The Catholic Church organization reflects an ancient society where women are incapable of leadership and governance says Auckland theologian and lecturer, Jo Ayers.
“Second-class membership for women anywhere is unjust,” she told Flashes of Insight on Wednesday.
Asked by host Joe Grayland if the relationship of women and the Catholic Church is a problem, she replied she did not choose to see it this way and simply called the relationship of women and the Catholic Church “a matter of justice”.
Ayers said that God is made known to us in all our relationships and in examining these we are told that women are fully human.
She says that the Catholic Church is no longer prophetic for women and that civil society is.
“The evidence in New Zealand of women in leadership, in the highest jobs in the country underscores that civic society is ahead of the (Catholic) Church”.
It is a point echoed by Palmerston North catechist and theologian, Kate Bell, who is concerned the Church is so far behind.
“It is the (Catholic) Church that has the problem. It has not been able to comprehend and stay on board with the fact that women are baptized.
“The Church fails to understand that in the power and the validity of baptism we are made into Christ”, she said.
Bell says that society has not got it all right either and the church could provide some really interesting critique.
It is a point picked up by Elizabeth Young, theologian, pastoral worker and chaplain in Forbes, Australia.
Young says the Scriptures, Proverbs, legitimize women’s leadership, in for example business.
She says Jesus call to people was not limited; it was inclusive.
She told Flashes of Insight that Jesus called women, men, people from various cultural backgrounds, young and old and not just Christian stereotypes; he called unlikely people too!
For Young, the challenge is how can the Church embody and exemplify this ‘reign of God’ in civil society and like Bell she wonders how the Church today can challenge society.
Fiona Dyball from the Liturgy and Faith Formation office of the Australian Catholic Bishops told the conversation of the importance of understanding discipleship.
“If we are following Jesus, we follow what Jesus did, and Jesus chose and called women all over the place to receive the good news, to spread the Gospel and be Jesus witnesses”, she told the conversation.
She says she is reminded of the fantastic work the Sisters did and how empowered they were.
“They just made pathways and did it through partnerships and by forming relationships.”
A fan of Pope Francis who is really setting the say, Dyball says she is however looking for more public encouragement from some of the male leaders in the Church.
Far from seeing the cupboard bare, Dyball says she sees women in the Church ministry who are prophetic but sees there is still plenty of room, in the spirit of Vatican II, to ‘open the windows’.