A nun has spoken out for more leadership for women in Catholicism, insisting that on that issue “the Lord wants a change in the Church”.

– “The Church is not exempt from the obligation to grow for maturity”

Sister Mina Kwon, the director of the Counselling Centre in the College of Medicine at the Daegu Catholic University in South Korea, reminded Crux July 15 that “historically and spiritually, Jesus’ early community included men and women, and treated all equally”.

Kwon said for that reason it was imperative that the Church act on Jesus’ mandate of “equality and inclusion”, and address the “clericalism or outdated traditions” that often sideline religious and laywomen from leadership and decision-making in the institution.

Speaking particularly from her experience as a nun battling against the “old habits and rigid hierarchy” in the Korean Church, Kwon denounced that “still not all women religious work in equal conditions”.

“We, women religious, need more initiative to improve on the matter of women and children in the Church”, the Korean sister added.

But as for the status of women more generally in the Church, Kwon said it was vital that the Church set out on a path of growth to open up leadership roles to the gender to which more than half of its members belong.

“All things are invited to the process of evolution. None are exempt from the obligation to grow for maturity, and [the] Catholic Church is also no exception to this rule”, the nun insisted.

This “maturity”, she went on, “is an intrinsic requirement of the Church. We all need to ask ourselves [the] question: What are the places where women religious can flourish within the church? And what would Jesus do in our modern time?”

– “Women in the future Church should get a vote in the Synod of Bishops”

A good place for the Church to begin that journey towards the maturity of equal rights for the sexes, according to Kwon, is by allowing women to take a more active part in bishops’ summits like last October’s Amazon Synod in the Vatican.

The nun – a participant in the 2018 Vatican Synod of Bishops on youth – insisted that “women in the future Church should get a vote in the Synod of Bishops”, adding that that vote was not a feminist issue but an issue, again, based on the inclusive, women-welcoming example of Jesus.

With respect to her call for votes for women in synods, Kwon recalled that the two umbrella groups for male and female religious -the Union of Superiors General (USG) and the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), respectively – already agreed in a meeting during the 2018 Youth Synod that “the voice of women should be more heard, and the question of the presence of the sisters in the synod also should be raised”.

“What a hopeful collaboration!”, Kwon rejoiced.

– Thanks to prelates showing “courage” by “powerfully” addressing Catholic women’s issues

In her conversation with Crux, Kwon was responding to French Bishops’ president Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, who in an interview released last week said he could imagine a future in which the Holy See is “led by the Pope surrounded by a College of Cardinals in which there will be women” and admitted he was “flabbergasted” by the veto on women voting in synods.

“To say that only bishops vote would seem logical. But from the moment that priests and non-ordained religious brothers are allowed to vote, I don’t understand why women religious are not allowed to vote”, de Moulins-Beaufort acknowledged.

Kwon praised de Moulins-Beaufort, the Archbishop of Reims, for those sentiments on the issue of women’s inclusion.

She also thanked both the French Bishops’ president and the former German Bishops’ president Cardinal Reinhard Marx – who likewise has been a staunch supporter of Catholic women’s demands for greater visibility – for both prelates’ “courage” in “powerfully” addressing issues around the place of women in the Church.

More stories on Novena on the push for equal rights for Catholic women:

“Something must change”: Pallottine vice-provincial calls for women’s ordination, part-time married priests

German lay head urges married, female priests to halt “catastrophe” of vocations slide

French Bishops’ head ‘gets it’ on rights for women, laity: “The Church cannot act as if humans were children who must be held by the hand”

Catholic Women’s Council launches website to demand equal rights and dignity for females in the Church

Novena guest article: “It is time for the Pope to apologise for the patriarchal sexism that has excluded women”

Cardinal Marx joins chorus of voices for more women’s leadership in Church, says matter “urgent”


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