“Empowered women will save the Earth, empowered women will save the Church”, supporters of the ordination of women have told the Amazon Synod in the Vatican.

Driving the news

Activists of the Women’s Ordination Worldwide campaign group (Wow) led a prayer vigil and procession near the Vatican Tuesday.

That was to remind the hierarchy of the important role women already play in the Church worldwide, as well as to demand the ordination of women to both the diaconate and the priesthood.

The vigil took place just metres away from where on Monday two ultraconservative individuals threw supposedly “pagan” Amazon Synod fertility statuettes stolen from a nearby church into the Tiber river.


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The big picture

“Our Church and our Earth are in crisis – and empowering women in roles that they are already serving in their communities is a solution. We’re advocating for equality and that includes ordination”, said Kate McElwee, a Rome-based representative of Wow and Executive Director of the Women’s Ordination Conference.

“Empowering women would save the Church”.

Miriam Duignan, from Wow in the UK, decried the “massive injustice” that is the exclusion of women from positions of responsibility in the Church, and said the consequences of the Catholic boycott of women are “far-reaching beyond the Church”.

“It’s not just a matter of who stands at the altar each Sunday and blesses the bread”, Duignan explained.

“Women are silenced and sidelined, and this has a tidal effect beyond the priesthood in terms of how women are seen”.

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Go deeper

“Without women there would be no Catholic Church in the Amazon region”, Duignan declared.

“We want to remind everybody that women are already working in priestly ministry and diaconal ministry across the Amazon region”, she told reporters, before the women assembled at the vigil said prayers and sang songs.

Those women were dressed in purple and green, the colours of the suffragette and ecological movements.

Duignan explained that the Wow movement and its supporters were calling on Pope Francis to recognise that women in the Amazon are already “undertaking priestly roles without having the title of priest”.

In other words, the solution to the vocations crisis in the region shouldn’t be “organising yet more men”, Duignan explained, since more male priests would “supplant” the role of the women already “doing the work”.

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Why it matters

“It is a matter of urgent justice that the role that women are playing is recognised”, Duignan insisted.

“Now we as a church must finally deliver justice for women and ordain women” to both the diaconate and the priesthood, she added.

Duignan called on the Church hierarchy to stop “quibbling over medieval, manmade, technical differences between what the sacramental rite can and should be and what men and women can and should be and how they’re different”.

Men and women “are not different when it comes to allowing women to do the work”, she observed.

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What’s next

As the Amazon Synod enters its final stretch, The Tablet has learned that a proposal to ordain women deacons will be included in the final Synod document, to be voted on October 26.

In a Facebook post, Wow welcomed the possibility of a women’s diaconate coming out of the Synod as “a sign of progress”.

The movement celebrated that it was “the first time that such a move for women has made it into a synod final document”.

“It would be a step forward but still a way’s to go”, Wow added.

In a statement on Tuesday’s vigil and procession, Wow called on Pope Francis “to publicly acknowledge that a majority of attendees of the Synod support women deacons and witness their ministries daily in the Amazon region”.

“We are joining the call for ecological justice which cannot be separated from the call for spiritual and sacramental equality”, the movement added.

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