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Vatican City -- Pope Francis is firing back at foes of his efforts to make the Catholic church more open and pastoral in its ministry, telling an interviewer that “they are acting in bad faith to foment divisions.”
The pontiff’s lengthy interview in Avvenire, the official newspaper of the Italian hierarchy, was published Friday and followed days of news coverage of demands by four hard-line cardinals who have grave concerns about Francis’ approach.
The four say that focusing on ministering to people in their particular circumstances is eroding the church’s doctrinal absolutes and that Francis must dispel any ambiguities or face serious consequences.
After efforts to persuade the Catholic church in India to deal with sexual abuse of women by clergy, and upset over the church's slow progress, a group of Christian women, mostly Catholics, announced steps for addressing the issue on their own.
"We should move outside the church to seek answers to abuse cases. We should treat this problem as a crime and take recourse to the law," said Astrid Lobo Gajiwala, a lay woman theologian.
Gajiwala, who heads the women's collective Satyashodak (meaning "seekers of truth"), made these remarks at a recent national seminar that studied the impact of religion and culture on the empowerment of women from an Indian perspective.
by Peter J Wilkinson
15 May 2012 originally published in The Swag
A plenary or national council (or synod) is an assembly of the bishops, clergy, religious and laity of a particular nation working to ensure that the pastoral needs of the People of God in that nation are provided for (C. 445).
It is 75 years since the last plenary council of the Catholic Church in Australia, held in 1937. That, and earlier ones in 1885, 1895 and 1905, were exclusively male clerical gatherings, with only bishops, theologians and superiors of male religious orders attending. Women, religious or lay, took no part.
The question now is: Has the time come to convene a fifth plenary council or synod in Australia, to be held under new inclusive rules (C. 443) which allow wider participation of Christ’s faithful, including women, to address the critical issues of our times?
People in reform organizations from North America, India, Africa, Europe and Oceana have responded with care to what Pope Francis is saying about women's ordination. Along with Pope Francis, reformers recognize that in the current teaching of the Church, the Magisterium is without authority to ordain women. This teaching, as expressed by Pope John Paul II in his apostolic letter of 1994, is an impediment to full removal of gender discrimination from priestly ministry. For many faithful conservatives, current teaching is part of the deposit of faith. As reformers see it, Francis has a fiduciary responsibility for a worldwide Church, and this responsibility includes consideration of these members of the faithful as well as consideration of those who see gender discrimination in priestly ministry as contrary to the whole of Christ's teaching.
When asked if he saw the ordination of women as something that would "never, ever" happen, Francis said that John Paul's apostolic letter "goes in that direction." This is consistent with the obligation upon a fiduciary to preserve continuity over the course of a history which continues to respond to the Spirit of Christ. Reformers see his words as still another in a long series of invitations for the "grassroots" to follow through on their heritage as full members of the People of God, serving as a channel for the Church to listen more closely to the voice of the Spirit. Reformers note that the Biblical Commission appointed in 1976 by Pope Paul VI found nothing in the New Testament which prohibits the ordination of women, a conclusion which leaves the question of women's ordination open for further reflection.
Statement from the National Consultation at Montfort Social Institute, Hyderabad,
23rd – 26th September, 2016.
We bring only our determination to serve and our willingness to be free. We will not hesitate to leave our old ways behind: we fear, silence and submission.
Only surrender is to the need of the time: to do justice and walk humbly with God.
Though we set out in the dark.
We are confident that God will be present with us in fire and in the cloud to encourage us.
(Alla Renee Bozarth)
Down the ages men have been perceived to be the sole recipients and transmitters of divine messages. Women on the other hand, have been socialized by patriarchal religious structures and practices to passively accept religious teachings as interpreted by men. These andocentric and patriarchal interpretations have defined and shaped the social and cultural contexts of Indian women resulting in their disempowerment and second class status. Recognizing the influence of religion and culture on Indian women’s lives, Streevani took the initiative to organize a National Consultation on the theme “Impact of Religion and Culture on Women’s Empowerment – An Indian Perspective” from 23rd to 26th September, 2016 at Hyderabad. The Montfort Social Institute hosted the meeting and were also co-organizers together with the Indian Christian Women’s Movement, The Indian Women Theologians Forum, and Satyashodak. 50 people, religious women and men, lay women and one diocesan priest were present.