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Bless women in the Church

Madam -- Pope Benedict has recently intensified the official opposition to the ordination of women. Any voice raised against this injustice is seen as heretical and duly silenced. One expects our leaders to be making an honest attempt to make sense to the world. I can never begin to understand what twisted logic can be invoked to sustain the Catholic Church's attitude to women's ministry. It seems to be backed by some gratuitous assertion about men as leaders or more fitting representations of the male figure of Christ.

Inequality in the treatment of women has characterised our society throughout the centuries. The fact that this has always been the case, however, can never function as a justification.

Logically, the presumption is in favour of treating men and women in exactly in the same manner unless there are relevant reasons for doing otherwise. The onus is on the Catholic Church to demonstrate that there are relevant reasons for discrimination against women when it comes to ordination; what is offered is not a reason but a presumed God-given authority to do so.

The Church seems to have inherited the spirit of the practices of Judaism that existed in Christ's time and which he confronted.

The synagogue prayers began with: "Blessed art Thou, O Lord, who has not made me a woman". Women were screened off from view in the synagogue, they could be divorced at will; they themselves had no right to divorce.

Women were excluded from all forms of social contact with others. They were seen as a threat to men because of their sexual allure. No wonder the rabbis were thankful not to be women.

Jesus Christ was born into a culture where women were second-class citizens. He did not preach against the culture in which he found himself but ignored it. Some of his best friends were women; they followed him to the bitter end. It was to women that he first communicated the Easter message; it was they who brought the good news of his resurrection to the world; there was not a man in sight, they had run away and hidden from the authorities. Would that the Church would follow the example of Christ and restore to women the respect that is their due.

Philip O'Neill,


Sunday Independent