French Catholic women launch manifesto on feminine vocation in the Church

ben white qYanN54gIrI unsplash A young woman prays in a church. | Ben White via Unsplash.

A group of Catholic women in France has launched a manifesto to underscore the “beauty of the women's specific vocation.”

The idea for the manifesto arose right after the publication of Pope Francis' motu proprio Spiritus Domini. Issued on Jan. 10, 2021, the motu proprio changed Church law to permit women to exercise the lay ministries of lector and acolyte. In much of the world, women had already served the role of reading at Mass, although without being officially instituted in the “ministry” of lector.

The manifesto can be found on the La Vocation du Feminines website. As of Friday afternoon, it had attracted some 500 signatures. 

The manifesto states that “the issue of the presence of the woman in the temple, and the obstinacy to back married priesthood or female priesthood are, to us, the symptoms of a grave liturgical crisis rooted in a deeper anthropological crisis which deals with the man/woman complementarity.”

The signatories stress that “every Catholic should be concerned about this deep malaise.”

“While we are becoming aware of the danger of clericalism, we paradoxically forget that women are excluded from the Church hierarchy for the good of all the Church,” it says, and underscores that “now more than ever, the vocation of women has been represented in such a cartoonish and impoverished way.” 

The text notes that “the tradition to leave women away from the altar is very ancient, present both in the Eastern and the Western tradition. However, Christianity has always taught that men and women are equal in dignity.”

The manifesto  points to examples of influential women in the Church, like Catherine of Siena and Joan of Arc.

It also emphasizes that God “gave us his Son through the Virgin Mary,” and “in her, the love of God finds its irrevocable home,” and “we are all debtors with this feminine 'yes.'”

“Young girls should not be encouraged to engage in a climate of struggle and demands,” the signatories say. “They should be encouraged to grow and account for their own talents and charisms. They must receive the fact of being a woman, for what it means: a remarkable grace!”

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On the other hand, they say, boys must be educated to “the fear of God, the disinterested gift of themselves, and the admiration of the feminine and male human body.”

“As Catholic women, aware of our Marian privilege, we choose to put our energies and talents at the service of the effective complementarity of man and woman,” the document says.

The manifesto ends with a tone of encouragement to Catholic bishops willing to stand up to the pressures of “gender ideology” within the Church.

“We are aware that our pastors, in order to be faithful to their evangelical call and to the biblical and ecclesial traditions, have to undergo pressure and that they will still have a lot to suffer. We assure them of our prayer and our fraternal affection, so that their celibacy offered and united to the One Sacrifice may always be more and more fruitful,” the signatories say.

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