Mari Watanabe

Dear Pope Francis,
I was baptized Roman Catholic as an infant, but did not become confirmed until later in life because of my misgivings about the church. I met a nun who told me that it was easier to change an organization from within, rather than to criticize it from the outside. She persuaded me to become confirmed. Decades later, though, I feel I have accomplished nothing from the inside. When you became Pope, I was hopeful for change. When the Amazonian synod met and voted to recommend ordainment of married men, my hope increased. But then you decided not to follow the recommendation, and I have lost all hope. I was happy to give my son a Catholic education. But now I have a daughter. As I begin the process of choosing a school for her, I am debating whether to send her to a Catholic school or not. To deny women ordination is misogyny. To argue that women are equal but separate/different is hypocrisy. You may glean from theology all the justifications you want, but the bottom line message that girls receive is that the Roman Catholic church does not believe women are good enough to become priests. Sure you can say that only men are allowed to deliver the sacrament, but why aren’t there women in every structure with power of the church with the one exception of delivery of the sacrament? Why don’t they have voting rights on any matters of importance? If the Bible is the one truth, then why are there so many different Christian denominations? Why did the Eastern Orthodox split from the Western? Why did Luther break away? Everyone has his theology and it’s a matter of interpretation in the end. Each denomination believes it has the one true interpretation of the Bible. A Catholic woman friend of mine is now an ordained Episcopalian priest. If she had been allowed to become a Catholic priest, I’m sure she would have. In my mind, the most important thing for every Christian is to love and serve God, and to help others do the same. I do not see how a woman is less able to do that. I suppose the Roman Catholic church can continue to run its men’s club, the church is still large and strong. I suppose it can afford to lose people like me to another Christian denomination for now. I suppose it doesn’t care if I send my daughter to a non-Catholic school for now. But the times do change, and some day, it will matter how the church views and treats its women.

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