The stand of the Vatican to limit the role of women in the Church has continued to draw various dust amongst religious scholars and leaders.
A senior research associate-in-residence and adjunct professor of religion at HofstraUniversity in Hempstead, New York, Phyllis Zagano, in her article stated that the Church is at the risk of losing more of its members over its decision not to allow women to be present in church governance, certified as preachers and in the diaconate.
“No doubt, the theological hair-splitting is lost on the people of God. But the church is dangerously close to losing even more members when it states — or seems to state — that women cannot image Christ — that is, that women are not made in the image and likeness of God. That is not a good stance for the Vatican. ” she stated.
According to her, “to no one’s surprise, the working document for the synod’s “continental phase” recognized women as the backbone of the church.
It also admits that many women feel denigrated, neglected and misunderstood, symptomatic of narcissistic clericalism infecting clergy.”
She also argued that the recent statement made by Pope Francis does not help push the advocacy got women in the church to take more important roles.
“Pope Francis’ recent comments about women are not helpful. Yes, on the aircraft returning from Bahrain in early November, he decried treating women as “second-class citizens.” But in a Nov. 24 speech before the International Theological Commission (27 men, five women) Francis took aim at dissident Old Catholic Churches that ordain women — he did not distinguish whether as priests or as deacons — while at the same time saying he would like to increase the number of women on that very commission.” She stated.
She also recalled an interview between Pope Francis and the Jesuit Magazine, where the Pope used the theology of Swiss priest Hans Urs von Balthasar to cancel the idea of women in ministry, while approving of women in management.
“Von Balthasar, a close associate of Joseph Ratzinger (the retired Pope Benedict XVI) presented two principles that put women in their place: the “Petrine principle,” which defines ministry as masculine, and the “Marian principle,” which defines the church as female.” she said.
As Francis told America’s interviewers: “And why can a woman not enter ordained ministry? It is because the Petrine principle has no place for that. Yes, one has to be in the Marian principle, which is more important. Woman is more, she looks more like the church, which is mother and spouse. I believe that we have too often failed in our catechesis when explaining these things.”
While urging the Papacy to reconsider its stand on the role of women in ministry within the Church, she stated that failure to do this will only lead to a decrease in the church’s membership in the coming years.