From: Kathy Redig, RCWP
Pastor of All Are One
Roman Catholic Church
The following letter was recently put together by Roman Catholic Women Priests (RCWP) concerning the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and I share it with your readers today:
Roman Catholic women priests believe that the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI could be a positive sign of hope for renewal in the Catholic Church. Hope that the Church will truly become more inclusive, universal and diverse. Hope that it will truly become open and affirming of all Catholics, not just those espousing a particular kind of orthodoxy.
Women in the Church have had a difficult time during the reigns of Benedict XVI and John Paul II. Both popes excommunicated women ordained as priests and the male priests who support us, equating women’s ordination to the sexual abuse of children by priests as equally grave in its degree of sinfulness. Additionally, the two popes instituted policies mandating that anyone wishing to work in a Catholic institution must promise that, among other things, they do not and will not support the ordination of women. Catholics in good standing have, in fact, been directed not to even speak about women’s ordination. Essentially, Catholics throughout the world have been told to “form” their consciences to include the hierarchical oppression of one half of the church.
In contrast, Roman Catholic women priests have been prophetically leading the way toward renewing the church. Our worshipping communities flourish because Catholic people have said enough is enough; they are ready for change. They want to see women priests and women in leadership roles in the church. They can no longer make sense of a Vatican hierarchy that has treated our religious sisters—the nuns—disrespectfully, has excommunicated or sanctioned our religious prophets, sanctioned many renowned theologians, and has continually covered up sex abuse of minors by priests.
Many people can no longer accept the antiquated dictates of a male hierarchy, which reflects the ancient patriarchy of Rome. It continues today as a sexist model that is reflected in many cultures and religions, for treating women as inferior, unequal and to be dominated by males. The people are ready for change that reflects the realities of the equality of women in the 21st Century.
Our hope and prayer for the conclave of cardinals is that they will exercise wisdom in choosing the next pope who will lead by listening to the sensus fidelium. If the conclave and the pope that emerges ignore the equality of women and their pastoral needs, they will further disenfranchise faithful women who conscientiously serve the church. The consequences for the church would be disastrous. The Cardinals must be acutely aware of the Holy Spirit’s voice in the voices of the faithful, who are the Church.
Roman Catholic Women Priests (RCWP) is an international movement within the Roman Catholic Church. The mission of Roman Catholic Women Priests-USA is to prepare, ordain in Apostolic Succession, and support women, primarily, who are called by the Holy Spirit and their communities to a renewed priestly ministry rooted in justice and faithfulness to the Gospel.