20 January 2022, The Tablet

Topic of the week: Roots of Church caste system


Your editorial (“The true purpose of synod”, 8 January) refers to the position of John Paul II on the ontological status of women, they being different from men, and inferior in the clerical hierarchy. If this is the settled position of the papacy it raises several troubling issues. Priesthood will be reserved for men, so there are two categories of the people of Christ, one above the other.

Would the leniency shown to clerical sexual offenders have been possible if women were members of the clerical establishment? Who knows? But my experience in business tells me that the presence of women in the corridors of power sets a higher bar for the ethical treatment of all and militates against the defence that “boys will be boys”.

Whether we like it or not, whether it is fair or not, many Catholic mothers are not comfortable with their children being under the care of male priests. This difficulty would not arise if the priest was a woman. With the decline in female religious sisters, the gender balance of the clerical and religious cohorts taken together will be increasingly male. This is not progress.

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