On The Bridge, the blog of the National Centre for Evangelisation, one finds this post: The Women of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference. The unidentified author does indeed talk about the women of the Australian Catholic Bishop’s conference, but central is the boast below:
‘For many decades now, we have known that women make up the majority of those attending Mass and participating in parish ministries. Data from the 2016 National Church Life Survey shows that women hold 65 per cent of all leadership and ministry roles in parishes. These roles include lectors, special ministers of the Eucharist, leaders of prayer, youth or discussion groups, members of parish councils and so on. Overall, 42% of women who are part of parish life have a leadership role, compared with 38% of men. Recent data from Catholic dioceses reveal that significant percentages of women also have roles as chairs (56%) and members (45%) of pastoral councils and as members of safeguarding councils (49%).
‘The contribution of women is not only limited to voluntary roles in parishes. Within the Church, there are over 3000 organisations that employ more than 220,000 people, and 77 per cent of these roles are occupied by women. This is significant when compared with Australian society in general, where females make up only 46 per cent of the Australian workforce.
‘Across all the sectors, the presence of women is largely seen in education, health and aged care. But dioceses and parishes remain places where women contribute significantly. Around 78 per cent of all those employed in this part of the Church are women. Overall, within all Church organisations, women contribute not only through administrative roles but also as professionals, where 61 per cent of all professional roles are held by women… It may also surprise some to know that 47 per cent of the key advisors to the Bishops Conference are women.‘
Information about the National Centre for Evangelisation says the centre is ‘at the service of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ in Australia.’ Indeed, the key purpose of evangelisation. But I wonder.
The women must be congratulated for their success. Perhaps it’s not just a boast. Behind the statistics lurks an imbalance of power and position between male and (lower-ranked) female executives, suggesting a correction is required – on moral grounds. I leave aside here a question of logic. Philosopher David Hume famously (and debatably) said you don’t get an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’. However so, there is no necessary logical connection between the factual observation of an imbalance and an alleged requirement to correct it.
But let’s allow the moral prescription. What then? Well, if you rigorously work out the prescription, you arrive at female ordination and episcopal consecration. Is this in the mind of the author of this blog, and those cited as female leaders? On the evidence here, I don’t know. Female Catholic leaders elsewhere are more explicit.
How many men could or would want to be part of a feminist church? Or am I getting too far ahead of myself?