Friday, March 19, 2010

"From the Pews in the Back," Women in the Church - UPDATED

Today I attended a luncheon talk sponsored by the Massachusetts Bible Society. The presenters were Kate Dugan and Jennifer Owens, who are the editors of a collection of essays written by young Catholic women, entitled “From the Pews in the Back.” These women share their views of the Catholic Church; how they see their place and roles within it. I found it an excellent presentation.

The Church has always seemed to struggle with the role of women within it. The Church as institution has only males as ordained clergy, yet most of its charitable works, past and present, has been organized and lead by women. If you go into many parishes, you find that various ministries within it are performed by women.

Throughout the Church’s history, there have been women who have been spiritual giants, whose lives continue to inspire many Christians. Among my favorites are St. Clare of Assisi and St. Teresa of Avila, both reformers, both founders of Catholic communities of women. They sometimes had to stand up to Church authorities for their ideals, but did it with respectful stubbornness. Then there was Dorothy Day, whom I found out from the presentation, has been an example for many of the women essayists.

All the gifts that many Catholic women, religious and lay, have shared with and for the Church, and yet they have been treated as second class citizens within parts of the Catholic community. And some would say they have even been treated as third class citizens, after the clergy and men.

Catholic women deserve to be listen to by the leaders of the Church. They should let their needs be known, and Church must address them. And they must be recognized and thanked for the gifts of themselves and their talents that they have given to us all.
UPDATE: The MassBible has posted the video of the talk.

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