CNA Staff, Jul 20, 2020 / 10:10 am
Australian Catholic students have sent an open letter to the country’s bishops ahead of the upcoming Fifth Plenary Council of the Church in the country, urging the bishops to remain committed to the Church’s teaching and reject calls for the ordination of women.
“Many submissions to the Plenary Council have made the laudable recommendation that women be more effectively integrated into the existing governing structures of the Church,” says the letter, which was signed by more than 200 students and alumni associated with the Australian Catholic Students Association (ACSA). The lead signatory was the president of the ACSA, Alexander Kennedy.
“However, it was with great sadness that we note many submissions have called for a change to the very constitution of the Church also willed by Christ,” they added. “We call on the Plenary Council and the Bishops of Australia to reject unambiguously all calls for the ordination of women.”
The Fifth Plenary Council is scheduled to take place on October 3-10, 2021, in Adelaide, Australia, followed by a second assembly July 4-9, 2022 in Sydney. The dates were pushed back from their original schedule in October 2020 and mid-2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The students' letter explained that they fully support the respect owed to the roles women play in the Church, but that they, like St. Pope John Paul II and his successors, do not believe that these roles extend to ordination to the priesthood. Instead, they have “wholehearted support for the integration of women into even more prominent roles in areas such as sacred theology, communications, evangelization and (insofar as lay people are able) governance.”
ACSA Vice President Claudia Tohi added that “This letter expresses our longing to share Christ with others unashamed, with clarity and with the help of our leaders.”
“Truth,” said Tohi, “is not determined by the mood of the times, nor is it a mere abstract concept. Truth is a person, the Son of God who gave up His life for the salvation of all humankind.”
The emphasis on the lay vocation, they said, would be “far more encouraging of women than any tokenistic program or power-wrangling we have seen in some of the Plenary submissions.”