Practising Catholic and former Spanish Defence Minister María Dolores de Cospedal has blasted the Catholic Church’s veto on women priests, calling it “monumental nonsense and a manifest injustice”.

Driving the news

The Catholic Church “doesn’t consider women as fundamental for leading, thinking or deciding, but only to carry out orders, help and work”, Cospedal denounced in a December 9 column in Spanish paper El Mundo.

The People’s Party (conservative) politician, who is also the former president of the region of Castilla-La Mancha, decried that in El Mundo‘s recent list of the 500 most influential women in Spain there was not one female religious figure.

That was in contrast to the dozens of powerful women highlighted by the paper from fields such as culture, science, politics and business.

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Cospedal analysed the Amazon Synod’s October call to ordain married men to the priesthood, but recognised that “there are fears that if the pontiff takes this decision, ecclesiastical celibacy will be questioned, which is not a dogma of the Church but a rule or custom”.

Another point of the Amazon Synod discussions and final document was the “possibility of expanding ‘the spaces for a more incisive female presence in the Church'”, the politician recalled.

During the debates on that issue, she continued, “the need to study the female diaconate was raised on the grounds that this possibility existed in the early Church”.

Francis has promised to study the female diaconate, Cospedal admitted.

But she denounced that, that future study aside, “of the 35 women who participated in the Synod (18 of them nuns), none had the right to vote” on the Synod final document.

“The same did not happen with the representatives of male religious congregations, who since last year can already vote in the synods, as can the bishops”, the politician deplored.

Why it matters

Beyond her analysis of the Amazon Synod, Cospedal admitted that three things in the current Catholic Church “surprise” her particularly.

“That not for one moment does the Church consider that the vocations problem can be solved by permitting the ordination of women priests; that before that the Church raises the possibility of ordaining married priests; and that the reason for exploring whether women can devote themselves to something more than the ‘functional’ aspect [in the Church] must be found in the early Church”, the politician explained.

And that last point – on the ‘example’ of the early Church – “when the social and legal conditions that women had two thousand years ago cannot be applied today to half of the Catholic population”, Cospedal protested.

For the record

There is much talk today on the possible abolition of compulsory priestly celibacy, Cospedal concluded, that focuses on the presumed benefits to the end of the practice: in essence, less hypocrisy and fewer cases of abuse.

“However, talk about women’s priesthood is treated as a minor matter” and a “quaint” or “exaggerated” demand, the politician decried.

“The ecclesiastical hierarchy speaks of [the] absolute impossibility” of ordaining women, arguing that “the apostles were twelve only and twelve men”, Cospedal denounced.

The bishops also attempt to argue, she added, “that the role of women in the Catholic Church is fundamental, but can’t be [that role] by which one enters the hierarchy and the decision-making bodies”.

“In short”, Cospedal complained, the Church’s ban on women priests is “monumental nonsense and a manifest injustice”.

“The clearly sexist image it projects provokes the rejection of so many young women to the tenets of a Church which, as in the case of many of them, is mine”, the politician lamented.

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‘Pope’s theologian’ convinced that “in time, doors will be opened” to women at altar

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