FutureChurch E-newsletter
 Focus on Women in Church Leadership
February 2015 E-News
FutureChurch Goes to Rome to Advocate for Women's Equality

In This Issue

Memorable Quotes

The Gender Policy of the Catholic Bishops of India hopes to bring 
a gender-just Church and society.

Astrid Lobo Gajiwala
Panelist at the Vatican Conference on women in the Catholic Church and FutureChurch WICL Advisory Board

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Pope Francis, everything is not OK yet for women in the Church

FutureChurch heads to Rome to advocate for women's leadership in the Vatican

On March 8, 2015 FutureChurch Executive Director, Deborah Rose-Milavec will moderate a Vatican panel discussion that will discuss the experiences of women and how to expand their roles in the Catholic Church.  Entitled "I Have a Dream" the panel is part of the second

annual Voices of Faith event (www.voicesoffaith.org).  


 Panelists include four prominent women from around

Panelist Dr. Astrid Lobo Gajiwala

the world: Dr. Astrid Lobo Gajiwala of India, Gudrun Sailer of Germany, Swedish Ambassador Ulla Gudmundson, and Dr. Rocio Figueroa Alvear of New Zealand.  

While women have made some gains in the Vatican, you can still count on one hand those who hold top-level positions. Only four percent of upper level leadership roles in the secretariats, congregations and pontifical councils are held by women.  


Pope Francis, everything is not OK yet for women in the Church.


Recently the world's cardinals agreed 

something has to change.  At consistory meetings on February 12- 13, 2015, Vatican spokesperson Father Federico Lombardi, reported that "a number of speakers

Panelist Ambassador Ulla Gudmunson

[cardinals] expressed the hope of 'an increasingly active role' for women, especially regarding women in positions of leadership within the Roman Curia." 


 If Francis and the cardinals are serious about a more incisive presence for women in the Catholic Church, there is a roadmap.  Dr. Astrid Lobo Gajiwala, one of the panelists, helped the bishops' conference of India develop the first gender policy of its kind and scope in the Catholic Church, an experience she will talk about as part of the panel discussion.


Approved in September 2009, the Gender Policy of the Catholic Bishops of India (http://cbci.in/DownloadMat/Gender_Policy.pdf) has yet to receive the attention it deserves.


Rooted in scripture and Catholic Social Teaching, the

Panelist Gudrun Sailer

document contains a solid roadmap for opening doors to women's leadership:

  • Without qualification, the bishops state, "The ultimate goal of the policy is to achieve gender equality"(2).  They say the Church's mission is to form a "discipleship of equals"(11), effectively avoiding the "complementarity" language that evokes gender apartheid rather than the full equality of women and men.
  • The document recognizes, "Gender equality is a cross-cutting issue that needs to be integrated in all the Commissions, Church bodies, institutions, policies and programs of the Church"(12). Recognizing the current restrictions on women's roles imposed by a ban on ordination, they seek to maximize women's equality in all other ways possible.
  • The bishops of India understand that achieving gender equality means that women should have a right to decision making in the Church and must speak in their own voice.  The bishops write, "Gender equality is achieved through equal partnership and involves women's equal right to articulate their needs and interests as well as their vision of society and the Church and to shape the decisions that affect their lives" (13).
  • They recognize that training for seminarians,
    Panelist Dr. Rocio Figueroa Alevar
    women religious and even priests, bishops and major superiors is critical.  They recommend that these groups receive courses in "gender sensitivity" and feminist theology in their formation and ongoing education.
  • The bishops recognize that in order to achieve gender equality, "time-bound action plans" (xiv) must be developed that include monitoring mechanisms and strategies for "affirmative action" in reserving leadership positions for women (33).
  • The bishops hope the Gender Policy of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India will inspire the Universal Church to create a world of co-partnerships (x).

The Bishops of India have shown themselves to be prophetic leaders in our universal Church.  They took to heart the precepts they penned. They gave women a central role in writing a policy that would affect women everywhere and stood by the final composition thus making it their own.    


The bishops created the kind of collaboration badly needed in today's Church.  They listened deeply and created a space for women to be subjects, and not objects, in their own future thus confirming the legitimacy of women's faith, experience and hope for the Church.


Pope Francis values the voice of bishops' conferences when it comes to making vital decisions for the people they pastor.  He could showcase this initiative as a roadmap for creating more room for women's leadership in the worldwide Church and inside the Vatican. That would be one important way to create  'a more incisive presence' for women in our Church. 


Restore Mary of Magdala to Easter Sunday


FutureChurch highlights the stories of women that are omitted from the lectionary and advocate for their use at Mass. During the Easter Season the Roman Catholic Lectionary calls for only the first half of John's Resurrection narrative (John 20:1-9) on Easter Sunday. Only in Canada do Catholics hear the story of Jesus' commissioning Mary of Magdala to deliver the news of his resurrection to the community.  


In fact, the rest of John's Resurrection narrative (verses 10-18) is not read on any Sunday.  As a result we, as a community, never hear the core Resurrection message Jesus commissioned Mary Magdalene to proclaim.


FutureChurch's resources provide both the background and practical suggestions for restoring Mary of Magdala to your Easter Sunday story.  You can use them in your parish and in your community.  


Download our resources today and restore the story of Mary of Magdala as the Apostle to the Apostles to your community.  

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