Is the Lack of Leadership for Women Harming the Church's Standing Among Catholics?Roundup
tags: Catholic Church, womens history, Clericalism
Phyllis Zagano is senior research associate-in-residence and adjunct professor of religion at Hofstra University, in Hempstead, New York. Her most recent book is Women: Icons of Christ.
More than a year ago, Pope Francis announced the Synod on Synodality, an initiative to take the pulse of the Catholic Church. The U.S. Catholics have been mostly silent about this effort, but in several countries, including Australia, France, England and Wales, and Germany, things are moving full steam ahead.
Two major problems have come up time and time again: clericalism and the place of women in the Church.
If you haven’t heard much about this effort, which completes its first phase this summer, you are not alone. In May 2021, six months prior to the synod’s October 2021 opening, the Vatican asked the world’s bishops to name synod coordinators in their dioceses, who were expected to organize a program of public meetings for Catholics, ex-Catholics and non-Catholics alike to talk about the Church.
Some did. Some did not. Yet, somehow most U.S. dioceses — 95%, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops — wrote reports, though relatively few are published. Participating dioceses melded parish reports into diocesan reports, which were combined into regional reports. From the regional reports, as well as reports from some 110 independent Catholic organizations, the USCCB will create a 10-page report, due in Rome by mid-August.
Some diocesan reports, such as those from Buffalo, Louisville, Salt Lake City and Trenton, point to clericalism and the lack of women in leadership as problematic. Louisville, Trenton and Salt Lake City noted calls for women deacons. The Buffalo report found “the abuse scandal (and) the lack of respect for women as manifested in an all-male clergy” caused declining church attendance and membership.
Even San Francisco, led by conservative Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, admitted to clericalism, and Washington, D.C.’s rosy report notes one core fact: People do not trust the bishops.
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