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Co-authors Kathleen McPhillips and Tracy McEwan (University of Newcastle)

The findings of an international research project on the views of Catholic women led by two Australian academics will be presented at the Vatican this week to coincide with International Women’s Day. Source: Sydney Morning Herald. 

The largest study of Catholic women in the Church’s 2000-year history has found they are hungry for reform. They resent their lack of decision-making power, want to follow their consciences on sex and contraception, and think the Church should be more inclusive of the diverse and the divorced.

Australian researchers led the global study, to be presented at the Vatican on International Women’s Day, which also found women want to be allowed to preach, dislike priests promoting political agendas, and are concerned about a lack of transparency in Church governance.

Co-author Tracy McEwan, a theologian and sociologist of religion at the University of Newcastle, said the study found some women felt an “underlying sense of hurt” and a “feeling of being voiceless and ignored.”

The study, which surveyed 17,200 women from 140 countries, comes as Pope Francis leads the Church in a discussion about whether women should have a greater role in its governance and ceremonies. He has ruled out female priests, but the diaconate is a possibility.

Dr McEwan will present the findings to female ambassadors to the Holy See on Wednesday. They will include Australia’s representative, Chiara Porro, who helped organise the presentation. 

The results varied between countries. Australia was more conservative than the global average on some of the indicators; 74 per cent of women said they wanted reform, compared with the global average of 84. Appetite for change was strongest in Ireland, Spain and Germany.

Younger women were also more conservative than older ones, with the age group 18-to-25 least likely to want reform, according to the survey, and those over 70 most likely. 


‘Sick of it’: Catholic women vent frustration over sex, power and abuse (By Jordan Baker, Sydney Morning Herald)


Catholic women’s cries for change to be heard at the Vatican on IWD (University of Newcastle)

Catholic women angry with Church (ABC Radio)