We are at a crossroads for women in the church

Sr Joan Chittister

The Jesuit philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote: 'The only task worthy of our efforts is to construct the future.' My concern is how to construct a new future for women through the global outreach of the church, writes Joan Chittister.

- NCR Online

The 6th-century philosopher Boethius reminds us that every age that is dying is simply a new age coming to life. A second insight that gets my attention comes from Woody Allen 15 centuries later: 'I'm not afraid of dying; I just don't want to be there when it happens.'

Both messages are clear: first, continuity can go too far. Second, to fail to face the moment we're in can fail the future that's coming with or without us and whether we like it or not.

Point: This is a crossover moment in history. This is the moment when history discovered women.

In fact, intelligent men as well as intelligent women realize now that feminism is not about femaleness. It's not about female chauvinism either, or feminismo machismo. And it's definitely not about women wanting to act like men.

Feminism is about allowing every member of the human race to become a fully functioning human adult, to make choices at every level of society, to participate in the decision-making that affects their lives, to be financially independent, to be safe on the streets, secure in their homes, to have a voice in the courts and constitutional bodies of the world - to enjoy, in other words, full and equal civil rights.

It is about bringing to public visibility and public agency the agendas, the insights, and the wisdom of the other half of the human race. It is about taking their ideas and plans seriously. No! Correction: It is about taking the theology of creation seriously. It is, in other words, about this century's 'emancipation proclamation' of women.

And since it is 2,000 years after Jesus himself modeled it, it can hardly be argued that we're rushing things.

Pope Francis, clearly sensitive to the issue, has himself brought up the notion of launching a study of women, the very thought of which coming out of Rome is at least as earth-shaking as seriously expecting Rome to do something serious about it.

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