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Michael J. O’LoughlinFebruary 05, 2018
Women laugh as they listen to a keynote speaker during a leadership forum for young Catholic women in 2016 at The Catholic University of America in Washington. In dioceses across the U.S., the 300 attendees are now implementing their "action plans," new initiatives inspired by their gifts, interests and leadership skills.(CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Catholic parishes should form outreach groups for women who feel unwelcome at church and strive to make sure women’s voices are heard when parishes make important decisions. Those are the takeaways from some Catholic leaders reacting to a recently published survey of Catholic women in America, which found growing levels of women disengaging from the church along with low-levels of women who agree “very much” that women are involved in the decision-making of their parish.

“Catholics are a family: we’re joined together by our baptism in Christ. Women are at the heart of that family in so many ways, and women's perspectives should be at the heart of conversations about how to build up the Church,” Kim Daniels, a member of the Vatican’s communications advisory body and a former spokeswoman for the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told America in an email.

Ms. Daniels said collecting data to understand the experiences of women in the church is “common sense” and that it “can help us think through how to convey our faith effectively so that we can better reach those we’re not reaching now.”

“The first step in reaching people is to listen to them,” she added.

"Women are at the heart of that family in so many ways, and women's perspectives should be at the heart of conversations about how to build up the Church."

Archbishop John Wester, who heads the archdiocese of Santa Fe, told America in a recent phone interview that he thinks parishes could do a better job of providing space for busy women who might not feel completely welcome at church.

“We live in an era now where both parents are working, or you have single moms who are working, and they’re trying to make ends meet. The kids are more active, they’re always in different clubs and organizations and classes and sports events. So there are all kinds of activities that women are monitoring and supervising. I just think that the religion, the faith, kind of gets lost in the shuffle,” he said.

To ensure that women feel welcome at church, he suggested parishes “reach out to women” and listen to their concerns.

“What are their challenges, what are the things that they're facing these days?” he asked. “Try to listen to them more, and then ask, how can the church help them, and how can we support them?”

Bishop Robert Barron, an auxiliary bishop in Los Angeles and the founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, pointed to the “the Catholic Action model that was so prevalent in the period prior to Vatican II” as a possible model for engaging women.

“Gather people of similar backgrounds, experiences, and formation and teach them the method of ‘see, judge, and act,’” he wrote in an email to America. “So yes, parishes could bring together single mothers, widows, etc., and invite them to understand their lives in light of the Gospel. I would suggest that the leaders of these groups would then comprise a core group of disciples whose prayer, wisdom, and charismatic outreach would be invaluable to pastors and the parish community.”

Bishop Barron said the number of women walking away from the church “represents a serious challenge to evangelization, for, as you indicate, women have traditionally played a crucial role in passing on the faith.”

But, he said, he is “equally concerned about the massive attrition of men, for study after study have indicated that the fidelity of fathers and grandfathers has a substantive impact on the faithfulness of boys and young men.”

The number of women walking away from the church “represents a serious challenge to evangelization,” says Bishops Robert Barron.

When it comes to how women influence decision-making in the church, Archbishop Wester noted that women hold key roles in many dioceses and parishes. But he said at issue is a culture—not unique to the church—that might not take the insights of a woman as seriously as a man’s when it comes to big decisions.

“I sense that women still face barriers. Not that we intend there to be, but there are,” he said. “You'll notice at meetings, in the parish meetings, our parish councils, or liturgy committees, that a woman’s voice doesn't carry as much weight as a man's voice. I think that’s true in our culture.”

He said others may disagree with him, that if women are present there are not additional problems to rectify, but he contends that “deep down, it's hard to quantify it, it's hard to measure it, but I sense that it's true.”

According to the survey, just 18 percent of women felt “very much” that women are involved in the decision-making of their parish, with another 35 percent saying they somewhat agree.

“We're all children of God, and because of our Blessed Mother, we have so many connections to lifting up the importance of women, and so I think the church needs to take leadership in that.”

Bishop Barron said that in his experience, as a priest in Chicago and now as a bishop on the West Coast, women are heavily involved in the church’s decision making processes, though he added, “ It’s certainly true that, given the hierarchical constitution of the Church, the final call is typically made by the pastor or the bishop.”

Archbishop Wester said lay people, both women and men, need to take on leadership positions, saying “too few laity have a say in what goes on in their parishes.”

