After individual meetings over the past month with the Pope’s nuncio in Paris, Frenchwomen aiming to shatter the stained-glass ceiling and access traditionally male-only Catholic roles have shared their dream of an “egalitarian Church truly inspired by the message of Christ”.

A plea for “equality of responsibility for all in the Church”

Full text of the statement of the French Catholic female “apostles”

(Source: Catholic Women’s Council)

We are seven women, called to different functions within the Catholic Church.

Strengthened by this call, on July 22, we submitted to the Apostolic Nunciature in France our candidacies for the positions of deacons, lay preacher, parish priest, nuncio and bishop.

Recently, between September 14 and October 2, 2020, we were each invited to an individual audience by the Apostolic Nuncio in France. We thank Celestino Migliore for this gesture of openness and for his kind listening. He was able to hear the diversity of our realities as women and of our vocations. He shows that dialogue is possible.

However, we were not there in our personal capacity; it is for the equality of responsibility for all in the Church that we have pleaded. Cordial listening does not make up for a reform.

We also recall that, to date, Anne Soupa has yet to receive an answer to her candidacy at the Archdiocese of Lyon, which was made public on May 25, 2020. Her letter is in the hands of the Nuncio.

We are convinced that the Church is at a turning point in its history. It must now recognize – in words and especially in deeds – that women are legitimate to hold all positions, be they secular or ordained, of governance or spiritual.

The Church, as an institution, must finally go beyond its prevarications and open wide its doors to women. If it wants to remain faithful to Christ, it must remember that Christ never used gender criteria.

Our candidacies have given rise to unprecedented dialogues, around us and abroad, confirming that many of us wish for a renewed Church. To make it happen, we will continue to carry our message with determination and we invite all women who wish so to make their vocation known; we will be there to support them.

Individual statements of the 7 candidates

Loan Rocher – received on September 14

In a cordial atmosphere, I spoke of my desire to be a deacon, so that I can work for the unconditional welcome of those who feel rejected by their church. In particular, I mentioned the LGBTQI+ believers, who often have no choice but to be Christians at the periphery.

He listened, being the good diplomat that he is, and reminded me of tradition. I offered him the book about the Bethany Communion: Homosexuals and transgender, seekers of God.

Marie-Automne Thepot – received on September 18

Why deprive itself of women when the help of all believers is imperative to think and implement an ambitious and committed Church, at the ready ahead of this century’s challenges? I was able to present to the nuncio my plea for shared responsibilities between women and men, clerics and laity. I also suggested that one needs to show boldness to make concrete progress on this issue, though I feel that the exchange I was hoping for about possible solutions did not really take place.

Sylvaine Landrivon – received on September 22

In a warm and open exchange, we have evoked difficult subjects: how the theoretical will to declericalize our Church is met with an inverse authoritarian reaction in many dioceses; how Church is open to women but only to administrative positions unrelated to the transmission of the Word.

A question unfortunately found no answer: what to do today when one is a secular woman called to serve with one’s spiritual, intellectual, “goods” a Church that one loves with a solid faith?

Laurence de Bourbon-Parme – received on September 25

His welcome and his listening were very warm. It was an intense moment for me.

I shared my spiritual experiences with him. As his listening was profound, he answered me on a personal level. Through my words, he heard some of the needs of women.

Claire Conan-Vrinat – received on September 28

Mutual listening was kind, sometimes cheerful and sometimes attentive. We debated, in a reciprocated openness, on the access of women to ordination. I was able to explain with determination my conviction that Jesus did not choose to found a clergy, let alone a clergy of men, and that the opening of the diaconate and the priesthood to women would help in the battle against clericalism desired by Pope Francis. In the current French context, I have called for the Church to come out of an endless reflection with itself, like two mirrors facing each other. We agreed on the need for hope and trust… and I added, “We also need action!”

Hélène Pichon – received on October 1

I was pleased to address the issue of the presence of women in leadership positions in the Church with a Nuncio who, from Geneva to New York, from the Council of Europe to the UN, was accompanied by dozens of brilliant and highly competent women. Likewise, Pope Francis, convinced of the excellence of women and their perfect ability to exercise leadership positions in the Church, has appointed women to head the Vatican Bank and as Vatican Secretaries of State.

I spoke with Celestino Migliore about gender equality in the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church and invited him to develop with us the vision of an egalitarian Church truly inspired by the message of Christ, entirely inclusive. I reminded him that indeed, in view of the 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, we do not have a second to lose!

Christina Moreira – received on October 2

After years of successive popes invariably repeating that “the door was closed,” a door opened. A benevolent and empathetic man of the Church welcomed me, heard me and I felt understood. I felt “at home”, recognized and nurtured by a bond. It was a meeting for hope, the proof that anything is possible.

More news on Novena from the Church in France:

After meeting nuncio, French women “apostles” aspiring to ordination lament Church “still robbing itself of 50% of the genius of humanity”

Would-be female archbishop Anne Soupa: “When there are more women in positions of responsibility in the Church, there will be less abuse”

Female candidates for male-only Church roles in France: “Jesus never wanted a hierarchical structure that would exclude women”

Female Catholic priest, to hierarchy: “If you don’t want women to celebrate the sacraments, console and bless… stop baptising us!”

July 2020: Nuncio in France to meet with women ‘apostles’ seeking place in Church hierarchy as would-be female bishop receives death threat

7 women ‘apostles’ claim place in male-only Catholic hierarchy: “The Church is in a deep crisis, and we need to open up its doors”

7 women “apostles” apply for male-only ministries in Church to challenge “immense injustice” of Catholic sexism

Avatar
Author

Progressive Catholic journalist, author and educator. Working on social justice, equality and Church renewal.