- The case for mercy
The leading proponent of relaxing the ban on Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics tells Christopher Lamb that the Church too often appears rule-bound
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As a cradle Catholic and for 20 years a member of Catholic Women's Ordination I am so pleased that the vote for women bishops has finally been passed in the Church of England.
I would ask Catholics to pray and reflect on the role of women and what we can offer in our Church too. Catholic Women's Ordination supports women's ordained ministry in a renewed Catholic Church. We have prayed and campaigned for this for 21 years. We have been patient and waited and now know many support us, though since 1994 we are not supposed to discuss it.
We want to stay within our Church and see women being able to test out a vocation to priesthood. We have a shortage of male priests and maybe now is the time to consider women as deacons and priests in a renewed church? I go to Mass most days so am not an outsider but I feel concerned that the hierarchy in my Church might rather withhold daily or even Sunday Mass and other sacraments from people than consider that perhaps now in the 21st century some of us women might be able to support our communities sacramentally?
We already visit hospitals, families and help in parishes. I am not seeking a position as a bishop but perhaps, as a retired social worker and bereavement worker with a theology degree, I can now offer more sacramentally and spiritually with the sick and older people in my area? Many of us lay people work with priests but it is solely at the discretion of those priests and their bishops. Many of us want to offer our gifts and experience for mission as well as maintenance. So, perhaps now is the time...
Pippa Bonner, Catholic Women's Ordination, Harrogate
Just as the early Church was inspired to go beyond Jesus's explicit instruction as to its mission (Mathew 10:1-7), so can our Bishops' Conference now go beyond his example in confidently proposing changes to the priesthood? Is it not now time for a universal ordained priesthood comprising male and female, married and single, some of whom have been called to commit to a celibate life and some not? Surely, the signs of the times show this expansion is now needed and wanted.
John Loughran, London N8