Reflection by Aidan Troy [Aodhán O Troighthigh] Please note: the view of the above alone.
Pope Francis recently wrote an Apostolic Exhortation, “Gaudete et Exsultate’ with 176 paragraphs on the call to holiness in today’s world, encouraging us to become saints! Early on, in par. 12, we read: “I would stress too that the “genius of woman” is seen in feminine styles of holiness, which are an essential means of reflecting God’s holiness in this world.”
Pope Francis goes on to point to some great women as canonised Saints and then adds, “But I think too of those unknown or forgotten women who, each in her own way, sustained and transformed families and communities by the power of their witness.” [Par. 12]
Pope Francis chose Dublin, Ireland, for the ‘World Meeting of Families’ in August 2018. The theme chosen by the Pope is, “The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World”. There will be workshops, talks and discussions for adults, others for young people and children. If possible, I would love to be present for the Papal Mass at Croke Park to close the Meeting.
Far more important than whether I or any other priest will be on the Altar with the Pope, will be the manner in which the World Meeting of Families treats the role of women in the family and in the Church. There will not be opportunity to delve deeply into this crucial topic in the space of a few days, even in Dublin!
Last week, the Pontifical Commission for Latin America suggested that Pope Francis plan a Synod of Bishops, “to seriously pose the theme of women in the life and mission of the church.” [La Croix 16 April 2018, pg. 11] This year’s Synod in October will address the vocation of young people. 2019 Synod will have the theme of the Amazon for the world.
Those of us who love St Joseph’s, know that women are at the core of our life and mission. This in no way is intended to belittle the role of great Passionists who have served at avenue Hoche since 1869. Neither is it in any way a comparison with the dedicated, heroic male parishioners who have provided a staunch backbone in our community over those years.
The Holy Spirit, I feel, is urging a search of Scripture and a reading of the signs of our times, to discover God’s guidance on what further gifts and blessing He wants to give to His church through ‘the genius of woman’, to quote Pope Francis.
When I hear that some roles in the church are closed to women, I hear the beautiful echo of the words of Scripture, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ;” [St Paul to the Galatians, 3/28-29] How beautiful is this dream of Christ!
Today is known as Vocations Sunday, when prayers will be offered that God inspire men to consider Priesthood or Diaconate. This is good and necessary – prayer is essential. My conviction is that throughout the world, the Body of Christ is well-served by Deacons. Male Deacons are ordained. The service of women in our Church may not need ordination for effective ministry, but are the reasons to withhold Sacred Orders still valid today?
My prayer is that soon there will be a Synod of Bishops for the universal church, whose planning involves input from women. A principle to guide Synod preparation could be that nothing be ruled out until the Spirit speaks to us of the plan of God for His Body in this 3rd Millennium. This also will be part of my prayer on this Vocations’ Sunday.