Pope Francis: Women make ‘indispensable contribution’ to society
(Vatican Radio) In his first Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis recognizes the “indispensable contribution” of women to society and underlines the “need to create still broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church”.
“This presents a great challenge to pastors and theologians, who are in a position to recognize more fully what this entails with regard to the possible role of women in decision-making in different areas of the Church and Church life,” said Donna Orsuto, a professor of theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, citing the exhortation.
“My hope is that it would become normative that women would be consulted, that women would be involved, that their gifts would be put at the service of the Church,” she commented.
She underlined important distinctions the Pope makes in the exhortation in understanding women’s service in the Church in relation to the priesthood.
First, she said, the Pope clearly states that the ordination of women is not open for discussion. But he goes on to make a very important point, she said: “The sacramental priesthood is not about power, it’s about service”.
He further emphasizes that functions in the Church “do not favour superiority of some vis à vis the others.” She underlined how the Pope elaborates this point in his exhortation by stating how Mary, a woman, is more important than the bishops.
“What he is saying is very important: women do not have to be priests to be of service in the Church, and we need to find creative ways to have women exercise their legitimate rights, based on their equality and dignity,” she said.
Women with professional backgrounds in business and management could be of great service to the Church, she offered as an example. As well, she wondered whether women could work in the diplomatic service of the Church or whether it must be limited to priests.