Vatican meets with women theologians over Church roles

Tracey Rowland

Australian Tracey Rowland was among women theologians and other scholars who met with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith this week to discuss roles women have played and could play in the Church. Catholic News Service reports.

After the symposium from Monday to Wednesday was over, the congregation issued a brief statement outlining the topics discussed and listing the women who made formal presentations.

Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect of the doctrinal congregation, opened the meeting, which involved about 50 people, mostly women, and officials and consultants to the congregation, the statement said.

The theme of "the role of women in the Church" was explored first by looking at "the definition of the feminine vocation in Catholic tradition," and proceeded to a discussion about concrete roles women have played and can play within the church.

All of the main papers were presented by women, several of whom are or have been members of the Vatican-related International Theological Commission or the International Biblical Commission. Others serve as consultants to Vatican offices or professors at Catholic universities.

The doctrinal congregation did not provide specifics about the content of the talks. It said, for example, that Barbara Hallensleben, a theologian teaching in Switzerland, looked at the "feminine vocation" starting from the idea of the priesthood of all the baptised and in the sacrament of marriage. Margaret Harper McCarthy, a professor at The Catholic University of America in Washington, gave the formal response.

French biblicist Anne-Marie Pelletier and Mary Healy, a professor of Scripture at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit, spoke about the important contributions of women scholars to biblical studies, the statement said.

Other topics included the role of women in the education of priests; women as spiritual directors and retreat directors; canon law provisions regarding women's roles in Church decision-making bodies; and "sexual difference," a theme treated by Spanish anthropologist Blanca Castilla Cortazar and Australian theologian Tracey Rowland, dean of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Melbourne.

FULL STORY

Doctrinal congregation convokes meeting on role of women in the Church