The Catholic Church is not going to change its position on the inadmissibility of women priests, Pope Francis said in his apostolic exortation released yesterday, but it does have to stop linking all decision making to ordination and allow women to have a voice in deliberations, reports the Catholic News Service/Catholic Herald. Francis also called for the Church to embrace the new evangelisation with joy, and called for a 'sound decentralisation' of the way the Church is run, reports The Tablet.
In his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), Pope Francis wrote that the involvement of all Catholics is needed – both as missionaries and in revising structures and pastoral programmes to ensure they are focused on mission.
'I readily acknowledge that many women share pastoral responsibilities with priests, helping to guide people, families and groups and offering new contributions to theological reflection,' the Pope wrote.
At the same time, he said, 'demands that the legitimate rights of women be respected, based on the firm conviction that men and women are equal in dignity, present the Church with profound and challenging questions which cannot be lightly evaded.
'The reservation of the priesthood to males, as a sign of Christ the spouse who gives himself in the Eucharist, is not a question open to discussion,' the Pope said, 'but it can prove especially divisive if sacramental power is too closely identified with power in general.'
The idea that ordination equals power not only robs the Church of valuable contributions from women, he said, it presents a misguided view of the priesthood and the sacraments.
'The configuration of the priest to Christ the head – namely, as the principal source of grace – does not imply an exaltation which would set him above others,' Pope Francis wrote. 'In the Church, functions "do not favor the superiority of some vis-a-vis the others."'
Even when considering the priest’s role within the hierarchical structure of the Church, he said, 'it must be remembered that "it is totally ordered to the holiness of Christ’s members." Its key and axis is not power understood as domination, but the power to administer the sacrament of the Eucharist; this is the origin of its authority, which is always a service to God’s people.'
Pope says only men can be priests, but women must have voice in Church (The Catholic Herald)
Pope seeks advice on papal power reforms (SkyNews)
FULL TRANSCRIPT OF EXHORTATION
Evangelii Gaudium (Vatican Home Page)