THE Australian bishops’ Social Justice Statement this year tackles a subject that will continue to be an important issue in the Catholic Church well into the 21st century.
The bishops have produced a lengthy response to last year’s report on women’s participation in the Church.
The response offers a broad range of suggestions for promoting the role of women within the Church.
Significantly, the bishops point out that they cannot diverge from Church teaching or the changes made at Vatican II.
This is a crucial point, but need not be seen as a barrier to change by progressive elements. There are many ways that the role of women can be promoted in the Church without going to the extreme of jostling for them to be admitted to the priesthood.
Cardinal Edward Clancy of Sydney made the point last August at the launch of the report into women’s participation in the Church, that the Vatican has given the final word on women priests Ð it’s a closed issue.
It is important to look at what women can achieve within the current structure of the Church and take advantage of the new openness that exists.
Ultimately, the Church needs the full support of all women if it is to continue to thrive.