Roles for Women in the Church

In light of what we have recently been hearing from Pope Francis regarding certain aspects of the Church’s life, the issue of the role of women in the Catholic Church will surely continue to be in the news. In the past week, I have seen saw three articles and a video that spoke of issues related to women and the Catholic Church.

The first headline featured an American woman, Dawn Eden (pictured above), who has received a degree allowing her to help train seminarians on their road to the priesthood. The second headline highlighted a comment from Cardinal Parolin remarking that it may be possible for a woman to become the prime minister of the Vatican, as it is not a position that requires one to be an ordained cleric. The third headline argues that women religious are disproportionately the ones on the front lines serving those who suffer the effects of war, migration, and human trafficking.

Regardless of what one thinks of the theological underpinnings and ramifications of each of these three media events, the presence of them all in a single week portends to a potential growing trend. Although it is generally understood that approximately eighty-five percent of all paid positions in the U.S. Church are held by women (Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, CARA), we will likely see in the coming months and years a more intentional movement in the direction of women occupying new types of authoritative positions in the pastoral ministry of the Church. This may have significant implications for the Church as Institution and for the Church as Mystical Communion, and I look forward to watching as these things unfold.