The National Catholic Review

Pope Francis on the Vocation of Women

Oct 15 2013 - 11:50am | Catholic News Service

Addressing a conference on Oct. 12, Pope Francis outlined two dangers to the vocation of women.

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James Richard | 10/15/2013 - 12:48pm

Right on Pope Francis

Thomas Farrelly | 10/15/2013 - 12:58pm

Perhaps someone wiser than I will explain what that was about.

Luis Gutierrez | 10/15/2013 - 1:17pm

I agree with Pope Francis, but either women can be successors of the apostles, or they cannot. In light of the hierarchical constitution of the church, anything short of ordaining women to the priesthood is unsatisfactory as a remedy for the damage done to the entire body of Christ by their exclusion from the priesthood and the episcopate.

Gef Flimlin | 10/15/2013 - 1:26pm

Sorry, but I just can't buy that kind of logic. Woman can't be equal but separate. That is a contradiction of terms. If the Pope's logic was correct, then we would not have nuns either. It's time to face up to the fact that women can lead as well as men in the Church. The Pope has said so many things that I have agreed with since he stepped in, but we will disagree on this one. Pacem In Terra!

Bill Mazzella | 10/15/2013 - 1:50pm

Don't really understand what Francis is saying. The words are too general. It foes appear that it is anti-feminist. The woman who spoke after on this tape was truly outrageous. She rambled making no sense at all and favoring that downer of women PJ II

MARILYN SHERRY | 10/15/2013 - 2:09pm

I have never had a wish to become a priest. Many of my women friends have not either. This issue seems to be overblown in its importance . Why not get women (and men) LAYPEOPLE onto Vatican Commisions to do with family life instead of having a celibate Cardinal in charge.????? I hope for more input to be listened to from the Laity by our new Pope.. Thank you for listening to this idea. Marilyn Sherry (Wife and Mother )

Bill Mazzella | 10/15/2013 - 2:24pm

The whole tape is a propaganda attempt by CNS. Cemented by using Helen Alvare who has been a puppet of the bishops for many years.

Mark day | 10/15/2013 - 2:35pm

Aside from the fact that there is no clear scriptural prohibition of women
priests, there is a fundamental question that needs to be asked.
How can women possibly screw up the church as much as the
men have for the past 20 centuries? I think the mysogenist thinking
of Jerome, Augustine and Thomas Acquinas is well entrenched
in Rome. Unless this question is addressed soon, all the
pope's rave reviews, glowing interviews and utterances will be for
naught. He will be like a shooting star or 4th of July
fireworks Poof and it's all gone......

DONALD CONNOLLY | 10/15/2013 - 2:52pm

If the church is aware of women's "particular sensitivity to 'the things of God,' why has the church not taken advantage of that trait for hundreds of years? Interesting that Francis read from a script -- I wonder who wrote it.

HAROLD ISBELL | 10/15/2013 - 3:18pm

If ever anything begged for a careful and speedy translation, this must be a prime candidate.

Matt Nannery | 10/15/2013 - 3:39pm

This segment told me very little, and was encumbered by unnecessary schlmaltzy pictures and confusing editorializing.
It would be better to publish the Pope's entire presentation or the text thereof and let readers draw their own conclusions. This pope is all about speaking directly to people, not through the rosy lenses of CNS which has done him a disservice here.

Gerri Mackey | 10/15/2013 - 6:31pm

I think I must agree with most of the posts above, but especially with those that deal with the fact that, what I just heard on the video is really quite unclear. I was excited to receive the email and hurried to play the video, but I think I was disappointed in what I heard . . . or actually, what I didn't hear!

Michael Barberi | 10/15/2013 - 7:12pm

Pope Francis' comments were both encouraging and somewhat ambiguous. He spoke of extremes and dangers but his remarks were vague. One could read into them both positive and negative themes but nothing specific or practical especially concerning the role role of women in the Church. At some point, Pope Francis must directly address the many issues plaguing the Church, in particular clericalism, sexual ethics, the role of women in the Church, the divorced and remarried, et al.

Bruce Snowden | 10/15/2013 - 9:09pm

The following is how I understand Pope Francis’ recent dissertation on the Vocation of Women, skillfully delivered in a few words. Almighty God in writing the final chapter of Salvation History with the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus, if anyone was favored it was woman, the feminine mystique, in the person of the Blessed Virgin Mary, conferring on her the highest position, the highest honor in the Church, that of Mother of God, Mother of the Church, far beyond that of Pope, Bishop, Priest, Deacon and the priesthood of the laity, in which Mary shares, in virtue of her Baptism, intrinsic to her Immaculate Conception. Indeed, all Marian prerogatives far exceed any other prerogative dispensed throughout the Church on men

As a result, all women because they are woman, share mystically in the Marian dignity, just as men because they are man share in the ministerial priesthood of Christ because Jesus is man. Woman has been supremely honor by God in singular, inimitable ways , and are entitled to the the highest reverence and respect of the masculine, because of biological and supernatural connection to the Blessed Virgin Mary as woman.

