Women's Commission (letter)

Women's Commission (letter)

Gillian Gonzalez

Mrs Geraldine Hawkes, Chairman of the Commission for Australian Catholic Women which sat recently in Perth, is quoted in an article in The Record, Perth's Catholic paper (30 May), as saying that "feedback from women in the Perth diocese as well as others around Australia was that they felt the institutional Church was not open to their frustrations and pains."

This view was certainly not reflected in the hearings held in Perth. The majority of women here expressed the view that the Church was actually very supportive and that they were quite happy to belong to it!

As pointed out in The Record's editorial, the concern of many women is whether the Commission will be advising the bishops of Australia "how to help women be Catholic in a secular society or advising them how to make the Church more secular so that it will be easier to be Catholic".

Mrs Hawkes also said that "there are often concerns about non-inclusive language used by the Church ...". These concerns would now be allayed since the Vatican's recent directive Liturgiam Authenticam is very clear on the issue.

Many languages have nouns and pronouns capable of referring to both the masculine and the feminine in a single term. The abandonment of these terms under pressure of criticism on ideological or other grounds is not always wise or necessary, nor is it an inevitable part of linguistic development.

Traditional collective terms should be retained in instances where their loss would compromise a clear notion of man as a unitary, inclusive and corporate yet truly personal figure, as expressed, for example, by the Hebrew term adam, the Greek anthropos or the Latin homo.

The traditional grammatical gender of the persons of the Trinity should be maintained. Expressions such as Filius hominis (Son of Man) and patres (fathers) should be translated with exactitude wherever found in biblical or liturgical texts. The feminine pronoun must be retained in referring to the Church.

Equally puzzling, given the Holy Father's clear and definitive teaching on women's ordination and the subsequent statement by the Vatican that this teaching is irrevocable, was the comment of Mrs Hawkes that "the issue of women's ordination was not on the Commission's current agenda."

Gillian Gonzalez
Willetton, WA

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