Above: Bishop Rose Okeno of the Anglican Church of Kenya. Photo used with permission.
Why Women's Ordination Matters
WHY IT MATTERS TO THE CHURCH
The ordination of women to the priesthood matters to the Church because it makes possible: (1) proper discernment, (2) better formation, and (3) increased effectiveness in mission.
God’s Holy Spirit animates creation and works through all of us. Excluding a particular group of people from leadership on the basis of this or that basis drastically hinders the Church’s ability to discern God's desires. In other words, when groups of people are excluded from full participation in the Church, so are the ways in which God communicates through those groups. The natural outcome of such lopsided discernment is oppression: these same groups become and remain marginalized, defined by the ruling group as inferior and therefore destined to bear the impact of the structures that marginalize them. By welcoming every group of people into full participation in the Church, the Church can better discern God's communication and better learn how to build relationship with God.
A Roman Catholic Church that welcomes women as priests will provide much healthier formation for Catholics. Rather than teaching Catholics that women are defective by nature, and therefore deserving of subjugation on the basis of biology, the Church would be a place where all people flourish. Imagine this Church: Women and girls are embraced as fully human with their gifts welcomed at every level. Men and boys are taught to value women and girls as true peers both in and beyond the Church. Women bring their prayer and fresh and inclusive perspectives to theology and doctrine, which naturally brings the Church in better alignment with God's vision of flourishing for all creation. Women and girls are better served by ministers who know their experiences and create safe and healing sacramental spaces. These experiences in Church prepare Catholics to live in the world. In a Church that ordains women, Roman Catholics are better formed to be the leaven that uplifts the world, rather than agents of the status quo.
INCREASED EFFECTIVENESS IN MISSION
The Roman Catholic Church is growing fastest in Africa, and it is also growing in India and parts of Asia. If women can be ordained as priests, then women can also be ordained as bishops. Imagine a Church led by African women, Indian women, Asian women. These leaders will bring critical perspectives and gifts that will make our Church more effective in mission from the local all the way to the highest levels. The Church will be better able to evangelize by modeling equality, especially in places across the world where the situation of women is truly dire. Further, there seems to be an assumption that a Church that ordains women to priesthood in ultra-patriarchal cultures will not grow because it is “too counter-cultural.” However, the reverse is more likely to be true: a Church modeling God's justice and equality is more likely to grow as women discover a place where they are welcomed as fully human, where their gifts are cultivated and celebrated, where their daughters' lives are honored.
WHY IT MATTERS TO THE WORLD
The ordination of women matters to those outside the Church not only because Roman Catholics occupy powerful positions of leadership, and because the Roman Catholic Church is one of the most powerful institutions in the world.
The Roman Catholic Church is one of the most powerful institutions in the world. It is the largest nongovernmental provider of healthcare in the world, operates the worlds largest nongovernmental school system, and is one of the world’s largest landowners. The Holy See also participates in the United Nations as a permanent observer state with influence on issues affecting women. These massive institutions affect Catholics and non-Catholics alike, having a far-reaching impact across the globe. Though Pope Francis has empowered a handful of women as high-level administrators, there is little participation of women at the highest levels of Church, and zero participation of women at the top.
When women are ordained and participating at every level of the Church, the experiences and perspectives of women and girls will become a true priority and source of life for the Church. The inclusion of women will naturally change the Church's way of proceeding, and in time the worldwide ministries of the Church will become a far more powerful force of equality that uplifts the entire world, especially in those places where women and girls are most vulnerable and oppressed.
For all these reasons, ordaining women
would bolster Church authority, not diminish it.
WHY IT MATTERS MOST
The most important reason to ordain women is because it is what God has always desired.
The whole of scripture proclaims a God of liberation and mercy who desires freedom and flourishing for all creation--especially those most vulnerable, marginalized and oppressed. God has spent thousands of years trying to communicate to human beings in every conceivable way the fundamental truth of God's design: no group of people is superior to any other group of people. Period.
The teaching of a male-only priesthood violates (and has always violated) at its very foundation the Lord's vision for our lives together as a human family. Re-welcoming women into the priesthood has been a very long-time in the making. Rather than grasp onto its false understanding, the Roman Catholic Church must die to itself so that it can be born anew through the power of the Holy Spirit.
This is the paschal mystery. This is our faith.
#GodSaysNow #OrdainWomen #SpeakUpInTheSynod