This is an excellent article from America—though the author cannot follow his own reasoning to its obvious conclusion—about this potent subject and the focus on the impact of evangelization is exactly the focus I took in my book about it, Women in the Church, St. Catherine of Siena, Fr. Teilhard de Chardin, & Criminal Reformation, which inclues in its opening pages:
“The Church stands in the world as a sign of contradiction and as the world since time immemorial excluded women from full personhood; the Church must ensure that within her embrace, woman’s full personhood is deeply rooted and complete; which can only be accomplished by priestly ordination and full equality with men in the leadership of the Church on earth as that equality is certainly so in Heaven.
“I have come to believe, fully and completely, that the institutional Church has been wrong in not ordaining women to be priests; just as the Church was wrong for centuries in seeing the earth as the center of the solar system, and slavery as acceptable and usury not; and this wrongness, in the treatment of women, will become obvious to criminals being evangelized, for they know, better than most, the pain and sorrow of being marginalized, even though their marginalization is self-imposed while that of the women in the Church comes from the Vatican and twisted history.” (p. 10)
Excerpt from the America article:
A Matter of Evangelization
Wherever you stand on the matter, it should be clear to all of us that the doctrine represents a problem for evangelization. Even if the teaching is not unjust—even if it is not the result of the church’s failure to fully appreciate the dignity and equality of women—the perception by many, if not most people in the United States today is that it is. And the very perception of an unjust church handicaps its ability to witness effectively to the world. By way of analogy, if rumors circulate throughout town about a particular restaurant having a filthy kitchen, then no matter how clean the kitchen actually is or how good the food is, no one will care what is on the menu.
If evangelization is the central priority that we say so often it is, then even the most self-consciously orthodox among us, even those convinced no woman ever should or will be ordained a priest, should be intensely concerned with ensuring that the church is absolutely and obviously committed to the equality and dignity of women. Given this, efforts to expand the role of women in the church should not be a source of conflict among the faithful at different places along the theological spectrum but a point of contact and cooperation. How might we join together around this issue? Here are a few ideas:
- We should cry out together for greater roles for women in church administration and leadership at all levels. The gift of being a good leader is not a grace of the sacrament of orders. And since many women today are not only theologically trained but have reached levels of theological accomplishment that far surpasses that of most priests, there is no reason that women should not serve as officials at all ecclesial levels, from the Roman Curia on down. There is also no theological reason faithful women who have attained the highest accomplishments in church, business, social services and other areas could not be named cardinals.