The Church is woman

Pope Francis highlighted the feminine dimension of the Church, emphasising the need for women’s perspective in theology.

Dec 08, 2023

Pope Francis greets members of the International Theological Commission (Vatican Media)

VATICAN: Pope Francis highlighted the feminine dimension of the Church, emphasising the need for women’s perspective in theology. “The Church is woman and if we do not understand what a woman is, what a woman’s theology is, we will never understand what the Church is.”

Asking pardon for speaking plainly, Pope Francis told members of the International Theological Commission (ITC) that “one of the great sins we have committed is ‘masculinising’ the Church,” which also can be seen by the fact that only five of the commission members are women.

The Pope, who appoints the 28 members of the commission, said the Church needs to make more progress in balancing such bodies because “women have a capacity for theological reflection that is different from what we men have.”

Pope Francis met members of the commission at the Vatican November 30. He handed them a prepared text, which he described as a “beautiful speech with theological things,” but said that because of his ongoing respiratory problems due to bronchitis, “it’s better that I don’t read it.”

Greeting members of the group, the Pope said that perhaps his conviction about the importance of women theologians comes from the fact that, “I’ve studied a lot the theology of a woman,” ? “Hanna-Barbara Gerl-Falkovitz, and her work on Fr Romano Guardini, a German priest, philosopher and theologian, who died in 1968.”

Coincidently, Gerl-Falkovitz is one of four German women who wrote to the pontiff about their concerns regarding the German Catholic Church’s Synodal Path. In a letter published by a German newspaper Nov 21, Pope Francis responded to the women saying, “I, too, share this concern about the numerous concrete steps that are now being taken by large parts of this local Church that threaten to move further and further away from the common path of the universal Church.”

He told members of the commission that at the next meeting of his international Council of Cardinals, “we will have a reflection on the feminine dimension of the Church.”

The problem “is not solved in a ministerial way, that’s another thing,” he said, repeating his belief in the concept that in the Church, there is a “Petrine principle” and a “Marian principle” that describe the important but different roles women and men play in the Catholic Church.

“You can debate this, but the two principles are there,” the Pope said. “It is more important to have the Marian [dimension] than the Petrine,” because the Church is the bride of Christ.

Pope Francis said having more women on the commission would help, but the theologians also need to dedicate more energy to studying the issue and to “de-masculinising” the Church. “This is a task I ask of you, please. Unmask the Church.”

This should lead not only to more women represented in the ITC, but to greater reflection on the Church as woman and as bride. “This is a task I ask of you, please. Unmask the Church.”

Pope Francis also encouraged commission members to continue work on “an evangelising theology that promotes dialogue with the world of culture,” and decides what questions and challenges to focus on by listening to concerns that come from the grassroots.

The Pope then noted the Commission’s work on anthropological and ecological questions, while focusing especially on their “updated and incisive reflection on the permanent relevance of the Trinitarian and Christological faith confessed by Nicaea,” which is being undertaken in preparation for the 1700th anniversary of the first Ecumenical Council.

Pope Francis highlighted the spiritual, synodal, and ecumenical significance of the Council of Nicea.

Theologians, he said, are called “to spread new and surprising gleams of Christ’s eternal light in the house of the Church and in the darkness of the world.”

The Pope insisted that synodality “is the way to translate into attitudes of communion and processes of communion, the Trinitarian dynamic with which God, through Christ and in the breath of the Holy Spirit, comes to humanity”; while theologians have the responsibility “of unleashing the richness of this wonderful ‘humanising energy’.”

Finally, the Holy Father recalled the ecumenical significance of the anniversary, noting that all “disciples of Jesus” are united in professing the Creed proclaimed at Nicaea. He noted that in 2025, the year of the anniversary, all Christians will celebrate Easter on the same date, saying, “How beautiful it would be if it marked the concrete start of an always common celebration of Easter!”

He invited those present to “carry this dream in our hearts, and invoke the creativity of the Spirit, so that the light of the Gospel and of communion may shine more brightly.” -- CNS/Vatican News

Total Comments:0