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Reforms not revolution

· ​Editorial ·

We do not need a revolution to give women the place they deserve in the Church, nor is it indispensable to grant them the priesthood or the diaconate so longed for but at the same time feared. Indeed a little courage suffices, along with the prophetic capacity for looking to the future with positive eyes, accepting changes which are often already written into the order of things. In this issue of women church world we try to suggest changes that could be made from this moment without touching either dogmas or Canon Law codes. Also by following the suggestions outlined at the Synod on Young People by Cardinal Marx.

Umberto Boccioni “The City Rises” (1910-1911, detail)

The 1983 Code of Canon Law opens to lay people – and thus to women – many possibilities for institutional participation, even if of course it will later be necessary in practice to overcome the resistance of those who, without a reason or any juridical support, seek to bar women from the most important roles. In this case, as in many others, impediments are rooted solely in the refusal of many to make real a parity which is otherwise recognized and accepted in theory but never concretely implemented.

Of course no small obstacle to the implementation of this parity lies in the disparity between the cultural training of women religious and that reserved for men religious and priests. Who would have thought today that at the beginning of the 20th century women religious were among the first women to graduate from State Universities, to teach in their schools, the first to open courses for nurses and teacher training schools for girls? From being in the vanguard women religious have been relegated to the tail-end.

Women – and in particular women religious – can be invited to take part in many bodies, including the Council of Cardinals set up by Francis exactly a month after his election, or to speak in the congregations that precede a conclave.

The already existing organizations of women religious which elect their own representatives, could become effective spokespeople of ecclesiastical institutions and could be consulted at the time of decision making, as well as having their experiences listened to. It is preferable that the female presence in the Church be that expressed freely by the associations rather than the practice of the hierarchy currently in force of choosing individual female figures. It would be possible in this way to avoid a paternalistic relationship with regard to the women religious and a selectivity that risks rewarding the most obedient rather than the most competent sisters. (lucetta scaraffia)

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St. Peter’s Square

June 26, 2019

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