“Pastoral councils have to be more dynamic. They have take a leadership role. They have to be an integral part of how a parish is run, and they have to work closely with the pastor, and in a dialogical way, in a way that's complementary, and with the pastor really listening to them and working with them as they take leadership in the parish,” he said.

Regarding the crisis of women facing sexual harassment and the #MeToo movement, Archbishop Wester said the church should be a leader in demonstrating respect for women.

“I think the church has, by her very nature, a deep respect for women, because of our respect for life, and our belief that we're all created equally in God's eyes,” he said. “We're all children of God, and because of our Blessed Mother, we have so many connections to lifting up the importance of women, and so I think the church needs to take leadership in that.”

Bishop Barron noted that 90 percent of Catholic women said in the survey that they had not experienced sexism in the church, which made him “wonder whether any other organization could put up numbers as good as these.”

About 60 percent of Catholic women said they support ordaining women as deacons.

“Would 90% of women in the corporate world, in Hollywood, in government, in education say that they never experienced sexism? I doubt it,” he added. “I think these numbers indicate that, though we still have a lot to do to address the problems of sexism and misogyny in the Church, we have indeed come a long way.”

About 60 percent of Catholic women said they support ordaining women as deacons, an idea currently being studied by an international commission at the request of Pope Francis.

Archbishop Wester said he would welcome the idea—provided the church discovers it has the authority to make such a move. (The Catholic Church does not ordain women as priests, saying it does not have the authority to make such a move. The pope’s commission is currently studying whether the church historically ordained women as deacons and if such a move would be licit today.)

“First and foremost we have to ask, ‘Is it possible?’” Archbishop Wester said. “But, having said that, I would be delighted if the church would say, ‘We see now that we can do it.’ I would find that welcome news, because I think this is an area where women could serve the church very capably.”

For her part, Ms. Daniels said that holding up examples of women providing strong leadership in the church will go a long way toward encouraging other women to remain a part of the institution.

“Just look at the women profiled in this issue: they're models of how to live mercy, and faithfulness, and life in solidarity with others,” she said. “It’s this kind of witness to self-giving love—not expressed in abstract terms, but lived out among the particular circumstances of real people—that keeps people Catholic, and brings others home to the Church.”

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Becky Schmitt
6 years 4 months ago

90% of women in the church have not experienced sexism? I am baffled by that statistic in this survey. That certainly does not reflect what I hear in my Catholic congregation.

Thomas Severin
6 years 4 months ago

I questioned this statistic also. The only way it might be true is, if the majority of women who did experience sexism, have left the church and therefore were not available to take the survey. Women who are in the work place are not as free to walk away from situations in which they experience sexism as are women in Catholic churches.

Tim O'Leary
6 years 4 months ago

Thomas - the survey included 53% women who self-identified as Catholic but who had left in terms of practice (rarely or never going to Mass or Confession). So, these non-practicing women would contradict your hypothesis (if you are willing to listen to them).

Thomas Severin
6 years 4 months ago

Wouldn't the fact that they are non-practicing mean that they would be less likely to be in a situation in which they might experience some form of sexism? The sub-groups that said that they did experience sexism were those who were in the convent or seminary or who attended Catholic high schools or colleges, thus affording them more occasions to experience sexism first hand from members of the clergy.
So the bishop, priding himself on the fact that 90% of the respondents said that they had not experienced sexism, may point to the sad reality that these women's choice not to be active within the Church could well be the reason that they hadn't experienced sexism. It appears that there is a direct correlation between lack of involvement within the Church and a lack of experience of sexism and vice versa, i.e. the more involvement, the greater the incidence of sexism.

Andrew Wolfe
6 years 4 months ago

Apparently you're an outlier.

Nora Bolcon
6 years 4 months ago

That is because it is completely false and no other unbiased survey on the same issues give anything close to that good a number. In other stats and surveys far more than half have experienced sexism. This is why biased surveys are so harmful. This survey was contrived to get answers bishops wanted from women so it didn't ask about women seeking priesthood and its results for women using NFP border on being hilariously incorrect compared to all other data. If you saw the parameters of the survey when they first furnished it on America, they only asked 1,500 women total in this national survey. This amounts to 30 women per state, and they wanted it to cover all age groups and women who are not at all regular church goers and those who go all the time. We do not know how many of which age group the women interviewed amounted to either. I and others have already commented on how poorly the survey was done. The information is simply put, extremely erroneous. I would put no weight on anything that came from this survey.

Jeannette Mulherin
6 years 4 months ago

Ha! I'm sure young women all over the world have seen the Vatican's silencing of former Irish President, Mary McAleese and said to themselves, "Wow! Now that's a church that respects women!"

Battista Castigglia
6 years 4 months ago

Interesting. I looked at 5 different parish homepages at random and nearly every organization in these parishes are spearheaded by,,,,,,,DRUMROLL,,,,,,,,,, WOMEN! Mary, Mother of God, please help these poor ladies in their need.

Jeannette Mulherin
6 years 4 months ago

News flash Battista: Those women are in jobs that the men don't want to do, being paid poverty wages to do them. And who makes the final decisions in your parish church after all? Drum roll......the pastor, who is always a man! Unless you saw a website that featured a woman giving a homily or reading the Gospel from the altar? No? That's because......drum roll.....they're viewed as inferior to men!

Battista Castigglia
6 years 4 months ago

Drum roll., I guess you'll have to blame Jesus for deciding He chose men to be the priests He wanted for His Church. No-one said women are inferior to men . That's your own perception. Each has their own role to play in the Church, and Jesus knew what he was doing. Where in the history of the Church do you hear Mary complaining that she feels inferior because Jesus did not designate her as a priest? Where? Let me guess,, that was then,,, and this is now, right? Things have changed, right?
If you truly want to grab the ear of the Lord, then practice humility. True spirituality means we ALL accept our cross, whatever it may be. " Take up your cross and follow me" . Their are no if's, ands, or buts to Jesus' words. Perhaps their is a second or third meaning to these words you are privy to? Their is not a single saint, church doctor , apostle or other who would disagree with this rule of guidance. And yes, men have as many difficult crosses to bear as women, except your anger prevents you from knowing such. May the Lord and the Blessed Virgin have mercy on you.

Carolyn Disco
6 years 4 months ago

Good heavens, I've often wondered which qualities of ministry attach to the male over the female sex organs. Sex is the distinguishing difference after all, so there must be required features which males possess that are lacking in women.

Tim O'Leary
6 years 4 months ago

Carolyn - It seems you are saying that women have nothing unique to bring to the ministry other than their female sex organs. You are essentially reducing sexuality to sex organs, when the differences are in every single cell of a human body and moreover, is given deep spiritual significance in the Scriptures. God had a much higher view of the role of women in His Creation. I can imagine you complaining at the Coronation of Our Lady in heaven "what's so special about her."

Carolyn Disco
6 years 4 months ago

Actually, Tim, I'd likely be asking, "What's wrong that You disallow and exclude your mother from consecrating the Eucharist? What is she lacking "in every single cell" of her human body that disqualifies her, when every single cell of only a male body is acceptable?

Integrated males and females have qualities of both sexes as part of their identity. It's not that authority, humility, aggression, compassion, gentleness, leadership, and caring are assigned based on sex organs, which seems the underlying assumption of segregated roles. All of us as human beings are capable of exercising those qualities. Are only some of us part of the priestly people?

Women priests are coming, and so are married priests; though the second will be first. Women last, I suspect, and then (drumroll) married women priests. I don’t worry about any of these. Demography is destiny, and the Holy Spirit seems busy creating the circumstances necessary for change. Praise be!

Nora Bolcon
6 years 4 months ago

I agree except for the last part. We, the laity must protest profusely any attempt to allow married men priesthood until women are given full priestly ordination. Otherwise, we set the grave sin of gender segregation in motion and this cannot be allowed to happen. Married priests after women priests is the only way we don't cause more injustice and damage to the human dignity of all women and we need to fight for this aggressively. I know I will. I hope you and others will do so too.

Nora Bolcon
6 years 4 months ago

Tim, you are speaking in sexism or the language of misogyny. Women are no more or less nurturing, better parents, intuitive than men and men are no more aggressive, strong willed, decisive than women. Science has already debunked this nonsense despite the disappointed bishops of our church. In fact, wide spread research recently concluded on gender out of Britain has basically proved that both men and women are easily brain molded to believe in stereotypes of all kinds and that even though there may be slight differences in the from of different gender's brains, the facts are that different groups of men and women act and think more differently than men and women do. So by this template, it is more reasonable to discriminate based race than gender when refusing people sacramental priesthood since men are proven in many ways to be more different in groups from each other than they are from women.

