Four quotations from two women and two men. For reflection and discussion on this THIRD Sunday of Lent:
“I really believe that nothing is going to change in the world until the situation of women changes… You cannot simply dismiss over half of the human race, which means dismiss their agendas, dismiss their needs, dismiss their gifts, dismiss their intelligence.” Sr. Joan Chittister, Benedictine nun, author and speaker
“This is a challenge that cannot be put off any longer…. All institutions, including the church community, are called to guarantee the freedom of choice for women so that they might have the chance to take on social and ecclesial responsibilities, in a way that is in harmony with family life.” Pope Francis, Bishop of Rome
“The fact that the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Mother of the Church, received neither the mission proper to the Apostles nor the ministerial priesthood clearly shows that the non-admission of women to priestly ordination cannot mean that women are of lesser dignity, nor can it be construed as discrimination against them. Rather, it is to be seen as the faithful observance of a plan to be ascribed to the wisdom of the Lord of the universe.” Pope John Paul II, former Bishop of Rome
“In the last twenty years, the history of women in ancient Christianity has been almost completely revised. As women historians entered the field in record numbers, they brought with them new questions, developed new methods, and sought for evidence of women’s presence in neglected texts and exciting new findings…..After the death of Jesus, women continued to play prominent roles in the early movement. Some scholars have even suggested that the majority of Christians in the first century may have been women…..
“Paul’s letters also offer some important glimpses into the inner workings of ancient Christian churches. These groups did not own church buildings but met in homes, no doubt due in part to the fact that Christianity was not legal in the Roman world of its day and in part because of the enormous expense to such fledgling societies. Such homes were a domain in which women played key roles. It is not surprising then to see women taking leadership roles in house churches. Paul tells of women who were the leaders of such house churches (Apphia in Philemon 2; Prisca in I Corinthians 16:19). This practice is confirmed by other texts that also mention women who headed churches in their homes, such as Lydia of Thyatira (Acts 16:15) and Nympha of Laodicea (Colossians 4:15). Women held offices and played significant roles in group worship. Paul, for example, greets a deacon named Phoebe (Romans 16:1) and assumes that women are praying and prophesying during worship (I Corinthians 11). As prophets, women’s roles would have included not only ecstatic public speech, but preaching, teaching, leading prayer, and perhaps even performing the eucharist meal. (A later first century work, called the Didache, assumes that this duty fell regularly to Christian prophets.)” Karen L. King, Harvard Divinity School