Catholicism Excludes Female Spirit (Ottawa Citizen)

Catholicism excludes female Spirit
The Ottawa Citizen
Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Virginia Lafond says claims by the Catholic Church that men and women are equal before God are not reflected in practice, such as the church's refusal to allow women to become priests. 

Archbishop Marcel Gervais's response to the Ask the Religion Experts question ("Does your faith tradition teach that men and women are equal before God, and how is that reflected in the structure and practices of your community?" July 27) is testament to the muddled reasoning behind the institutionalized patriarchy in the Roman Catholic Church.

Though the church sometimes claims that men and women are equal before God, it does not teach this consistently nor does it practise this. The archbishop could have included some of the nitty-gritty telling detail -- for example, from the 1976 Declaration of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Inter Insigniores, which among other things advises that "the priest must have a 'natural resemblance' to Christ, and the male sex is constitutive of this resemblance." So much for Paul's teaching (Galatians 3:28) that "In Christ, there is no ... male or female. All are one in Christ Jesus!"

The Archbishop cites the Spirit at work in the church. He, of course, does not acknowledge that the patriarchs of the church have been unsuccessful in keeping the Spirit caged in its corner, as it were. Women continue to identify and respond to their calls to priesthood, and others of us are with them, working and praying for reform on this and other issues.

In fact, here in Ottawa, the second international ecumenical Women's Ordination Worldwide (WOW) network, in partnership with the Canadian Catholic Network for Women's Equality (CNWE), will be hosting WOW 2005 at Carleton University in July 2005. (Further details can be had at This too is proof of the Spirit working in our midst so that women can achieve their rightful, adult, and equal place in the church.

Virginia Lafond,

Co-chair, WOW 2005 host committee