Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Equal, not identical

A Catholic News Service piece from Dec. 18 records some of the discussion at a Dec. 15 Rome conference on "Feminism and the Catholic Church."

The event included comments from Mary Ann Glendon, a Harvard law professor and the president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences -- not a bad résumé. Overall, a good and needed reflection on the continuing need of reformation on the part of the institutional Church.


Unless the Catholic Church can show the world concrete models of male-female cooperation in positions of responsibility and decision-making, the church will continue to struggle against charges that it is chauvinistic, said Mary Ann Glendon.

The Harvard law professor and president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences said church teaching that women and men are equal, but not identical, is a healthy corrective to the feminism of the late 20th century, which, she said, promoted a "unisex society."

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She said changes in the right direction can be seen in parishes and dioceses where "more and more priests, inspired by recent popes and comfortable with women" are relying on their talents and working with them for the benefit of the community.

She and [Lucetta] Scaraffia [a professor at Rome's La Sapienza University] argued that in any social institution directives from the top are essential, but lasting change flows from the grass roots up.

"The problem with the church today is the lack of women in positions of responsibility at the Vatican," Scaraffia said. "This must change and I believe it will," she added, saying her argument "has nothing to do with the question of women priests."

For the next 30 days, get the whole story on our Criterion Web site.

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