: Augustinian priest John J. Shea writes to Council of Cardinals in care of Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Chairman of the German Catholic Bishops Conference asking them to speak boldly, freely, and without fear in support of women’s ordination.

2018: Women’s Ordination Worldwide holds a vigil in St. Peter’s Square during the Synod on Youth, Faith, and Vocational Discernment.  WOW calls for Votes for Women.  Vatican police attempt to intimidate those present.

2018: Augustinian priest John  Shea writes a letter to Pope Francis stating that the exclusion of women from priesthood is a heresy.  He points out that the continuing discrimination against women is puerile sexism.

[This is the thirteenth
excerpt of a timeline we are serializing here.  For the full timeline, see the Women's Ordination Worldwide website.]

Comments to the Editor

"I wasn't surprised when, in late July, the Vatican put out new instructions limiting the extent to which the laity can preside over a parish. But I was sad to see an institution so intent preserving clerical power that it is willing to deny the gifts that the laity offer to the life of the church every day.

Laypeople, the document says, should not be "directing, coordinating, moderating or governing the Parish."

Only a priest can exercise "the full care of souls," the Vatican tells us — which means, of course, women never can."

I cannot possibly be sadder. Here, I actually thought perhaps, just maybe, in this century, we might see change. I thought Pope Francis. I thought hope. Alas. No. I must one more time swallow my hope and anger and ... what? What exactly are women to do in the face of such intransigence and implacability? Such deep, unconscious fear of women, the feminine,lost power and control. There must be something somewhere. Perhaps. Perhaps we can learn in communion with women and men of love.

[Pearl Gregor, New Sarepta, AB is author of the Dreams Along the Way Series, and is a frequent contributor to The Review.]

More on the 7 French women ‘apostles’: | August 2020

Nuncio in France to meet with women ‘apostles’ seeking place in Church hierarchy as would-be female bishop receives death threat

7 women ‘apostles’ claim place in male-only Catholic hierarchy: “The Church is in a deep crisis, and we need to open up its doors”

7 women “apostles” apply for male-only ministries in Church to challenge “immense injustice” of Catholic sexism

2/6: More than 4,500 sign in support of female theologian Anne Soupa’s bid to be next Archbishop of Lyon (with video)

Female candidate for Archbishop of Lyon Anne Soupa deplores: “The situation of women in the Church is scandalous”

Three Cheers for Christian Socialism

David Bentley Hart, | February 24, 2020

Christian socialism proposes a use of civic wealth for common human ends—the Christian law of love of neighbor and faith in God’s charity—that modernity has displaced by its reliance instead on the forces of self-interest.

Read More of this seven page article

Francis, the comic strip  by Pat Marrin July 24, 2020
National Catholic Reporter

Used with permission

To send a Comment to the Editor, please use this email address: or use the form below:

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