Lucie T Leduc
On this International Women’s Day, as I write this letter, women around the world suffer the indignity and humiliation of being treated as property, as second-class citizens, or as disempowered pawns in games of power and pleasure. They suffer horrific losses and seek refuge from war and violence. War robs them of the boys and men they have given birth to, and of their dignity and voice due to traumas such as violent rape and other abhorrent violence to their bodies and persons. Too often, refuge denied them.
In the first world, while conditions have improved for women, there is an awareness of the plight of women everywhere, and the long journey ahead to liberate ourselves and our sisters around the world from the dehumanizing powerlessness and voiceless humiliation that comes with lack of education, equal voice in all spheres of living, financial resources, health and wellbeing for wholeness and fullness of life. Of this and so much more that can be said of the plight of women and girls around the world, you share in awareness.
All that can be said of women suffering globally in our times, however, is mirrored in our own beloved Roman Catholic Church. Women who are equal in the eyes of God and empowered and gifted with the Holy Spirit are “locked out of the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 23: 13) and left voiceless in the body of Christ. Like the importunate widow, we cry out for justice that the other half of God’s voice be heard resounding around the world for the good of men and women everywhere.
Consider the universal symbolism of marriage. Our Church images herself as the bride of Christ, teaches marriage as sacrament, and mystical marriage as the goal of the Christian life. We see the fruits of good marriage reverberate into family, civic, religious, cultural, artistic, and public life, with profound implications for the interconnection and web of relationships woven into the tapestry of Christ’s incarnation. How is it half of the human soul is shut out and barred from exercising mutual giftedness in the Spirit for conversations, decisions, processes, deliberations intended for the good of the Church and the world? How is it half of the human soul – i.e. the anima of the human psyche – is suppressed, oppressed and shut out from shared life and the full exercise of human dignity in the body of Christ?
We find ourselves, men and women in the body of Christ, in the dark night of the soul, triggered by the sexual abuse crisis and years of cover up for these abuses. Is this crisis not a symptom of a deeper spiritual crisis that separates men from women in equal partnership in decision-making for the church and the world? Look at the history going back millennium with the symbol of this hierarchy of men above women in power and see the implications in every sphere of life. What might the world look like were the Church to restore its lost image in the likeness of God – male and female God made them?
On this International Day for Women, in a spirit of faith and good will, I request the Church begin conversations and dialogue with women of good faith and standing, toward the reform of Canon Law to include women at all levels of discernment and decision for the good of the church and the world.