The #MeToo global movement presents an opportunity for the Church to engage in important issues of gender equity and justice, says the head of the National Office for Participation of Women. Source: MelbourneCatholic.org.au.
Andrea Dean, Director of the Office established by the Australian Catholic Bishops to promote the participation of women in the Church, says the situation offers a chance to revaluate the shifting role of women in the Church.
“Narratives about one group of powerful people exploiting another group can open our eyes to understand the call to justice more clearly,” she says.
“The #MeToo movement is a gift to society as it brings hidden abuse into the light in the same way that the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is gift to the Catholic Church as it has brought hidden abuse into the light.”
Ms Dean says this stretches far beyond sexual abuse and harassment, and concerns systemic abuse of power, something the Church is dealing with in the wake of the royal commission.
“It is apparent that the Catholic Church’s problem is not so much the sexual exploitation of women, but the abuse of power,” Ms Dean says. “This abuse of power has damaged the lives of too many children.
“Some women in the Catholic Church — though certainly not all — feel that the intractable link between ordination and power sets up a disparity between ordained men and lay women that fosters injustice and exploitation.
“These are legitimate concerns and addressing them will no doubt take time. For the Church to remain relevant throughout this movement and beyond, it should aim for parity where there has been a disparity. This would mean equal numbers of women in leadership positions, and some degree of transparency in pay scales to eliminate the possibility of a gender pay gap.”
#metoo and the Church (MelbourneCatholic.org.au)