By Sister Regina Siegfried, ASC

In October 1979, in another lifetime and two popes ago, Mercy Sister Theresa Kane publicly addressed Pope John Paul II at the National Shrine in Washington with these powerful and poignant words:

“I urge you to be mindful of the intense suffering and pain which is part of the life of many women in these United States. I call upon you to listen with compassion and to hear the call of women who comprise half of humankind.”

Pope Francis will visit the U.S. in September. He has certainly heard the cry of Earth; will he hear the cry of women in the church?

What do women want to tell him? Many women may have moved beyond the pain to advocate for a fair share of the places the Church has to offer its members.

Last Saturday in Chicago, Call to Action and other groups hosted a forum entitled “Women in the Catholic Church Today: What Pope Francis needs to Know.”

The topics included: Always at the center, but never at the front? The role of women in the Church; Called to serve but nowhere to go: addressing discrimination in Church service; Sex, sexuality, and other unmentionables, and family matters.”

Behind these tantalizing topics is the realization that women in the Church are baptized into equality in Christ. Often frustrated, sometimes angry, and frequently tired of insisting on our rightful place in Church ministry, many women nevertheless forge ahead because of the compelling message of the Gospel.

The priest shortage and ordination of women are only two issues among many that call for justice and fairness. Justice and fairness are two messages that Francis needs to hear from women in the Church who want the opportunity to preach the Gospel like Mary Magdalene, the first person to spread the Good News.


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