Another instance of child rape in the Catholic Church! We all know that this is a problem due to media coverage and recent movies like Spotlight and Calvary, which depict the systemic corruption in this area. But, we need to think further about why this continues to happen. Is there a connection between the recurrent abuse and the absence of women and parents in the church hierarchy? Would there have been perpetual cover up if women and parents had helped determine the verdicts of the abusers? Would more priests have been caught? Would less children have been abused? I believe that this is the case for women and parents would more instinctively want justice for the violated children. Fortunately, Catholic women are joining together to demand representation. These women (conservative and liberal) believe that in light of the recent abuses, immediate change is required starting with providing them with more authority. As of right now, all of those in charge are single men. Therefore, women, mothers, and fathers do not have a say in how the church should respond to the injustices. The church would be a safer place for children if more women and parents had a greater place within all levels of the church structure.
It is sad when one considers how long women have been marginalized in the Catholic Church. Due to the lack of representation, women are faced with the hard decision of whether they should stay or go. As the NY Times article below indicates, many have decided to leave. And I don’t blame them. Why stay when there might be a more accepting religious community available? On the other hand, there are women who have chosen to stay and fight for change from within. They are openly sharing their perspectives on the sex scandals that have taken place and they are refusing to sugar coat their opinions. They are asking questions like, “Is the church a safe place for our children?” For many of them the answer is no. In the midst of this uncertainty, they are choosing to wrestle with how to move forward while remaining Catholic. Writer Kate Hendrick shares how she finds hope in the voices of women who are speaking out. Here is one of the quotes from Hendrick’s article:
Everyone in pain reaches a point where it just feels too painful to go on. But like a woman in the transition stage of labor, this point of no return is where we have to go if we wish to see new life spring forth. Our souls cannot bear the cost of avoiding the question and allowing for any muck to be papered over. I mean that quite literally. For the sake of your soul do not stop the light from shining into the crevices.
I have much respect for these women who desire reform and the road ahead will not be easy. This takes a lot of courage and guts.
As the religious leaders gathered in October to discuss the future of Catholic youth, the discussion turned to women and their inability to vote at these meetings (synods). Undoubtedly, this was brought to their attention on account of a recent petition with over 9,000 signatures from women around the world demanding for the right to vote at future synods. A document was presented to the Pope stating how “The absence of women’s voices and viewpoints impoverishes discussion and the path of the church.” Many bishops voiced their support of moving forward in this direction. This is a historic moment for women in the Catholic Church and change is potentially on the horizon.
And this gives me hope.
For further reading see articles below: