Catholic Scholars: Let Women Speak In Church

| by Diana Kruzman
A Catholic Mass at St. Michael's CollegeA Catholic Mass at St. Michael's College

Several prominent Catholic scholars have come out in support of women preaching during Roman Catholic Mass, overturning a longstanding tradition of male-only voices being heard in churches.

A series of articles in the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano made the argument that women should be allowed to speak from the pulpit, as many are already doing, reported Christian Today. Women are currently barred from serving as ordained priests, a status that is required to preach during Mass, according to NPR.  

One article was written by Sister Catherine Aubin, a French Dominican nun of the Pontifical University in Rome, reported Christian Today. Her argument was centered around the historical biases toward women, stating that Jesus lived in a patriarchal society that was fundamentally different from the one that members of the Church occupy today. According to Aubin, this shows that the Vatican needs to keep up with the changes that have been made since ancient times.

Furthermore, Aubin argued that females, particularly saints such as Joan of Arc, Hildegard of Bingen and Catherine of Siena, have made important contributions to Catholicism.

"An overview of the history of Christianity leads us to consider the female figures, prophetic and charismatic, who with their authority, in rough centuries, have helped to evangelise a world," she said.

According to Aubin, many women are already preaching. As a result, the Church should accept their inclusion as official.

"Let us sincerely ask a question: then why can't women preach in front of everyone during a celebration?" Aubin asked.

Enzo Bianchi, who heads an ecumenical community in Italy, wrote an article that also challenged the Vatican’s stance by referring to historical examples. He brought up the fact that, during the Middle Ages and again in 1973, lay people were allowed to preach without being ordained — which meant that some women could speak from the pulpit.

"Do not forget that Jesus preached in the synagogues of Nazareth and other cities without being either a priest or an ordained rabbi, but he did it for prophetic charism and because it was commissioned by the heads of the various synagogues," said Bianchi.

Sources: Christian Today, NPR / Photo credit: Blaise Alleyne/Flickr

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