There is one tragedy that an increasing number of Catholics agree on – the Church’s failure to make full use of the enormous wealth of experience and the talents, expertise and special perspective of more than half its members
To mark International Women’s Day on Tuesday The Tablet has compiled a list of 50 remarkable women. They are just a tiny fraction of the women who could, in a Church that drew fairly and equally on the gifts of all the faithful, be sharing in its leadership. These are the women who could be running parishes and managing dioceses. They could be leading Vatican departments (a handful of senior officials in the Roman Curia are women, but fewer than one in 10 of the total). They could be serving on episcopal conferences. They could be presiding at worship – though the Church’s failure to make intelligent use of the gifts and talents of women is a concern that goes deeper and further than the issue of their ordination to the diaconate or to the priesthood. Women could – and should – be redesigning the landscape in a Church that, in 2022, is in urgent need of fundamental change.
Of course, women are already in important leadership positions in the Church itself and in Catholic schools, hospitals and charities – and the number of them is growing. The women who are dotted around the leadership structures of the Church certainly have authority and influence. Women such as Nathalie Becquart – an undersecretary at the Synod of Bishops office, who will be the first woman with a right to vote during the summit of bishops next year – are making a real difference. But the Catholic Church is led by men. And the men who lead the Church are elected by men in a recruitment process dominated by men.