Nora Bolcon
6 years 4 months ago

Well, Jesus didn't call the apostles to be priests and he also called Mary Magdalene to be The Apostle to the Apostles. So your argument is flawed from the start.

If you told a black man that he had equal but different roles to play in our church, and the role he got was the one that has no voice and no vote on how anything is done,, and the one that deems his body to be not sacred enough to be ordained the same as his white brothers, I think he would tell you that you are a racist person who clearly hates black people. I would agree with him. So when you support treating women this way, it is logical to state that you are a sexist person who clearly hates women. I have sadly met many self-loathing, women hating women, in our church. Misogynistic ordination practices actually powerfully support women hating themselves and their own bodies and other women's bodies too.

When you or our church judge and condemn a person's body as not suitable for decision making at the top heights of our church or for its most sacramental ministries, you are definitely treating that person as less valuable. No amount of nonsense will ever change that fact and truth. This is why Jesus warned us to keep his great commandment above all other rules - We must love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love our neighbor as ourselves and never treat anyone any differently than we wish to be treated ourselves. The only way a bishop can follow and not break this commandment is by ordaining women equally to men when they come to him for ordination to priesthood. No one called to priesthood should be kept from it based on their body unless they have a clear handi-cap that prevents them from performing the tasks of the ministry of a priest. Women are fully capable of performing all the tasks that priests perform. We need to stop the hate and ordain women priests, bishops and make them cardinals immediately.

Lisa Weber
6 years 4 months ago

There is not a woman on this earth considered qualified to preach at Mass simply because she is a woman. I am not arguing for women to be ordained to the priesthood, but women do need to be deacons, simply so that they can preach at Mass. It is impossible to lead without being able to speak publicly. Catholics most frequently gather for Mass and that is where they hear Catholic leaders speak. Currently, none of them are women.

The parish organizations are headed by women, true. But most of them are service organizations with the power to decide the brand of coffee to buy and not much other power. God, please help these poor ladies put up with their thankless jobs.

Tim O'Leary
6 years 4 months ago

Lisa - I have heard a lot of men preaching at Mass that I would definitely not classify as evincing evidence of leadership. But, look at the heroines of the Catholic Church, like Mother Teresa, Gianna Beretta Molla, Dorothy Day, Mother Angelica, Edith Stein, the Little Flower, Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Siena, Clare of the Franciscans, St. Barbara, thousands of others, and millions less well known. Now, that is leadership! Be inspired by them and forget the clericalism. Most clerics have thankless jobs too (except that the fringe benefits are out of this world).

Nora Bolcon
6 years 4 months ago

Tim - Theresa the Little Flower stated publicly that she always felt called to ordained priesthood. Women throughout history have made this same claim. If it is clerical for women to admit to a genuine calling to ordained priesthood in our church than it is equally clericalism and sin for men to admit to the same thing. Jesus condemned ever treating one group of people differently or less than another based on their flesh.

Lisa Weber
6 years 4 months ago

Tim O'Leary - Poor preaching by men is no reason to exclude women from preaching. Perhaps having women preach would raise the bar for all who preach. Personally, I am tired of the "drudgery with a smile" model for Catholic women. Women in the Gospel stories are a far better model for women who want to follow Jesus.

Nora Bolcon
6 years 4 months ago

And they will never lead beyond this by being made a no authority deacon. You want women to have decision making power they need to be priests and bishops so why are you not supporting women being made priests?

Lisa Weber
6 years 3 months ago

I don't support women being made priests and bishops for reasons too lengthy to explain here. Men have never needed the cooperation or consent of women to govern - that is probably why Jesus did not indicate that women should be priests. He did give women authority to preach by appearing to women first after the Resurrection. Women do need to have the right to preach in the church, though they do not necessarily need to be priests or bishops.

Tim O'Leary
6 years 4 months ago

Great points from Bishop Barron: “So yes, parishes could bring together single mothers, widows, etc., and invite them to understand their lives in light of the Gospel." He doesn't weigh in on the flaws of the opinion poll (53% of the women never or rarely set foot in the Catholic Church) but puts front and center the Gospel in any outreach.

