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Women in Church leadership roles

In The Pope Video for October 2020, the missionary month, Pope Francis calls for the promotion of greater integration of the lay faithful, especially women, in areas of responsibility in the Church. The Pope’s intention is entrusted to the entire Catholic Church through the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network » (which includes the Eucharistic Youth Movement – EYM).

For the Holy Father, it is essential for women to have a more relevant presence, because they “tend to be left aside.” Francis has made many gestures to give momentum to this desire to give women greater weight in the Church. For example, in 2016 he elevated the memorial of Mary Magdalene to the rank of a liturgical feast. In the text of the new Mass’s preface, the saint is defined as the “Apostle of the Apostles.” He took this decision in order to highlight the importance of this woman, the first who saw the face of the Lord after his Resurrection from among the dead, the first whom the risen Jesus called by name, and the first to receive from Jesus Himself the mission of announcing his Resurrection. Similarly, Francis, since the beginning of his pontificate, has named more and more women to roles of responsibility in the Church.

Dr Linda Ghisoni, Under-Secretary for the Lay Faithful, reflects: “In the October 2020 video dedicated to the mission of the laity in the Church, the Holy Father begins by speaking about Baptism. This is very important because it allows us to understand that the desire to have greater participation on the part of laity—and of women in particular—in areas of responsibility of the Church should not be interpreted as if it were a sociological project, or a desire to ensure greater quotas for power sharing between women and men, or between laity and clergy. In other words, it’s not a demand for the opportunity to obtain jobs. Indeed, if we take cognisance of the meaning of our Baptism, we will understand what our place in the Church is: for the Church to be itself, it cannot do without the specific contributions of laity, of women, who by vocation are an integral part of it.”

David Stewart SJ, who ministers at Stamford Hill parish in London, reflects in Living Prayer 2020 ». He writes: “The full, active participation and leadership of the laity, sacramentally mandated in baptism, is not a devolved power! There remains a male power-culture in the Church, presenting as clericalism or hierarchicalism, at odds with what we’re meant to be, all of us, in response to the One who came not to be served but to serve. So, together, let us pray!”

Click on the video link to watch The Pope Video.