Catholic women want more participation in a more inclusive church organization
Catholic women are positive about being a woman in the Netherlands, but less so about their position within the Catholic Church. These conclusions result from a digital survey, to which more than 2,000 women responded, organized by the Network of Catholic Women (KNV) at the beginning of this year. The results show also that the women think it is high time for them to participate in governing organizations within the Church. They also ask the church to open up to the female priesthood. Professor of religious education Monique van Dijk analyzed the results.
46 percent of women experience "joy" in the Catholic Church, a majority. Yet the vast majority (96 percent ) of respondents say they have ideas and wishes for the future of the Catholic Church in the Netherlands. Most important of these are: more equality and balance between men and women and a more visible role for women in the church by participating in administrative bodies, in the mission of the church and also at the altar. The women want to promote the connectedness of the church with society by expanding its diaconal task in the world.
The contributions of the Dutch Roman Catholic women are part of the synodal process and come after a call from the Pope for their voices to be heard.
Priesthood for women
Listening to each other is seen by the respondents as the basis for this much needed renewal. Two more advices were given: to encourage theological research and conversation in the Catholic Church about the admission of women to deacon training and the deacon ministry. And they recommended exploring the possibility of renewing the priesthood to serve the church of tomorrow, in which women might be interested.
The respondents speak of a church community that is not exclusionary; they hope for parish communities that are in many ways more open, diverse and inclusive than they are today. They also desire more personal and pastoral attention and empathy for parishioners.
Monique van Dijk: 'They are very church committed respondents whose potential is largely untapped. The report is a challenge and a call to really listen to each other and be church together.'
Note for the press
The digital report of the synod project "She Has a Story" can be requested from the Network Catholic Women: www.unkv.online . Professor Monique van Dijk-Groeneboer (Tilburg School of Catholic Theology) conducted the study with a team of ten women. She can be reached at: M.C.H.vanDijk@tilburguniversity.edu.