Catholic women process before the Pope to seek a reformed priesthood

By staff writers
17 Sep 2010

Catholics working for women to be ordained in a reformed priesthood are conducting a 'walk of witness' before the Pope in London today.

Members and supporters of Catholic Womens Ordination (CWO) are gathering outside St George's Roman Catholic Cathedral in Southwark, south-east London at 2-2.30pm on Friday 17th September.

They are staging a processional walk down Lambeth Road to Lambeth Palace where, at 4pm, Pope Benedict XVI is due to arrive to meet Anglican Archbishop Dr Rowan Williams.

Those taking part are being joined there in solidarity by women priests from the Church of England, who are campaigning for their right to be bishops.

Catholic Women's Ordination is a network of people working for reform of the male, celibate priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church and the elimination of "an attitude and structure of clericalism, patriarchy and global misogyny, with the inclusion of women to ordination in this reformed priesthood".

A spokeswoman explained: "On Friday, we will make a witness to the Anglican and Catholic leaders concerning the sexism and abuses of power in their religious institutions."

The Pope is also being greeted in London with paid-for adverts on buses urging him to "Ordain Women Now".

The pontiff has sought to forcibly silence debate on the issue of women's ordination and discipline those who promote it.

The Church argues that Jesus Christ had only male disciples named in the Gospels.

But proponents of women's ordination point out that he had prominent women followers, that the tradition indicates two women apostles, that women were the first witnesses to the resurrection, that the message of Jesus was one of respect and inclusion to women in the face or religious prejudice, and that the Church does not seek to restrict ordained ministry to first century Palestinian Jewish men.

When he was Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, and headed the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly the Inquisition), the present pontiff took action against then IBVM sister Lavinia Byrne over her book Women at the Altar. Copies of the book were destroyed in the USA.

Catholic women working for change say that the denial of full recognition to women in the church is a betrayal of the Gospel message and an insult to half of humanity.

Progressive Christian groups are determined to open up discussion on issues that Pope Benedict has refused to move on, and point out that their concern arises from deep Christian commitment, not from 'aggressive secularism'.

Most have distanced themselves from the 'Protest the Pope' movement, which some see as too negative and confrontational, but openly gay Catholic priest Father Bernard Lynch will address tomorrow's PtP Trafalgar Square rally, where he will be is the only Christian speaker.

Fr Lynch has a widely respected ministry among people living with HIV and AIDS. He too has faced Vatican censure, and like human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell recently, allegations against his personal integrity. These were disproved in a court case.

More on CWO: http://www.catholic-womens-ordination.org.uk/

[Ekk/3]

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