06 October 2020, The Tablet

Catholics launch campaign against gender-exclusive Bible

Catholics launch campaign against gender-exclusive Bible

Many Catholic women believe gender-exclusive language belongs firmly in the past. (File pic of a 1665 Bible being given a dust down.)
Waltraud Grubitzsch/DPA/PA Images

Catholic women in Britain have backed a petition calling on the Bishops’ Conferences of England and Wales and Scotland to reconsider the decision to introduce a gender-exclusive Bible translation for use at Mass.

More than 150 people have already signed the petition, which was established by Bridget Kennedy two weeks ago.

Controversy over the Bishops’ decision to scrap the Jerusalem Bible translation, currently heard at Masses in Britain, in favour of the English Standard Version (Catholic edition), was reignited recently when the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland announced they had decided to enact a similar change for the lectionary in Scotland.

At the time Dr Sarah Parvis, Senior Lecturer in Patristics at the University of Edinburgh, called the decision disappointing.

“They really need to consider more carefully the pastoral impact of continuing to prevent Catholic women from recognising themselves as referred to in the words of Scripture in this way. The US evangelical Protestant provenance of the ESV translation is also a concern,” she said. 

In her introduction to the petition Ms Kennedy writes: “The Bishops have chosen to exclude at least fifty percent of the ecclesial community. Their choice of Bible translation can but speak of an attitude that continues to judge women second class citizens in the Church.

“Language shapes thoughts and attitudes, and the impact of rendering Holy Scripture in this way is to deny the inclusion of female disciples of Jesus, not only in the language of the liturgy, but in the good news of salvation. At his election address, Pope Francis set a tone of inclusiveness when he greeted us together as ‘fratelli e sorelle’ (brothers and sisters). The Bishops might have taken their lead from the Vicar of Christ. 

“It was to mutual interdependence that Jesus entrusted a woman and a man as he died upon the cross. It was a woman Jesus commissioned first Apostle of the Resurrection. It was the stories of the women of faith that Jesus heard the men repeating as they made their way together to Emmaus.  The Bishops might have taken their lead from Jesus.

“This issue has stirred within me ‘a fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones’ (Jeremiah 20.9). My prayer is that you might join me in prayerfully encouraging the Bishops to open their hearts and minds to what the Spirit might be saying to the Church through the anger, disillusionment and disbelief of its faithful women.”




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