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And then there would be the cases where the sisters would also give birth, and then very obviously then be thrown out of the congregations.

How will Pope Francis deal with abuse in the Catholic Church?

And, indeed, it seems like the developing world has been some of the places where it has been reported at least more frequently than elsewhere. What's the significance or the importance of the fact that the pope, in answering your question, acknowledged this for the first time? Well, I think it was quite courageous of him to even take the question. I admit it was a bit out of left field, so — but there was — it seems like there was momentum building for it. The Vatican's own women's magazine just last week had written an article about it, so it seemed like it was fair game. Nevertheless, the fact that the pope said it, he admitted it, he said it was a problem, he said we're working on it, and he committed himself to do even more, because he said more was needed, I think, is enormously significant.

If you think of this as a problem of secrecy and a culture of secrecy, having the pope come out and say, I get this, I know it's a problem, I think, is enormously significant maybe for the sisters themselves. Maybe they might feel emboldened now to break that silence. Briefly, this issue comes up just before a summit of bishops to talk about the abuse of children, sexual abuse of children in the church. Is there any sense that the abuse of religious sisters is going to come up at that meeting as well? I would be surprised if it did, only because already this meeting has enormous expectations, perhaps unreasonable expectations, placed on it.

It was called to address a very specific issue, the prevention of abuse of minors. I think if they were to add in the issue of abuse of religious sisters, that would detract attention from the core issue. So I think it would open a bit of a can of worms if they were to redirect this meeting to address that issue.

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Try Independent Minds free for 1 month See the options. Catholic Church. School 'will no longer be Catholic after refusing to fire gay teacher' Reverend says school's appeal will go to Vatican 'if necessary' to overturn decision. Home News. Church let child sex abuse continue 'to protect its own reputation'. Cardinal Pell appears in court to appeal child sex abuse convictions.

Abuse victims confront priests who molested them in new documentary. Defrocked Catholic priest from 'Spotlight' faces second jail sentence. As an Anglican priest, I have seen ordained women of extraordinary capacity working in the Anglican Church and exercising authority. I know women deacons, women priests and women bishops, and can testify to the marvellous work of ministry they are doing. I also know scores of Catholic women who would make truly remarkable priests.

They are loving, self-giving, intelligent and responsible, with spiritual depth and wisdom. The main argument used in the Catholic hierarchy to exclude women from priesthood is that, to represent Christ at the altar in Mass, the priest must be male. Opponents to women priests also claim that, at the Last Supper, Jesus ordained the 12 male apostles and no women.

In subsequent church tradition, they say, women were never priests and to ordain them now would make the church contradict its own tradition. At the most basic level, the church baptises christens females as well as males; there is no gender barrier around baptism. This has enormous implications. In baptism, a person takes on something of the identity of the Risen Christ. He or she now belongs to Christ in a unique way.

Not only are they committed to living a Christlike life of love and justice, they are also able to represent Christ in loving service to others. Yet supposedly only at the altar are they unable to represent Christ!

The Catholic Church Has No Moral Argument on Abortions

Jesus was not only male but also Jewish. Priests in the Catholic Church are not required to be Jews, but can represent Christ from widely divergent ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Maleness, in other words, is given a significant weighting over all other social and cultural differences, including femaleness. Biblical scholars , moreover, have argued that Jesus ordained no-one in his lifetime: neither at the Last Supper nor anywhere else. It is even possible that women were present at this event.

There is compelling evidence that women, in the ministry of Jesus and the early church, held positions of leadership and authority.