Image courtesy of Catholic Church of England and Wales
By Herb Silverman
There’s an elephant roaming through the Vatican these days, but apparently the pope hasn’t noticed. Its name is Women.
Pope Francis recently called for a two-week meeting of Catholic bishops to consider matters related to “the family.” The pope publicly encouraged the bishops to speak openly on family issues without fear of censure. Of course, the bishops are all men. It seems that women’s thoughts would be irrelevant, though women do tend to be present in almost every family.
I wish I could be cautiously optimistic that this “open” dialogue will bring about significant policy changes to an anachronistic institution, but the Vatican is not known for major changes. Here are some issues we won’t hear bishops discuss with Pope Francis, but might hear from the Nuns on the Bus or countless other Catholic women — if they were invited to participate.
1. The Church should stop treating women as second-class people, and not just in family issues. Women should have the same rights and privileges as men in the Church. We can only dream that one day there will be a Pope Frances. At this point, women cannot even be priests.
2. It’s time to end the Church’s celibacy requirement for priests and nuns. While promoting natural law, the Church fails to acknowledge how unnatural celibacy is. Here’s a novel idea: Shouldn’t priests be viewed as role models with families, rather than as unquestionable messengers who act as necessary intermediaries to God?
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