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For Immediate Release - 12th May 2016
Women’s Ordination Worldwide (WOW) welcomes today’s news as a step forward in the right direction and we offer our support to Pope Francis in the setting up of the commission on women deacons. However, the restoration of an ordained women’s diaconate would not alone be a satisfactory progression to including women in all realms of Church leadership, governance, and sacramental ministry. – only ordination to the priesthood and episcopacy could begin to accomplish this.
WOW is grateful to the women religious who asked Pope Francis some challenging questions about the absence of women in our church. We are also grateful to Pope Francis for his honest answer - that there should be openness to considering women deacons but that he doesn’t yet know the full history of women’s leadership in the early Church.
We lament the fact that such a significant part of the story of our faith is not taught in seminaries, and that the contributions and callings of all women leaders in the church, including deacons, continue to be obscured and denied.
We call on all Catholics to model the bravery shown by the women religious in their meeting with Pope Francis and to keep asking why women are excluded from decision-making processes and leadership.
We are disappointed that Pope Francis told the nuns women cannot preach at Mass, because the priest serves “in persona Christi” and therefore only he can do this. We ask, how it can be that Mary Magdalene was chosen by Jesus to be the first preacher of the Gospel news, yet the pope still believes that maleness is the essential qualification to act in memory of Jesus. WOW calls for our Church to model unconditional equality by opening up ministries to all Catholics.
Francis referred to consecrated women as ‘icons of Mary’ whereas the priest is an icon of the apostles and disciples thus reinforcing the impossibility of women priests. We urge Pope Francis, at this time of renewed interest in the history of women in the Church, to take note of the fact that women were also named as disciples and apostles.
WOW will host a ‘Jubilee for Women Priests’ in Rome on June 1st to call for dialogue about full, not partial, equality: womensordinationworldwide.org/a-jubilee-for-women-priests/