Querida Amazonia 99-100: The Strength and Gift of Women

For a male-driven institution, this topic is a difficult one. In some ways Pope Francis’ post-synodal exhortation skirts some issues while tentatively addressing others. The strength and gift of women isn’t easy for some males. This admission is an important one:

99. In the Amazon region, there are communities that have long preserved and handed on the faith even though no priest has come their way, even for decades. This could happen because of the presence of strong and generous women who, undoubtedly called and prompted by the Holy Spirit, baptized, catechized, prayed and acted as missionaries. For centuries, women have kept the Church alive in those places through their remarkable devotion and deep faith. Some of them, speaking at the Synod, moved us profoundly by their testimony.

Things falter a bit here:

100. This summons us to broaden our vision, lest we restrict our understanding of the Church to her functional structures. Such a reductionism would lead us to believe that women would be granted a greater status and participation in the Church only if they were admitted to Holy Orders.

So far, so good.

But that approach would in fact narrow our vision; it would lead us to clericalize women, diminish the great value of what they have already accomplished, and subtly make their indispensable contribution less effective.

This could be true of any individual. The Church fears addressing the issue of gifts in women. Are spiritual gifts, a supernatural reality, connected so intimately to the characteristics of the mortal world? There are certainly many instances of men getting ordained and thus contributing to clericalism and a less than effective service in the Church. All that said, I’d say the more serious issue is the fracturing of unity if women were ordained. That’s not a casual consequence of some Christians ordaining women and others not. I admit it is as knotty a puzzle as anything the followers of Jesus could address.

This document is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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