Women call for changes in Church
The views of more than 17,000 Catholic women from 104 countries have been captured in a survey that has been presented to the Vatican.
Researchers who undertook the International Survey of Catholic Women (ISCW) – one of the most extensive studies of Catholic women’s views in the Church’s 2000-year history – said the responses showed that Catholic women wanted reform of the Church.
Drs Tracy McEwan and Kathleen McPhillips from the University of Newcastle, together with Professor Emerita Tina Beattie at the University of Roehampton, London, said the ISCW underlined the ‘complex diversity, insights, and shared concerns’ of thousands of Catholic women from around the world.
‘Respondents came from a wide range of countries and language groups. They held diverse standpoints which often reflected the cultural and communal contexts within which their Catholic faith is experienced and practised,’ their summary said.
“Responses revealed their joys, frustrations, fears, struggles, hopes, and dreams.’
In summarising the findings, they said respondents emphasised the importance of their faith, the centrality of the Eucharist to their lives and their active participation in parishes and church communities, while also expressing high levels of frustration or dissatisfaction relating to their experiences.
Many respondents drew attention to a lack of accountability and transparency in church leadership and governance, particularly in the hierarchy’s handling of sexual abuse allegations. This was a barrier to participation in church life.
The survey revealed strong support for the full inclusion of women in pastoral, liturgical, and governance leadership, as well as decision-making roles. This connected with the need for recognition of women’s contribution, particularly their unpaid labour to church life. Respondents also expressed support for women preaching the homily during Mass and for their ordination to the diaconate and/or to the priesthood.
The study found 83 per cent agreed that Catholic social teaching is a good resource for social justice action and 82 per cent said LGBTIQ people should be fully included and respected in all church activities.
The authors made several recommendations based on the findings. They included greater opportunities for women’s leadership including in Synodal processes; more guidelines to eliminate sexual, spiritual, physical and emotional abuse in the church; and ensuring church teaching is attuned to the lived realities of women’s lives across social contexts and cultures.
To view the full report go to nova.newcastle.edu.au
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