As Pope Francis said several times, the Church is not an NGO or a social support network. It is the mystical body of our Lord, providing the only sacraments that are efficacious in transforming our lives with supernatural grace. Jesus said, in John 6:53, that we cannot have eternal life unless we " eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood." It is shocking to me that 53% of the women in the poll have walked away from this food of eternal life. I can only hope they do not know what they have done and that the Lord will be merciful.

Nora Bolcon
6 years 4 months ago

Tim - When it is our lies about Christ being sexist which he isn't as he never said women could not be priests, bishops, cardinals or popes. It is us who need to worry about how will God treat us for misleading these women away from Christ and their salvation.

Vince Killoran
6 years 4 months ago

If women are not involved in decision making--as a majority report-- then that is sexism.

Tim O'Leary
6 years 4 months ago

Vince - Our society today is so confused about sexuality that they are forever disgruntled by statistical imbalances. A difference of roles and numbers cannot alone mean sexism, no more than a preponderance of black basketball players or Hispanic baseball players or white tennis players implies racism. The differences are even more stark when one looks how the sexes sort them selves out in life, as long as they are left to their own choices and not regimented into a false equality. I bet in your own family there was not equality in ever type of decision or role made, even if the difference were made in a loving environment. The Church should be most like a family, with different roles as in a fully functioning and loving family. Jesus knew this, when he confined the priestly/Petrine role to men and the Marian role to women. It is only a grasping for power that has made cultural & spiritual differences seem unjust.

Nora Bolcon
6 years 4 months ago

Tim - you seriously need to pick up and actually read a bible or one gospel even. Clearly, you have not done so. Jesus never confined priestly/Petrine roles to men and marian roles to women. In fact, he never ordained anyone a priest and none of the original apostles claims, in any of their letters, to be a priest outside of the royal priesthood that we, all men and women, equally belong to. Jesus never told his female followers to follow Mary's example but instead told his mother Mary and all his male and female followers to equally follow his example and become like him.

Lisa Weber
6 years 4 months ago

Tim O'Leary - Jesus did not set up the Christian church as a family. Reverting to Jewish patriarchy is the mistake that needs to be corrected if women are ever to have a role in the church. There is no role for women in the church if they are allowed only family roles. Thank you, but I neither need nor want a mother. I am an adult and the last thing I need is a mother. I don't actually need or want someone to be a sister either. I have sisters who fulfill the sister role quite nicely. I could find reasons to want women in community roles - elder, deacon, sage, or prophet are some possibilities. When women claim their adulthood and the church recognizes that women are adults in the community, we will have some progress toward women having their proper role in the church. Until then, we will have the massive attrition of young women because they are unwilling to be treated as children for their entire lives. Young men go where the young women are, so the church will lack for both young women and men.

Christopher Lochner
6 years 4 months ago

It would have been hilarious to include woman lacking in high finances in this study. I mean, involve woman who Are Poor? Goodness, such a bizarre Christian concept, ehh? Now very well placed women should become more involved because, well, MONEY. Equality actually is the same reverence for all who are well connected whether rich men AND woman. Jesus would sup with them 'cause VIP, you know? Whenever we attempt to become oh so more inclusive of one group we exclude another. Or is this "Animal Farm" where we are all Christian, just some more than others? As a parishoner and on staff, I have NEVER been involved in a parish where EVERYTHING was not about connections, others need not apply. Are the bishops this unaware? The answer is obvious! Gracious, how the search for Christ inevitably leads to a grasping for individual power. My diatribe is not aimed at people with money as it is in pointing out the institutional influence it has, now, as always. This survey is simply more of the same.

Nora Bolcon
6 years 4 months ago

Where to start on this new article on women in our church based on the same recent survey by "America Magazine" with research data from "CARA"?

I have decided to comment twice on this new article because two important issues arise in this article that are unrelated. The below is my first issue and comment:

What I am gleaning from this article is seemingly an attempt by "America" to justify why CARA made a biased survey rather than an unbiased survey recently regarding women's desires in our church but the tone is a bit strange for my comfort.

My point is this "America Magazine" should have been more honest with its survey and stated clearly what its survey's actual intention was meant to support. Perhaps the title of the survey should not have been "What Catholic Women Really Want" but instead "What Catholic Women Really Want That Catholic Bishops are Willing to Hear About". This second choice would have been more honest about the survey's actual purpose.

Unfortunately, I believe the reason the title did not state the 2nd more honest title is due to the fact that here exists an underlying purpose to the survey. This underlying purpose was to support a cause of deception, i.e. to pretend to ask what women want but gear the questions to get answers bishops want while giving the laity the impression that there is no intentional bias against any answers that might come to the respondent's minds. For instance, if a women says, no I don't want deacons, I want women ordained priests, this question was not asked so therefore it will not be inputted into the survey results. The fact that we are being given the excuse, from a bishop, that seems meant to have us all believe that there was good cause to never ask women do they want women ordained equally to men and priests, reveals this underlying purpose. This is what can be properly titled "Propaganda 101".

This is an insulting tactic, to use surveys as propaganda vehicles. It is insulting to all laity and especially to women who were led to believe that America and CARA actually wanted to know what has caused so many Catholic Women to avoid church. I debated writing this comment because I bought a subscription to America Magazine because they seemed above this kind of business. However, after looking at the sad comments and damaged beliefs that have arrived from this survey which is full of errors, I decided I had better make the comments after all.

This survey offered many erroneous results compared to similar surveys on same subject matter due to its various biased questions. Ordination was only one area that it failed to offer authentic results.

It is a real shame in my opinion. If America and Cara had chosen to perform a real and honest survey, and included a much larger amount of Catholic Women, on the subject matter "What Women Really Want in Catholicism", and allowed all honest and open answers from its respondents to be recorded, it could have indeed been a very important survey and highly constructive for the laity and our church leaders, despite their not taking much pleasure in some of the results.

My advice to "America Magazine" and "CARA" is to choose to be brave. Go and do the real thing next time. If you do ever choose to do the real thing, I and many others will thank you for it.

My second comment on this article will come later on.

Randal Agostini
6 years 4 months ago

Archbishop Wester said lay people, both women and men, need to take on leadership positions, saying “too few laity have a say in what goes on in their parishes.”
This is a statement in fact, but unfortunately it is not believed. The main resource of the Church is not the clergy, but the laity. The Laity has to be trusted to assume a greater role in Church affairs. The Clergy should monitor to maintain the "faithfulness" of thought and deed. Women, especially mothers carry a bigger burden than men in the respect that child rearing is a twenty four hour occupation. The church has to be relevant to these women - to meet them where they are in their lives. The clergy too often behave like men under siege, worried about money and image and legal liabilities. Men of God are not burdened by such baggage - they only see the opportunities, through the eyes of God, who provides the Grace to "achieve" the Word.

Peggy Frey
6 years 4 months ago

“I sense that women still face barriers. Not that we intend there to be, but there are,” he said. “You'll notice at meetings, in the parish meetings, our parish councils, or liturgy committees, that a woman’s voice doesn't carry as much weight as a man's voice. I think that’s true in our culture.” He said others may disagree with him, that if women are present there are not additional problems to rectify, but he contends that “deep down, it's hard to quantify it, it's hard to measure it, but I sense that it's true.” Archbishop Webster
So, all you Archbishops out there, and survey purveyors, I decided to do my own informal survey of the barriers women still face in the Archdiocese where I live, and in the local parish I attend.
On the Archdiocesan Administrative Page on the archdiocesan website, I found the following offices and agencies listed, which are instrumental in making all the important decisions in the Archdiocese. The offices include: the Office of the Archbishop, the Office of the vicar General, the Office of the Chancellor, the Office of the vicar Judicial, the Leadership Team, Council of priests, Deans, Board of consulters, Finance Council, Priests ‘Personnel Board, Catholic Community Foundation, Inc. Board of Trustees, and Deacons Personnel Board.
I counted 81 male names, which includes priests and lay men; I counted 8 female names, one of whom was the Chancellor (whatever that is, token woman presumably) and the other 7 are executive assistants.
I looked at the staff of my local parish, and this included four men (priest/laymen/deacons) and one woman who is the executive assistant/events coordinator.
I think I can safely extrapolate from this that women don’t have any say in any decision-making process in the Archdiocese or at a local level; so, yes, Archbishop Webster, you are quite correct in saying “that a woman’s voice doesn’t carry as much weight as a man’s voice.” Probably because a woman’s voice isn’t represented. Funny thing, you can’t hear silent voices from invisible women.
I don’t believe the 90% statistic, that women have not experienced sexism in the church. Sexism is rampant in the Catholic Church. Women are basically invisible and aren’t given a voice to report their own experiences and contribute to important decisions concerning themselves in the Catholic Church.

