Pope says women must have voice
VATICAN CITY — The Catholic Church is not going to change its position on the inadmissibility of women priests, Pope Francis said, but it does have to stop linking all decision making to ordination and allow women to have a voice in deliberations.
In his apostolic exhortation, "Evangelii Gaudium" ("The Joy of the Gospel"), Pope Francis wrote that the involvement of all Catholics is needed — both as missionaries and in revising structures and pastoral programs to ensure they are focused on mission.
"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," the pope wrote.
At the same time, he said, "demands that the legitimate rights of women be respected, based on the firm conviction that men and women are equal in dignity, present the church with profound and challenging questions which cannot be lightly evaded."
"The reservation of the priesthood to males, as a sign of Christ the spouse who gives himself in the Eucharist, is not a question open to discussion," the pope said, "but it can prove especially divisive if sacramental power is too closely identified with power in general."
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