As long as some men view women as female men, we’ll probably continue with the protests and movement against sexist language and practices in the Church and outside of it. This century’s Roman synods certainly don’t have a good track record, as reported by the CNS Blog:
– 2001 synod on religious life, one woman expert, a Salesian, among sixteen.
– 2005 synod on the Eucharist, none out of thirty-two.
CNS reports that American Catholics can agitate for the make-up of the expert committee of this Fall’s synod on the Word.
While it seems that some will dismiss this move as pandering for interest-group representation, I think it shows more about the general Vatican disdain for accessing the deepest expertise within Catholicism. Sure, you could find a few dozen decent Scripture scholars within, say, Italy alone, or among the world’s bishops, or among ordained males alone. And that sort of input would be valid, as far as expert input is concerned. But it wouldn’t be complete.
I found the inclusion of one woman expert for 2001 rather incredible, given the flourishing of certain so-called traditional women’s orders these days. You’d think that if the women have their act together on religious life, and their recent numbers have buried the numbers of men in religious life and probably always have, that kind of witness would be helpful to bishops and pope.
On the other hand, if these synods are just a little Roman holiday for already overburdened prelates, why not just call it a vacation, order up good Italian wine by the bottle, and have at it. If one believes the Church is on solid-enough ground to just have a little month-long wine-and-cheese gathering in Rome, so be it. Personally, I think the pilgrimage schtick bishops hook themselves into is a pretty juicy deal.
But … if you think the world’s bishops might need a little kick to get things going, go ahead and send a postcard. Here’s the text of it:
Thank you for acknowledging the “many contributions of the lay faithful” to the Synod on the Word. Pope Benedict has three times spoken about the need to “offer more space, and more positions of responsibility to women” (March 2006).
Please include the following in your preparations for the Synod:
-Invite women biblical experts. No women theologians were included in the 2005 Synod.
-Devote more pastoral attention to Jesus and St. Paul‘s inclusion of women leaders.
-Expand opportunities for women preachers so both women and men can hear the Word through the lens of female experience.
-Restore biblical women leaders to lectionary readings in which their witness was diminished or deleted. (see Sr. Ruth Fox’s article from May/June issue of LITURGY 90, (c) 1996, available at http://www.futurechurch.org)
I would appreciate your reply.