The place of women in church and society
POPE Francis has announced a commission in the Vatican to look into the possibility of female deacons, and there has been talk of more women being given senior positions in Vatican departments and of women being allowed to deliver the homily at mass.
The most striking thing is that the comparison of the position of women in the contemporary church with the position they enjoyed in the early church.
Many historians argue that women were deaconesses in the first years of Christianity and played a more prominent part in leadership and ministry than they do today.
All of this is extremely interesting, given that we often look to the early followers of Christ for models and blueprints for the Church today.
It shows again how serious this pope is about shaking up the church also in the us, he wants bishops who are humble pastors not culture warriors.
And it suggests that Francis sometimes regards poor treatment at the hands of the Roman Curia in years gone by as a positive recommendation. When the Pope was in Sweden some time ago he proposed six new beatitudes for the contemporary era. He did not suggest they should replace Jesus’words, but he was offering his own repetition of the Sermon on the Mount.
Francis’ beatitudes include describing as “blessed” those who care for and protect the environment and those who work for full communion between Christians. The others focused on forgiveness and caring for the marginalized and on renouncing one’s “own comfort in order to help others.”
Francis firmly believes that the unchanging Christian message must resonate with contemporary sensibilities and concerns, and when the Gospels were written, the threat to the environment from climate change and the crisis of mass migration were not at the forefront of people’s minds.
On another note, Pope Francis invited 1,000 convicted criminals to mass at the Vatican some time ago and he called for clemency for prisoners in the year of mercy.
The pope urged inmates not to lose hope in God’s mercy, saying all people “have made mistakes.”
Again, the Irish missionary Fr. Shay Cullen who has championed the protection of women and children from sexual slavery in the Philippines says the work of the Church’s antitrafficking Santa Maria Group is too sl ow.
Cullen was awarded the Hugh O’Flaherty International Humanitarian Award for his work with children as young as nine who have been forced into sexual slavery for pedophile rings said also that the Santa Marta initiatives had “many years to catch up with.”
He also stressed that amnesty’s international’s support for the decriminalization of prostitution was one of the major issues facing the Santa Marta Group.
The decriminalization of prostitution “has opened the door for traffickers who are able to bring in women and put them in mega brothels and they are protected by law – the sex mafia say it is all legal,” he said, “But the women are victims of trafficking and in debt. They owe money and their families are threatened back home by these traffickers. This may be where law enforcement and the Church people must get working.”