Growing up Catholic in the Deep South, I felt I was on the opposite end of the religious spectrum from others. There seemed to be so many differences between what I experienced and what my Baptist friends believed. One of the issues that overlapped was the place of women in the church. I never could wrap my thinking around the reality that nuns did most of the heavy lifting in the church and yet were never recognized as equal partners in congregations or schools. When I left the Catholic church as an older teenager, I chose what was available to me at that time in my life and became a Baptist. I found the same reality in church life there. Women played such a significant role in the life of the church, yet they were denied the right of ordination. The belief, then and now, is that the pastoral leadership of a congregation must be assigned to men.
Reading the current issue of Conscience, “Francis’ Blind Spot” (Vol. XXXV, No. 4), which focuses on Pope Francis’ view of the female presence in Catholicism and the historical importance of women within the church, I was reminded again that the papal view of women has not changed since the 2nd century. Sadly, for all the positive changes that Francis seeks to bring Catholics into the 21st century, he continues to place women in a negative light. Though he professes to have a desire to revise the theology of women with deeper understanding, he sustains an outdated and unfair way of thinking about women in general.
If I were given the chance, I would ask Pope Francis one simple question: “Your Holiness, do you believe that God extends the call to ministry and mission only to men and deliberately excludes women?”
REV. VINCENT LACHINA
Chaplain, Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest