We are absolutely convinced: it is a key issue for the Church’s future. Too long neglected due to misogyny, fear, convenience and ignorance, the question of the relationship between priests and women is fundamental of life if the Christian community is truly to be a fruitful encounter of growth and maturation for all. Why – in the wake of a very long and distorted tradition – are women still seen by priests to be a problem, as presences threatening to the integrity of a vocation rather than as sources of richness? Why indeed are women absent in the formative process of seminarians? As Caterina Ciriello recalls, in Pastores dabo vobis, John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation which dates back to the now distant year of 1992, stresses “the fundamentally ‘relational’ dimension of priestly identity”; but what relationship can ever be built if one never meets the other person as an equal?”. Moreover former seminarians, now pastors – whether they are parish priests, missionaries or teachers — find themselves living in a world populated by both males and females. And it is within this reality, without prejudice or obsession, without morbidity or arrogance, that they will find themselves having to exercise their ministry. The memorable scene from Roma città aperta [Rome, Open City], the masterpiece directed by Roberto Rosellini straight after the end of the Second World War, is an image of great suffering. In the poetic and terribly real black and white scene where Fr Pietro (Aldo Fabrizi) holds the lifeless body of Pina (Anna Magnani) in his arms, we encounter every time the power of a piety turned upside down, where it is not she who is weeping for him, but rather he who cradles and embraces her. He, the priest, looks her in the eye, he is a priest who – as an equal – looks in the eye of a woman with whom he has laughed and cried, hoped and prayed; a woman with whom, in their reciprocal maturation, he has covered a stretch of the road (giulia galeotti)
St. Peter’s Square
Jan. 20, 2018
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