This should elicit from woman deepest humility and profound thanksgiving to God, not pride or self- glorification. It must not become combative towards masculinity but man and woman linked inseparably together by God should and can produce harmonious hormonal compatibility one towards the other lovingly.

The Holy Father said, women have special sensitivity to the things of God. This can happen in many ways. Here’s one interesting way that one woman showed powerful spirituality. Her name was Eliza Vaughan. Mother of 14. Incredibly Six sons became priests, and four daughters became nuns. Of the six priest-sons two were Religious, one a Diocesan priest, one a Bishop, one an Archbishop and one a Cardinal! Three little ones died early on and one child honored Christ in the laity.

Women through nature and Grace share with the Blessed Virgin Mary maternity, but it doesn’t have to be biological, which is only one form of motherhood. Women through nature and Grace inescapably so, are all Mothers in pecto. Listen to what Joseph Cardinal Mindszenty said some sixty-five years ago. “The most important person on earth is a mother. She cannot claim the honor of having built Notre Dame Cathedral. She need not. She has built something more magnificent than any cathedral a a dwelling for an immortal soul and the tiny perfection of her baby’s body. The angels have not ben blessed with such a grace. They cannot share in God’s creative miracle to bring new saints to heaven. Only a human mother can. Mothers are closer to God the Creator than any other creature. God joins forces with mothers n performing this act of creation. What on God’s good earth is more glorious than this, to be a mother?” A biological, or a spiritual mother, with Mary a woman's rightful boast!

Livia Fiordelisi | 10/16/2013 - 7:46am

Bruce Snowden, All baptized persons are called to grow into the image of Christ.

Bruce Snowden | 10/21/2013 - 7:40am

Livia, Sorry for expressing myself so misunderstandably. I tried to stick to the Holy Father theme - the Vocation of Women prototyped in the Blessed Virgin Mary. Yes, along with Blessed Mother men too share in Grace which images us to God, but as the Angel said to Mary she was "Full of Grace" different to the ordinary I'd say. I really have no stomach to get into a dizzying back and forth, so I hope for your sake and for us all, someone will say better what I so deficiently tried to say. Thanks for taking time to .comment and to any one else who might do so. Done. Definitely done!

Bill Mazzella | 10/16/2013 - 12:48pm

Sorry Bruce. But the whole point is that the hierarchy has hid behind Mary in denying rights to women. If you are not aware of the mistreatment of women by the hierarchy then there is nothing to say to you. The point of equality is that women can be as evil or as good as men.

Bruce Snowden | 10/16/2013 - 1:46pm

Mr. Bill, I am so terribly conflicted between my promise and desire not to post again on this topic and the "itch" to speak up, so because the "itch" is driving me nuts, I have to briefly say, you don't seem willing to relish the new day that the dawn of Francis has created, preferring to live in the dark shadows of what used to be, but is now evaporating like a pool of water caught on a speeded-up motion picture camera. So at least by responding I've scratch my "itch" frankly wondering why did I bother? Thanks for scratching your "itch" by commenting on what I've tried to say. Done. Definitely Done!

Carlos Orozco | 10/16/2013 - 2:25pm

I don't see how the ordination of priestesses in the Catholic Church would have a different result than, for example, the Anglican Church: disaster.

PATRICIA KROMMER C.S.J. | 10/22/2013 - 12:24pm

There is no theological impediment to women being priests. Bill, your entry is really appreciated. Mary is a beautiful model. However, putting women on a pedastel is a clever way to dismiss them. And Carlos, I have met women priests in the Episcopal Church. Those I have met are deeply priestly, reverent of others, respected by their male colleagues and I have even met a woman bishop. The split in the Anglican church is not a disaster. It is the result of the human condition. Some can change, and some cannot.

Luis Gutierrez | 10/22/2013 - 1:34pm

With regard to the priestly ordination of women, the door is closed but not locked, and it can be opened at any time by using the power of the keys given by Christ to the Church. The lack of female presence in the hierarchy of the church is doing severe damage to both women and men in both church and society, as it perpetuates the patriarchal mindset of male hegemony. As May Daly pointed out years ago: "The Church has been wounded in its structures, for it has deprived itself of the gifts and insights of more than half of its members. It has been grievously hurt in its members of both sexes, for in a society which welcomes and fosters prejudice, not only is the human potential of the subject group restricted, but the superordinate group also becomes warped in the process."

