Orange-Line

GEC #18 Religion and Gender Equality

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Author: Salvatore Corradi – FM Chairman

On October 3, Pope Francis signed the encyclical on fraternity and social friendship entitled “All Brothers“, letter that has sparked not a few controversies. The Holy Father’s intentions were to sensitize the faithful to a better political activity, which was more “popular” and less “populist”, also paying particular attention to the issue of the inclusion of foreigners and those most in need. However, the document in question was received with disdain by some organizations because of the term “brothers” whose use, according to them, would be careless of gender equality. In response, the Holy See declared that that title is not misunderstandable as it refers to the words of St. Francis of Assisi.

If on the one hand the Christian world has reacted vehemently to a lack of clarification of gender, on the other hand in the Scandinavian countries a great milestone has recently been celebrated always on the gender equality front. For the first time in history, Sweden has achieved an exceptional record: it is the first nation in the world to have more female priests than men with a number of 1,533 priestesses out of 3,063 total priests. There are no better words than those uttered by a spokeswoman for the Swedish confession: “The Bible says that human beings, of both sexes, were created in the image and likeness of God. We demonstrate this with deeds and not just words”.

Almost thirty years have passed since the Church of England decided to grant women the right to be ordained as priests. However the result of Sweden beat all predictions as it was estimated that this overtaking would only take place in 2090, today various confessions admit the female priesthood, including Lutheran, Anglican, Methodist, Baptist and Waldensian ones but, as you certainly know, none of this is admitted in the Catholic Church.

In 1994 Pope John Paul II had published a long article in the newspaper of the Holy See in which he categorically forbade the possibility of ordination for women, a choice that a couple of years ago was promptly confirmed and reconfirmed by the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. (CDF) Ladaria, who silenced the issue by pronouncing a sharp “no“.

For all those who hoped and still hope that a change will take place in this sense, there is still some patience, but there are associations that have been operating for many decades such as Women’s Ordination Worldwide, which fight very incisively in defense of the argument. There are therefore elements that bode well; however, do not claim victory: in Sweden priestesses are still paid less than men!