Nora Bolcon
6 years 4 months ago

Yes - all of this is true and will remain true until women have all the same opportunities and ministries and sacraments made equally available to them as they are to their brothers. Misogyny starts with unequal ordination and will remain in our church as long as ordination is not equally open to women as men and at all levels i.e until women are being made priests, bishops, cardinals and popes. The End.

Nora Bolcon
6 years 4 months ago

This is my second main comment on this article which brings up many troubling issues.

This is a very long comment because I believe many Catholics don't realize the Gospels do not support the exclusion of women from priesthood or any ministry or form of leadership in our church. So I have listed many verses to support the truth on this subject.

What this article and its bishop's statements should make all good Catholics question is should the hierarchy and even the Pope(s) be allowed to demand we laity or clergy do harm ourselves, or support continued obvious harmful acts being done towards groups of our sisters and brothers in the Church without support found in any Gospel for such acts? What should we consider when presented with this demand? What should we do? How should we react?

Presently, we, the laity and leadership of the Roman Catholic Church, are fully aware of the negative and extremely harmful, or "Bad Fruits", which exist within religious sexism, and also exist in sexism outside of religion, and on a global scale. Many surveys and statistic from secular, religious and church sources have indicated quite clearly that sexism , especially sexism supported by religion, literally equate to the following results: greater amounts of poverty, violence, forced polygamy, rape, forced illiteracy, slavery, murder, incest, sex trafficking, kidnapping, torture, genital mutilation, child abuse - sexual and non-sexual, and including the abuse within Catholicism, terrorism, abortion, suicide and even war. Meanwhile there is no "Pro" category or "Good Fruits" category to be found to support sexism within any religion. Sexism is detrimental to the religions which support it in their laws and structures as much as it is highly destructive outside of religion. Unfortunately, sexism outside of religion has most often been tracked back to religious sexism as its birthplace. So if we don't get rid of it in religion first, it will never really leave secular society either.

Another obvious negative fruit of religious sexism is how it degrades the sense of wellbeing and worth a person feels about themselves. This comes about as the women are told God wants them treated less, and voiceless, and sacramentally deficient from birth, but that this clearly lesser treatment isn't really less, even though it feels that way. Then the women are told it is just a different kind of equality (A kind of equality no man would ever seek for himself.)
so they have no sane reason to be upset about its continuation.

We are losing more and more young men and women who can't believe any true Messiah would treat women as subordinate to men. Our youth leave, risking their eternal life, as they do, because they often not only leave the Church but also start to doubt the Gospel of Christ is anything more than a bad fable of misogyny too. We are accountable for what we preach and for how we introduce the gospel to others. We could well be asked to pay a real price for these misled souls. Jesus Christ might ask us to answer to him regarding these biased teachings since he never taught us to support sexism, or teach, or treat, or ordain women any differently or less than men. We are accountable to God for these souls who have left.

Below are the Gospel Conflicts with our Church Teaching:

1 "The church is not able to ordain women priests, she has not found any such ability within herself, so therefore it is impossible to ordain women priests."

There is no support anywhere in the entire bible for this teaching above.

What the Gospel actually does state?:
Luke 1:37 When Gabriel the archangel was questioned by St. Mary regarding far more incomprehensible things than ordaining women priests, this was his response : For with God nothing shall be impossible.

So can women be ordained and created priests, bishops, cardinals and popes? Yes - 37For with God nothing shall be impossible.

2. Per Pope Francis, "as for the question of ordaining women priests, the door is closed, the church has already spoken and the answer is no."

There is also no support anywhere in the entire bible for this above teaching and statement as truth either.

What do the Gospels actually state?:

Matt 7:7-8 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

So even if the pope says the door is closed on women's priestly ordination - is it still possible for women to be ordained same as men to priesthood and all other ministries -

YES - Luke 11:7- 10: And the one inside answers, ‘Do not bother me. My door is already shut and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up to provide for him because of his friendship, yet because of the man’s persistence, he will get up and give him as much as he needs. 9 So I tell you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.…

3. Stated by various popes and bishops "We do not have history proving that women were ever ordained priests so therefore we cannot assume it is acceptable to ordain women to priesthood ever. "

FYI - Neither the bible or the Gospels recommend we follow proven history over gospel instruction in deciding how to treat one another, or what sacramental laws should be made.

