Friday, December 3, 2010

The Place of Women in Church Life

Women far outnumber the men attending Mass here in Korea. For every two men at Mass, there are three women. And of those involved in parish work and other church activities, women are participating at an even greater statistical rate than men. In short, women are the ones that do most of the work and yet few are members of pastoral councils, except for one diocese, Kwang Ju, where they number more than the men. 

The editorial in the Peace Weekly brings these facts to our attention and laments that we do not have more dioceses like Kwang Ju. Women, following the traditional image of Korean women, whether appreciated or not, are represented more than men in all kinds of service work and in most of the unpleasant jobs in our society.

The recent meeting of the Women's Subcommittee on Women Affairs focused their discussion on "What can women give to  society and the Church?" They  considered their situation within the Church  and came to some understanding of their place in apostolic work and how to be a catalyst in the  work they do.

At present, there are, not surprisingly, many women with the same abilities as men, but they do not have the same opportunities that men have to use their abilities for the  Church; it was one of the main complaints of those attending the meeting. One participant complained that women are not in a position to express their opinions and get into the decision-making progress within the parish communities.

One priest suggested that the way to begin changing this policy was by getting women organizations to work for solidarity, to educate women for taking leadership roles, and to raise funds for this work.

One woman said that women are only involved in service work. Consequently, when an opportunity presents itself, which may benefit others with their special talents, they are reticent to speak out. The atmosphere has to be prepared for this to happen. This can be done by formation and leadership programs, among others: women as staff members on the payroll in parishes.  One difficulty in accomplishing the goal of getting women involved in Church affairs is that, not infrequently, the women want their husbands to be more involved and will step aside so that he will become the more active one in Church work. The women are often more concerned about their husband's spiritual state than what they  would be able to do for the community.

The bishop who is responsible for the Women's Subcommittee said that not all that should be done can be put into the hands of the bishops. Getting together to talk is an important first step and will stimulate the active presence of women in the decision-making process in parish life.

No comments:

Post a Comment