CHA President and Chief Executive Officer Sr. Carol Keehan, DC, speaks at the "Women in the Church: Prospects for Dialogue" conference on April 28 in Rome. Pictured with her, from left, are Sr. Kenyuyfoon Gloria Wirba, TSSF, an author and theologian who teaches at the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome; Flaminia Giovanelli, the undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, who moderated the panel; and Maria Giovanna Ruggieri, president general of the World Union of Catholic Women's Organisations.
Before CHA's top executive Sr. Carol Keehan, DC, spoke at a gathering called "Women in the Church: Prospects for Dialogue," on April 28 in Rome, she conversed with a number of Catholic women in the U.S., who told her they've been heartened by the messages of Pope Francis and his public recognition that the church needs to broaden opportunities to allow women a stronger presence.
Sr. Carol, CHA's president and chief executive officer, told the conference audience that all the women she spoke with expressed a desire for more meaningful roles for women in the church, and a concern that decisions about issues they have experience with, from marriage to family life to pastoral practices, are often made without input from them at every level of the church.
She said ordination is not essential to every church leadership role. Sr. Carol said having women in church leadership positions allows the church to draw from the talent and insight of women, but also has the potential for "the church to play a major role in raising up the dignity of women in cultures and countries where it is underappreciated, often to the point of oppression and abuse."
She said while there are significant cultural differences in women around the world, transcending these differences can lead to unity.
Her remarks were given at a conference sponsored by the Pontifical University Antonianum and four embassies to the Holy See about the roles of women in the church.
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