That being said, it is more likely than not that women were actually ordained priests in the earlier centuries since there were female presbyters. However, since our church intentionally destroyed 5 times the historical writings than it currently has, in order to hide church behaviors and traditions it wanted discontinued, in the future, we have no idea whether or not history would have proven women were ordained priests, bishops or not. We must not reward the destroyers of history by ignoring the facts regarding these great acts of destruction by our church's past leadership. Women in leadership roles and proof of ordained women would have been the type of information these earlier church leaders would have wanted destroyed, especially after 600 AD.

What does the Gospel say:

when Mary sat by our Lord's feet listening to Jesus teach the apostles and disciples, and Martha complained she should be helping her serve instead, Jesus replied, Luke 10: 41 “Martha, Martha,” “you are worried and upset about many things. 42 But only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, and it will not be taken away from her.”

4. Another excuse from the hierarchy: "The priest must be in the same form of Jesus physically in order to represent the sacrament as a sign properly since sacraments are symbols to the world." To be In Persona Christi one must be male like Jesus.

Again, nowhere in the bible does this above teaching exist. Also, this teaching would equally support racism as a proper bias against ordaining non-caucasions to priesthood since Jesus was a Jew in the flesh and therefore caucasion, and not black or Asian.

What does the Gospel and Bible say:

John 6:63
The Spirit gives life; the flesh profits nothing.

1 Samuel 16:7
for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

Acts 10:34
So Peter opened his mouth and said: "Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.

Lastly, but MOST importantly Jesus gives us His 2 commands which show precisely how we are to treat God and each other above all other advice, laws or traditions: These commandments are so important, they exist in all four Gospels as spoken by Christ himself to all his apostles and disciples:

Matt 22:36
36 Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

Matt 7:12
In everything, then, do to others as you would have them do to you. For this is the essence of the Law and the prophets.

Luke 6:31
31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Mark 12:30-31
30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

John 13:34-35
34A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.”

Since in Matt 7:12 we see how Jesus connects same treatment with loving one's neighbor and how the treatment of one's neighbor is equaled to loving them and equated to being half of what all the Law and Prophets hang on, and since the command to love or treat all your neighbors the same is only 2nd to Loving God, we know Jesus would never want any group of his followers treated differently or less based on their flesh.

So we are now at the time when some very important questions of conscience need to be asked of ourselves by ourselves and each other:




A warning to our Leaders:

Popes and bishops try to continue the oppression and unfair treatment of women in our church because they believe this gives them greater control. However, the reverse is true. The more the laity are faced with having to choose to follow The Gospel against what our church leaders demand, the more they are placed in these terrible dilemmas, the less respect they will have for their shepherds and religious leaders. This is a very grave issue, as the laity need guidance from trustworthy, knowledgeable and just leaders. So this refusal to repent of past sins with our church's stand on women, and some other areas, will only weaken the leadership of our church, over time, as they become less and less respected by the people, and therefore weaken our people along with them.

This weeks' Gospel, on Tuesday, spelled out the sin we see present in the current situation:

Mark 7:7-13

(Jesus) He responded to the Pharisees ,
"Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites,
as it is written:

This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
In vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines human precepts.

You disregard God's commandment but cling to human tradition."

He went on to say,
"How well you have set aside the commandment of God
in order to uphold your tradition!

For Moses said,
Honor your father and your mother,
and Whoever curses father or mother shall die.
Yet you say,
'If someone says to father or mother,
"Any support you might have had from me is qorban"'
(meaning, dedicated to God),
you allow him to do nothing more for his father or mother.

You nullify the word of God
in favor of your tradition that you have handed on.
And you do many such things."

Ellen B
6 years 4 months ago

Am I the only one who noticed the article focused only on women with children? Married women, single mothers, widows.... no mention of single women (non-mother). Sounds like the people speaking to this study are only interested in the offspring, not women.

Nora Bolcon
6 years 4 months ago

Good point! At least about this article. They survey was asked to single women too but the questions were tweaked to gain answers more in line with what bishops find palatable.

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