Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Women's Role in the Church

"We can count on many lay persons, although still not nearly enough, who have a deeply-rooted sense of community and great fidelity to the tasks of charity, catechesis and the celebration of the faith. At the same time, a clear awareness of this responsibility of the laity, grounded in their baptism and confirmation, does not appear in the same way in all places. In some cases, it is because lay persons have not been given the formation needed to take on important responsibilities. In others, it is because in their particular Churches room has not been made for them to speak and to act, due to an excessive clericalism which keeps them away from decision-making" (#102). And again,"I readily acknowledge that many women share pastoral responsibilities with priests, helping to guide people, families and groups and offering new contributions to theological reflection. But we need to create still broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church" (#103).  Words of Pope Francis in the Exhortation: Joy of the Gospel.

The issue of women in the Church is ongoing, and the Korean Church has been concerned with the lack of satisfaction on the  part of many women for a long time. Pope Francis has shown his interest in expanding the role of women within the Church and the Korean Church continues to work to implement what has been the direction, but there are  roadblocks along the way.

The Bishops' Subcommittee For Women was begun with a need to empower the women in the Church. The recent seminar of the Subcommittee discussed  women's work in the present and future. Both Catholic papers had articles on the seminar and mentioned a presenter who very clearly expressed the opinion that we have heard often that the clergy have to change their way of thinking and attitude towards women if we want to see change.

The first presenter at the seminar, a seminary professor, who expressed the above opinion also   expanded to say in the Korean Church women's role has been a supporting one, and discrimination is readily seen. In the questionnaires and surveys  taken among the women we continue to see a desire for a smoother way of communicating between priests and women, a desire to see a change in the patriarchal mind caste, and to be in the decision making in parishes. All realize without the participation of the women with their special gifts, sacrifices and capabilities we would not be able to maintain the parishes.

Two women who are now presidents of the parish council gave talks at the seminar. One stressed the need for educational programs for women. The first women to have the position as parish council president in her parish mentioned how difficult it was: physically, internally and externally. The atmosphere in the parish was cold but with her efforts in being the first to greet the parishioners, and going out of her way to be of service to the community the gaze of the parishioners soften, and she began to get people encouraging her. 

One of the men mentioned that a woman president gives the women confidence, and inspires them and we have a mellower way of being a leader but we are not able to sit down for drinks and relate easily with the women. In our traditional society to be in that position is cause for uneasiness for many. 

The time away from the family is a problem for a woman, and the misunderstanding that may arise in the family. One of the men mentioned the need for the woman, if she is a homemaker, to make good use of her time and not to hear from the family that she is spending too much time at the Church.  

The efforts of the Church to bring the women into the decision making of the parish life continues, since most of the workers in a parish are women, we will  see an improvement with the conscientization we have had over the years.     

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