Writing in the Catholic Times a Jesuit professor, coordinator of the social pastoral work of Jesuits in Asia,discusses the role of women in the Church.He works with a five-member team he calls a dream team.
The team is
of three Jesuits and two laypeople, both women. Three are Asian and
two are white.
Two are from North East Asia and two from South Asia, and one from
Australia. Each of them has a unique experience, personality, and
style which they bring to the team. They reflect the different Jesuit
ways of pastoral social involvement and because of the differences,
there is, the professor says, a pooling of resources to better achieve
their stated goals.
An anecdote shows what he means. The lay woman from Australia is
responsible for a Jesuit social pastoral volunteer group made
up of many non-Catholics. She has no difficulty in keeping close to the
Jesuit values when working with such a group. She was asked by a Jesuit to
come to his country and explain to the Jesuits how to live according to their own values. The invitation was given at a large gathering
and received much applause. The writer feels that this would be of
greater value than having a Jesuit give the same kind of talk.
women of his team have taught him a lot, he says.
The Jesuits are
interested in structures and assignments, while the women are interested
in relationships and people. When the women speak, the professor says
there is more empathy, understanding and love in what they say than we
normally hear. This reminds
him of what the theologian Balthazar said about St. Peter's and the
Blessed Mother's approach. Peter was interested in organic
structures and pastoral efficiency, while Mary preferred consensus,
understanding and fellowship. Both approaches are used by the team,
which multiplies the results of the work.
The West has followed the
way of Peter to excess, and Mary's way was disregarded, according to Balthazar, a European theologian. The West wanted
efficiency and quickness; as a result widespread hostile feelings were
engendered. Love, prayer, and calm discernment were missing. Peter's way can be seen today
in our society. In the
last 50 years, the industrialization and democratization of society have
had terrific results but society has overlooked the needs of the
stragglers. There is a lack of concern for the least fortunate members
of society. Can we also say that this thinking has entered the Korean
Church? the professor asks.
We pray that we may begin to
understand women's rightful place and treatment in our society. As companions
and compatriots they need to be understood, respected and encouraged. Doing so will give more life to the Korean Church.