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Is Pope Encouraging Women Preachers, Leaders?

At his regular Feb. 14 audience Pope Benedict spoke at length about the role of biblical women leaders: “Jesus chose 12 men as fathers of the new Israel, ‘to be with Him and to be sent out to proclaim the message…but among the disciples many women were also chosen… They played an active role within the context of Jesus’ mission…the women, unlike the Twelve, did not abandon Jesus at the hour of His Passion.  Outstanding among them was Mary Magdalene ... who was the first witness of the Resurrection and announced it to the others.”

The Pope said that in the first Christian communities, “the female presence was anything but secondary.” St. Paul “starts from the fundamental principle according to which among the baptized ‘there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female’.” Furthermore, “the Apostle admits that in the Christian community it is quite normal that there should be women who prophesy, in other words who pronounce openly under the influence of Holy Spirit for the edification of the community.” Therefore, St Paul’s subsequent assertion that “women should be silent in the churches must be relativised…The history of Christianity would have developed quite differently without the generous contribution of many women…”

(From wire sources)

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Winter 2007

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