Extract from Kate McElwee, “The Taboo of Women’s Ordination” in Visions and Vocations:
The institutional Church still regards it as taboo that women and girls are called by God to be priests, that God is speaking to and through women’s bodies and women are listening. Vocal women with a vocation are dismissed as power-hungry, delusional, crazy. One of the early projects of members of the Women’s Ordination Conference was to publicize the results of psychological analysis of women who experienced a vocation to the priesthood. (They passed.)[i]
The inability to believe what women say is one of the trademarks of any unchecked patriarchy. We know this in cases of sexual assault, rape, and violence against women: the structures are in place to silence the voices of women. Social and cultural pressure, shame and fear work alongside a legal system that simply does not grant women equal rights. In our Church, silence is enforced on a papal level and upheld by bishops’ conferences and priests around the world, eliminating any opportunity for discussion or dialogue.
This is a painful story. The Church has lost generations of talent and passion by closing its doors to women’s priestly vocations.
[i] See Fran Ferder, Called to Break Bread? A Psychological Investigation of 100 Women Who Feel Called to Priesthood in the Catholic Church (Quixote Centre, University of Michigan, 1978).