Breaking news: the Catholic Church is yet again a step behind the rest of society.
During his visit to the United States from Sept. 22 to 27, Pope Francis caught the attention of Catholics and non-Catholics alike. From immigration to the death penalty to a surprising stance on gay marriage, he seems to have covered it all, and with a refreshingly modern and progressive outlook. Although a good part of the rest of the Catholic Church must have been covering their ears and cringing throughout his non-traditional statements, the rest of us were were pleasantly surprised, to say the least.
That is until he made a statement regarding the possibility of female priesthood during an in-flight press conference.
“On women priests, that cannot be done.”
And just like that, we’re back to square one. Don’t get me wrong, Pope Francis is exactly what an establishment like the Catholic Church needs, but those seven words alone remind us of the fact that the Church lacks the ability to look past its outdated rules long enough to see the regressive effects it has on society. Women have been able to vote in the United States since 1920, hold some of the highest public offices worldwide and are rapidly proving that they are in no way inferior to men. So why is it that an institution as global as the Catholic Church is not only centuries behind the rest of the world, but is also publicly refusing to even consider taking such monumental steps toward progress?
I propose that it’s due to lack of rational thought. When we actually think about it, the immediate implications of women priests on the church itself would actually be very limited. The teachings of the church would stay exactly the same. Nobody is changing the Ten Commandments or revising the Bible; the fundamental doctrines will all remain as they have been for centuries. The structure of the hierarchy would also go unaltered, as women would have to fulfill the same requirements and undergo the same training as male priests do.
The only thing that would be drastically different would be perspective. For a long time now, the church has been focused on addressing issues like gay marriage and abortion. Yet they fail to realize the effect that having women in such esteemed positions within the church would have towards these, and other, controversial topics. There’s a reason why they’ve had an exponentially increasing amount of criticism lately. The church is incapable of coming up with reasons for their close minded doctrines (other than the ever so popular “the Bible said so”). The feminist perspective is just what the Church needs to gain support for their seemingly outdated and increasingly unpopular stances on such matters.
Basically, the church is too afraid of change to realize how beneficial incorporating women into priesthood would be, because there really is no other legitimate argument as to why women should be denied the privilege of serving the church in such a way. Yes, change is scary. But so is the fact that hundreds of extremely qualified and passionate women are being limited from furthering their faith and service only because of that fear of change. Whether you are Catholic or not is irrelevant. We are all supposed to be taking steps towards progress, not building walls against it.