by Olga Lucia Álvarez Benjumea, ARCWP (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Evangelizadoras de los apóstoles
November 27, 2013
What do you expect from Pope Francis with respect to women in the priesthood? They asked me that question not long ago and I answered, "From Pope Francis as pope I expect nothing, much less dogmatic or doctrinal change. He is under the "sway" of the Curia. What Francis is doing is challenging us to live the Gospel incarnate in the People with the sons and daughters of God. That is enough. It is and has been what's most important in the history of Christianity and the Church. The proclamation of the Gospel is justice and equality. If the opposite is preached, proclaimed and done, injustice and oppression are gestated, there will be no change, no reform, and PEACE is aborted! The door of the Gospel remains open to all women and men of good will!
For many, there is still the worrisome question about Canon 1024, which says that only baptized males can have access to the sacrament of Holy Orders. Up to now, no one has been able to answer what kind of water is used to baptize males or what different words are used in the baptism of a male that aren't known to the other members of the Church. The sacramental rite of Baptism is totally the same for women and men. Something has to change so that we are not discriminating against and marginalizing half of humankind which is us women.
Francis has just said that "the reservation of the priesthood to males...is not a question open to discussion." I agree that it's not discussed, but the denial of the priesthood to women is questionable, since it isn't supported by any biblical or theological argument.
The sacramental commitment, proclaimed at the moment of consecration, must be inclusive of women and men. It is the commitment to dedication and service that springs from deep within men and women, joyfully proclaiming the Gospel! Commitment can not just be exclusive to males. The Eucharist is made and lived in Community! It is the celebrant con-celebrating with the Community and the Community celebrating with the co-celebrant, united, making real together the commitment to conversion, renewal and change (metanoia), building the Kingdom of God here on Earth, in the Here and Now.
It is impossible for them to deny women listening and following the voice of God-Conscience.
"Conscience is the most secret core and sanctuary of a man. There he is alone with God..." (GS 16)
Each of us human beings, man or woman, must obey the right judgment of our conscience. It isn't lawful for us to act against our own conscience, since we have always been taught and learned as a principle from the Church: conscience is the voice of God. "In all one says and does, one is obliged to follow faithfully what one knows to be just and right." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1778)
Conscience, being the voice of God, is not exclusive to men. In fact, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, on hearing the call and giving her priestly "yes", representing all of us women, responded to that priestly commitment, saying, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." (Luke 1:26-38) In every Eucharist, she is the one who gives herself over and says, "This is my Body; this is my Blood." My Lord and My God!
Under no circumstances can we feel excluded in the face of our call to priestly ministry. On the contrary, it's our responsibility -- joyful service to the Gospel, for the Kingdom of God in the Church, with the Church, always bringing a liberating message with joy of salvation, as did Mary Magdalene and her companions carrying out Jesus' commission: "Go tell my brothers and sisters to go to Galilee, and we will see each other there." (Matthew 28: 8-20)
Just like the women of Jerusalem, those who remained at the foot of the cross, and who looked for him in the tomb, we have heard Jesus' commission and with them and many more, we have accepted the invitation to meet in Galilee. There, where there is no lust for power, where the empires of oppression, injustice and inequality have no place. There, where only unity in Christ who lovingly clothes, protects and cares for us, is sought.
He said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness." (John 8:12)