The exclusively male priesthood is an obstacle to integral human development. It has nothing to do with revealed truth. It is rooted in the same patriarchal culture that corrupted the original unity of man and woman (Cf. Genesis 3:16) and is now disrupting the harmony between humanity and the human habitat. Just as we are now aware that slavery and racism are moral evils, we must become aware that gender discrimination is a moral evil that must be eradicated if solidarity and sustainability are to be attained. The need to reform patriarchal structures applies to both secular and religious institutions. Overcoming patriarchy is a "sign of the times" to the extent that it fosters authentic gender solidarity and nonviolence for the good of humanity and the glory of God. Given the enormous influence of religious traditions, it is especially critical for religious institutions to extirpate any semblance of male hegemony in matters of doctrine and religious practices.

It is hard to imagine Pope Francis, or anyone else, getting the Vatican off the hook gracefully on this issue. But, just like a woman cannot be 50% pregnant, this is an either/or situation. Either a woman can be a successor of the apostles, or she cannot. If the exclusively male priesthood is revealed truth, let's properly define it as such. Else, the church must have the courage and the humility to recognize that doing something wrong for 2000 years is no justification to keep doing it. Just dancing around the issue is no longer credible. Lord have mercy!

Roberta Lavin | 10/22/2013 - 1:57pm

I appreciate what America Magazine and the Pope are attempting to do in this dialogue, but I feel that they are failing in understanding and accepting women as human beings sharing the same human dignity as all other human beings. The benign sexism is clear and yet apparently not to the many in the Church. When I first heard there would be a special edition and that Pope spoke of a theology of women I was encouraged, but the more I read or in this case watch, the more I'm discouraged because little has changed and I cannot see the proposed change.

I wrote today of my thought on where we have come as a country and a Church since that historic meeting in 1848 in Seneca Falls, NY . I submit that human dignity is not supported by separate but equal approaches to spirituality. We learned long ago that there is no such thing as separate and equal. Separation results in subjugation and as women we need to develop our own Declaration of Sentiments as it relates to our Church and our faith.

Luis Gutierrez | 10/22/2013 - 3:11pm

I fully share Roberta's concern. Either women are fully human as Jesus was, or they are not. Benign sexism is no longer credible and is no longer benign. The Catholic Church, including the Vatican, must face the reality that the patriarchal mindset of male hegemony is no longer normative and can no longer be used as an excuse for obsolete practices and defective "doctrines" that constitute a corruption of revealed truth. We are now in the 21st century and living in a post-patriarchal world. If some people want to stay frozen in the past, that is their prerogative. But I hope and pray for the day when the church will become "counter-cultural" with regard to patriarchy.

RICHARD DUBIEL | 10/22/2013 - 6:17pm

So, pray tell, what is the news here? This could have been said by JPII. Nothing new. Nothing has been changed, or will change.

Luis Gutierrez | 10/24/2013 - 2:37pm

Richard, I have no false hopes for the priestly ordination of women in the short term. However, if your comment refers to JPII's apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (1994), my understanding is that it didn't change anything either, and please note that the entire document is written in the past and present tense, so it says nothing about what the church can or cannot do in the future. Ordinatio Sacerdotalis is not an infallible definition of revealed truth. With all due respect for the CDF, it is not an expression of the infallible ordinary magisterium either, since it was not a case of all the bishops teaching in union with the Pope. In fact, it was JPII unilaterally ordering the bishops to stop discussing the issue (note that the letter is addressed to the bishops, not to the entire church). It is a "definitive" statement about the past and the present, but not about the future. In brief, the door is closed but not locked, and it can be opened at any time by the power of the keys given to the Church by Christ. So, never say never ... :-)

PLEASE NOTE: I am not suggesting that JPII, or the CDF, were intentionally trying to mislead people into thinking that Ordinatio Sacerdotalis was a dogmatic definition deserving belief with certainty of faith. I am simply suggesting that we should read the entire document carefully, with an open mind, and without any rigid ideological bias. JPII was a saint and also a philosopher/theologian and a complex man. Would this be the first time that a Pope speaks with both sides of his mouth? Keep also in mind his Theology of the Body (TOB) and his decision to renounce the "Patriarch of the West" title. In the TOB, he wrote:

"Corporality and sexuality are not completely identified. Although the human body, in its normal constitution, bears within it the signs of sex and is, by it's nature, male or female, the fact, however, that man is a "body" belongs to the structure of the personal subject more deeply than the fact that he is in his somatic constitution also male or female."

Question: doesn't it follow that the requirement for priestly ordination is to be a baptized "body-person" ... male or female? Would appreciate an instructive response.