Plenary Council: Women’s role in the Church
Here is the text of an intervention by Monica Doumit on women and the Church at the Plenary Council on Tuesday 5 October
Greetings from Gadigal Country.
I am a proud Maronite Catholic, who, like much of my generation, has strong connections to the Latin Rite as well. I’m humbled by the opportunity to represent women from both Rites at this Council.
I am conscious that no one can claim to speak for all women and I would be wary of anyone who claims to do so. Catholic women are a diverse group with a wide range of gifts, struggles and desires.
To prepare this intervention, I asked members of the Maronite Women’s Movement what they desire from this Council. While answers varied, they all centred on one theme: more support for the domestic Church.
They asked for initiatives to assist women experiencing the pain of infertility or miscarriage, of raising children with special needs and caring for ageing parents, for those trying to raise their children in a faith to which the world around them is indifferent or even actively hostile. They want support in the challenges of the ‘hidden’ years of transition from being single women to wives and mothers. I hope this Council can assist.
I didn’t plan to address the issue of women’s Ordination as it isn’t an issue for any Maronite woman I have met, nor for my contemporaries or those younger in the Latin Rite. But I felt called to speak on it after it was raised in the opening session. As I said, I do not purport to speak for all women in the Church and I would only like to offer another view to that which has already been expressed.
Suggesting that women can only be equal in the Church if we are admitted to Holy Orders diminishes the extraordinary contribution women have made and continue to make in the Church. It is an example of the same clericalist attitude ironically so opposed by those who advocate for women’s Ordination.
Lay women and lay men, for that matter, serve the Church daily in a variety of roles, using a variety of gifts, as St Paul writes. The Church is much richer for their presence and fidelity.
We do not need to replace the clergy in order to be equal in the Church, because Catholicism is not a zero sum game. We thrive when serving in collaboration and not competition with the Priesthood. Consider St Mary of the Cross and Father Julian Tenison Woods, Servant of God Eileen O’Connor and Father Ted McGrath as two wonderful, Australian examples of this collaboration.
To the Catholic women listening, I say: please, my sisters, do not listen to anyone who tells you that you are less valued or your service less important than ordained ministry. Please do not let these voices keep you from serving the Church with everything you have. The Church in Australia desperately needs and desires your wisdom, your empathy and your genius.
- Monica Doumit is the Director, Public Affairs and Engagement for the Archdiocese of Sydney
I’m puzzled by the fact that there appear to have been many interventions at the Plenary Council and that this one alone is published by The Daily Voice? Did I miss others?
Thank you for speaking up for the real challenges that women face in today’s world. I once asked at a Deanery meeting why some women wanted to become priests. The reply I received indicated that the women thought the priesthood was an elite place of power, rather than a vocation sent by God to men, to serve God and others on his behalf.
I hope that such confused notions as portrayed by these women can be confronted and corrected. Many of us who held meetings to give input for the Plenary are relying on delegates like you to stand up for the true teachings of the Church and the proper role of the clergy. The Plenary should not be a place to create and foster false doctrine.Please speak up for those of us who are not present, but hold the true teachings of the Church close to our hearts. Many thanks, Monica Guy
Well said, and appreciated. Women have contributed so much, and continue to do so not only in our churches but in our homes, our domestic church. You have echoed my sentiments, and I hope they are heard.
‘We do not need to replace the clergy in order to be equal in the Church’ – I find this a perplexing statement in the article above. I am a 63 year old woman and have never heard anyone talk about ‘replacing the (male) clergy’, or about seeing what women already do in and for the Church as somehow ‘less valued’ or ‘less important’. Most people I know and speak with are very conscious of the gifts of women and their value. and of the gifts of men as priests too. I should add that I have never felt a call to ordained priesthood myself. However, I also believe that God is quite capable of calling women to serve His people as ordained priests, and that our Church limits the gifts that can be shared by denying that God ever would do this. Like Andrea Dean I am also looking forward to more reports in the Daily Voice from the Council that represent the diversity of issues and views that are being discussed and reflected upon.
Women priests! What a distraction.
Jesus and His apostles were accompanied by women during His Ministry. Some of these women stood at the foot of the Cross; Mary His Mother, Mary Magdala, Salome,Mary the wife of Clopas,the mother of James and John, the mother of James and Joset. Some good candidates for the priesthood,one would have thought, better perhaps than the apostles who were represented only by John. These good women had,like the apostles,listened to Jesus’ talks and knew Him well. However, Jesus had not chosen to have them with Him at the Last Supper when He instituted the priesthood. Why would God be calling women to the priesthood now when Jesus didn’t include them, there is no tradition of it, and as St John Paul II said about the ordination of women, ‘Which part of ‘no’ don’t you understand?’
Let that go and listen for ideas from the Holy Spirit about ways to bring our children and grandchildren back to the faith.
Those who incessantly talk about the ‘holy grail’ of women’s ordination, inadvertently elevate the ordained ministry above any other call or ministry. I don’t believe that is God’s heart.
I think Monica’s intervention contribution is very timely and may God bless her for standing up for authentic objective truth.For anyone to claim that The Holy Spirit is “saying” to the Church in Australia that women needed to be ordained to the Ministerial Priesthood is just a ludicrous proposal.