Catholic church’s full council rejects push to elevate women’s role


Mackinlay – the Bishop of Sandhurst, which covers the Bendigo area of ​​Victoria – said council members were trying to redraft the motion so a new version could be approved on Friday.

“Everyone is absolutely adamant that we need to say something about the equal dignity of women and men and how we recognize that in the life of the Church,” he said.

The motion received the support of 148 people in the advisory vote – made up of lay people, priests and Church sisters – with only 36 amendments opposed and 27 in favour.

On the second ballot, the motion received the support of 25 bishops, just short of the required 29 votes.

Deacons are ordained ministers of the Church who do not intend to become priests, but may perform baptisms, attend weddings, and perform funerals and burials outside of Mass, as well as distribute the Holy Communion.

Women are permitted to serve as Anglican deacons in Australia, but not in the Catholic Church.

Pope Francis has created a second major commission to determine whether Catholic women should be able to serve as deacons, after a previous commission launched failed to reach a consensus.


Marilyn Hatton, a practicing Catholic and feminist, said she was bitterly disappointed by the failure of the motions – particularly on the possibility of women becoming deacons.

“It would have been a step in the right direction because women would have been in positions where they were respected,” said Hatton, a member of the reformist group Catholics Speak Out.

“It would have been a bridge to the future and the kind of church that Pope Francis envisions.”

Hatton noted that the latest census results showed a dramatic decrease in the number of Australians identifying as Christian, with the proportion of Australian Catholics dropping from 23% to 20% over the past five years.

“People are drifting away from the Catholic Church and that will only make things worse,” she said.

“The institutional church will continue to become even less relevant unless it does something to address the injustice of gender imbalance.”

She said the Catholic sex abuse crisis would not have been so bad if women had held leadership positions in the Church.

The full council previously passed motions supporting the Uluru Heart Statement, which calls for a First Nations voice to be enshrined in the Constitution, and formally apologized to victims of clergy child abuse.

John Warhurst, president of Concerned Catholics Canberra Goulburn, called the result “a blow to so many Australian Catholics – women and men – who believe the Church desperately needs women in leadership positions at a time when numbers of male priests is running out”. a way”.


He said the refusal of many bishops to consider allowing women to become deacons – if Pope Francis allowed it – was particularly “discouraging”.

Elizabeth Young, a Sister of Mercy who would like to become a deacon if the Church allows it, said: “It is painful to know that the idea of ​​women serving as deacons is feared by some.

She said women in the church were already doing the work of deacons – just without official recognition – and historical records show that Catholic women served as deacons until the 12th century.

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