In September 2017, Voices of Faith conducted a flash online survey for young women (ages 18-35) and invited them to share their perspectives on faith and the Catholic Church.
The survey does not statistically represent the views of young women but it offers a frank, authentic glimpse into the spiritual lives of young women from around the world who perhaps have little voice in official Church processes.
Survey respondents come from 22 countries from six continents. 53 percent of the respondents are students, while 68 percent stated that they hold full-time or part-time employment.
We live in times marked by change, but there are places where gender equality is being systematically overlooked. The Catholic Church is one of them.
Today, women are asking why the Church is so slow in recognising their value and opening governance and ministerial roles to them; roles that incorporate their faith, gifts, expertise and education into structures of authority at all levels.
Our world is facing a future more meaningful by the inclusion of women in significant positions. We will not let gender inequality undermine the longevity of the Church.
Our voices stir the winds of change, so we must speak. Will Pope Francis and our pastoral leaders listen?
Register to attend at https://voicesoffaith.org/event/
OR LIVE STREAM via the website 14:00 CET, 08:00 EST, 18:30 IST
Despite internal resistance within the Vatican, Pope Francis and General Secretariat want to hear from all young people throughout the world
Last January, the Vatican promised that a questionnaire open to all young people would be released on March 1st. It is now mid-May and still hasn’t come out. It seems apparent that there is internal resistance in the Vatican from those who do not want just anybody sending in responses, which an on-line survey would be open to. But, on the other side, that is exactly what Pope Francis and Cardinal Baldisseri want. Recently this article was posted on UCA News describing the Synod General Secretariat’s visit to Hong Kong and his meeting there with young people. It is entitled: Synod official listens to Hong Kong youth and subtitled Upcoming Synod of Bishops in Rome will take into account the views of young people all over the world. http://www.ucanindia.in/news/synod-official-listens-to-hong-kong-youth/34801/daily
CCRI is encouraged to hear the General Secretariat of the Synod office indicate that this questionnaire is still forthcoming. Cardinal Baldisseri indicated that the Synod on Youth wants the participants to be “all young people on the earth, not just Catholics and Christians. He encouraged Hong Kong Catholics not to ignore the ‘opportunity to be involved’ in the synod and to keep a look out at the General Secretariat website for a questionnaire which you can fill out online." Our young adult sub-committee is standing by ready to promote the Vatican questionnaire or, in the alternative if the matter is left unresolved in Rome, they are ready to release their own questionnaire or a series of comments from young people to be sent directly to his office, the General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops.
by J A Dick (Reproduced with permission)
April 20, 2017
Reform-minded people need to change their conversation about church reform. Otherwise they end up either talking to themselves or simply repeating what everyone else has been saying for the past ten years. Changing the conversation means looking at church life in new ways and developing new strategies and patterns for church life today and tomorrow. It means thinking creatively and asking challenging and deeper questions….
Some proposals for refection:
(1) Look less at the church as institution and more as a community of faith. What is happening within your own community of faith? What are the life-issues that really concern your family and friends? Where do you find your support? How can you motivate and help the men and women in your community to truly minister to each other? What is keeping us from experimenting with new forms of parish and parish life? Perhaps a parish should be a collection of many smaller communities of faith? Household churches in which the heads of the households – men and women — preside over informal Eucharistic liturgies, as in the Apostolic era?
(2) Look deeper than the shortage of ordained ministers and ordained women ministers. Let’s look at the meaning of ministry itself. Let’s look at and examine the very idea of ORDAINED ministry. Jesus did not ordain anyone. Let’s scratch our heads about new forms of ministry and break out of the old patterns and paradigms. Why not have ordained graduate students helping out in university parishes? Ordaining men and women for five year terms? Perhaps a parish should have many part-time ordained ministers who have “regular” jobs? And how about dropping the word “priest”? “Minister” has better resonance with the Gospel. Should we close all seminaries and agree that they are not the best structures for the formation and education of ordained ministers?
(3) And why not elect diocesan bishop overseers for limited terms of ministry? Why not five year terms, which could be renewed for just another five-year term? Another thought, do bishops have to be the top person in a diocese? Why not give ecclesiastical authority to a diocesan leadership team? I could see a team of at least three people: a diocesan administrator, who could be a man or woman and not necessarily ordained; a diocesan director of pastoral formation, who could be a man or woman and not necessarily ordained; and a bishop (man of woman) who would serve as spiritual director and sacramental coordinator for the diocese. Shared decision-making and a great way to dismantle the clerical old boys club.
(4) Catholic and Christian. Healthy Catholicism is rooted in healthy Christianity. So what does it really mean to be a follower of Jesus Christ today? This raises questions of belief. What do we really know about the historical Jesus? He was not white, for sure. Jesus was most likely dark brown and sun-tanned. What about all of those rather saccharin and androgynous images of Jesus that really distort who he was and what he was all about? Was his biological father the Holy Spirit or the man we call
Joseph? Isn’t the “virgin birth” more about saying he was a very special person than analyzing the biology of his conception? What if Jesus was gay or a married fellow with children? Would that make a difference for you? Would that destroy his meaning for Christian believers? Why? Was JesusGod? Early Jewish Christians, including St. Paul, would have never said that. Or was Jesus the revelation of God’s graciousness and love, as well as the revelation of authentic humanity? Jesus is “Lord,” the “Christ,” “Son of Humanity,” and “Son of God.” All of our language tries to point to his uniqueness……..
(5) Ecumenical discussions. What are the real differences between church groups in Christianity today? Are there any good reasons why we cannot simply start worshiping together? Are we not locked in medieval theological categories about “them” and “us”? Are structural church distinctions based on Protestantism and Roman Catholicism still significant differences in belief? Isn’t Jesus Christ, for example, just as truly “present” in Episcopalian Eucharist as he is in Roman Catholic Eucharist? Are Lutherans and Presbyterians cut off from him in their worship services? What today is the uniqueness of Roman Catholicism? Perhaps the goal of ecumenical collaboration today should be respecting a variety of traditions and at the same time enhancing the Christian life of all believers and not creating a mega-church institution? Why not turn places, like the Vatican, into United Nations heritage sites? Tourist revenue could be used to fight world poverty. Church palaces could be turned into schools and hospitals or residences for political refugees.
(6) Seven sacraments. We now know of course that the seven sacraments were created by the church not the historical Jesus. What then is the meaning of “sacrament” today? Who controls sacramental forms? Does it make sense to argue about who can “validly” administer certain sacraments? When I got married, I was told, based on Catholic sacramental understandings, that my wife and I as baptized believers “conferred the sacrament” on each other and the priest was simply an official
witness. OK, what about baptized gays and lesbians who get married? Isn’t their marriage then just as “sacramental” as mine? What about “lay” pastoral ministers in hospitals and homes for the elderly. They are often the key Christian ministers in these people’s lives. Why can’t they “anoint” the sick and dying? Maybe they should just start doing it? Isn’t Christian ministry about prayer and compassion and comforting the sick?
These are just a few thought-starters…… Creative and critical reflection is not a dangerous activity and it can be a source of life….