Synods, seen by Pope Francis and many to be inclusive, have the possibility of becoming exclusive.
The signs of hope that Synods hold for women and those within the Church who want to see change may deliver the opposite.
The warning comes from involved and committed Catholic women in a conversation on Flashes of Insight.
Saying that synodal discernment is not easy nor fast, leaves the question open to how much time and effort people will have to give to a process that perhaps seems to be better suited for church professionals.
The women warn the noninvolvement of people may have the inverse effect of opening up the Church, implying it may return the Church walled garden albeit built by a minority view.
Through groups, she is associated with in Australia, Auckland theologian and lecturer Jo Ayers is watching the Australian Plenary (synod) develop.
From her involvement with these groups, she questions how inclusive the process is and suggests that excluding people from the conversation will have the significant potential to further alienate, perhaps the majority of Catholics.
“There is a lot of discussion and struggle about the agenda for the (Australian) Plenary and who will be the members who make the decisions”.
All four women on Flashes of Insight are hopeful and want to see change.
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.
Join Joe Gayland, Tom O’Loughlin, James Siemens, Carmel Pilcher, Kevin McGinnell, Sophy Morley, Jo and Gerard Shepherd, Judith Courtney, Judy Foster and Jo Ayers in this edition of Flashes of Insight – Let’s Talk Liturgy as they talk through the COVID-19 experience and ask about the lessons various parishes and church communities may have learned.
They also hint at some of the practices that as people of faith the Church could embrace in this changing world.
Join Dr Carmel Pilcher, Dr James Siemens and Jo Ayers and Professor Thomas O’Loughlin for a panel discussion hosted by Dr Joseph Grayland.
Under discussion is Eucharist as the Celebration of a people, a people attached to a greater body and the tensions that exist between individual expressions of thanksgiving and the expressions of thanks a community may offer.