Issue Date: June 7, 1991
Womens pastoral called into question in Rome
Imesch: Women may ask, Whats the use?
By PAT WINDSOR
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The long-delayed U.S. bishops pastoral on women hit another snag as Vatican officials and bishops voiced major criticisms of it at a May 28-29 meeting with U.S. bishops in Rome.
Interviewed by telephone from Rome May 30, Joliet, Ill., Bishop Joseph Imesch, head of the drafting committee, said he was disappointed following the meeting.
I think we put in a significant amount of time; we had considerable consultation, he said. I think what we have expressed are the concerns of American women. I dont think we can alter . . . what their feelings are, what their impressions are, what their reality is. If that is not acceptable, then I dont know where we go from here.
Delegates expressed three major areas of concern, Imesch said.
The first centered on methodology. Some said the U.S. drafters did not speak sufficiently as bishops but simply repeated the concerns of women. They suggested that, instead of issuing a pastoral letter, the U.S. bishops opt for a lesser way of issuing a document which does not go into depth in treating these concerns, Imesch said.
Some delegates also criticized the drafting committee for consulting only radical feminists. We clarified that the women we consulted would hardly be called radical feminists, Imesch said.
Second, delegates said the pastoral should include a more in-depth treatment of biblical anthropology in light of the popes apostolic letter on women. The popes letter emphasized the complementarity of men and women while observers have said the U.S. bishops pastoral focuses more on their equality.
Finally, delegates said the pastoral should develop the Marian dimension of the church, Imesch said. That dimension, spelled out in the popes letter, includes the aspect of servanthood, lowliness, and humility which is emphasized in the life of Mary, he said.
Imesch said it was marvelous that the pope called an international consultation on the pastoral letter, because it signifies the importance of womens concerns to the universal church and the pastorals wider impact.
On the downside, however, Imesch said it was a daunting task for the U.S. delegates to sum up seven years of efforts in 14 hours, noting that it took him a long time to listen and hear what was being said by American women. The pastorals universal significance also places an unusual burden on a document originally intended to express American concerns.
Imesch, who joked that eight years working on the pastoral felt like 104, said the consultation could delay the pastorals final draft beyond the June 1992 target date.
He also indicated that the further delay may prove disheartening for the Catholic women. They are patient and long-suffering, Imesch said. Some will continue to be patient and long-suffering, and others will simply say, Whats the use.
National Catholic Reporter, June 7, 1991
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