Panelists at the "Faith, Feminism, and Being Unfinished" conference in Georgetown, 2023: (Left to right) Annie Selak, Teresa Delgado, Lin Henke, Alice McDermott, Angele White, and Mary Hunt (Leslie Kossoff/Georgetown University)

From the very beginning of his papacy, Pope Francis has encouraged Catholics to recognize women’s contributions to the life of the Church. In last year’s meeting of the synod, he called it an “urgent” matter to give women more responsibility in the ministry and leadership of the Church at all levels. 

In response to these calls, Georgetown University’s Women's Center hosted an event titled “Faith, Feminism, and Being Unfinished: The Question of Women’s Ordination” in April 2023. Panelists discussed the work of Anne E. Patrick, SNJM, a moral theologian and an organizer of the first Women’s Ordination Conference, held in 1975. While the question of women’s ordination to the diaconate is under consideration at the synod, the Church has definitively rejected their ordination to the priesthood.

We asked four participants in the Georgetown panel to continue the conversation. In what ways are women excluded from and undervalued in the life of the Church? What does the Church lose by marginalizing women? How are women still managing to lead from the margins? Some of the contributors discuss their own frustrated calling to the priesthood. But there are other, subtler ways that, in their roles as ministers, mothers, daughters, scholars, and neighbors, women are made to feel less valuable than men. When women are excluded, it’s the whole Body of Christ that suffers—all of us who could be benefiting from their ministry and their gifts.

Read the symposium articles here:

“Women at the Altar” - Jane Varner Malhotra
“Moving the Center” - Mary E. Hunt
“Distorting the Gospel” - Teresa Delgado
“Why Not Women?" - Alice McDermott

And if you're interested in discussing this series of articles with your classroom, parish, reading group, or Commonweal Local Community, click here for a free discussion guide.

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Published in the May 2024 issue: View Contents
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