Woman theologian wants to be a Catholic archbishop

A woman theologian has written to Pope Francis nominating herself as a candidate to be Archbishop of Lyon.

Anne Soupa, who is A 73-year-old journalist and biblical scholar, is one of France’s best known activists for a greater role for women in the Catholic Church.

Her request to the pope included a detailed cover letter and her curriculum vitae.

Soupa’s letter is being described as “a communication coup.”

Her candidacy has already received support from France’s most prominent advocacy group for clergy sex abuse victims, la Parole Libérée.

Although Soupa admits she will never be ordained a bishop, she says she wants it to be possible for us to imagine “a woman becoming an archbishop without it being a joke.”

Soupa hopes her initiative will further help fight against “the way women are kept invisible within the Catholic Church.”

The Archdiocese of Lyon is one of the most important sees in France. It is usually headed by a cardinal, but has been without a spiritual leader since Cardinal Philippe Barbarin resigned in March.

He had lost the confidence of many in the archdiocese and Pope Francis allowed him to step down.

Soupa says the “Lyon context” was not what prompted her to launch her candidacy to be archbishop.

“I see that we are continuing as before for this next appointment, following the same models.”

Soupa says there is an “intellectual laziness” in the way bishops are chosen.

“As the pope invites us to do, it is appropriate to dissociate governance from ordained ministry,” she says.

“Above all, I want to raise awareness.”

Despite its “internal problems”, Soupa says she’s never been tempted to leave the Church. Her current goal is to address all Catholics.

She will meet the nuncio, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, “with pleasure” and explain her candidacy to him, if necessary.

“Some will tell me that I have a lot of nerve to do this,” the theologian admitted.

“All right, but I feel like asking them, after this first reaction, what do they really think about it? In the end, I hope they say to themselves: a lay person at the head of a diocese, why not?” she said.

Officials in the Archdiocese of Lyon pointed out that the appointment of the next archbishop depends solely on the pope.

The archdiocese does not want to dismiss the “symbolic” character of Soupa’s initiative, which is aimed at promoting the place of women in the Church, however.

Officials say the archdiocese is continuing to look for ways to do promote women’s roles. In this respect, they pointed out that a woman has been the archdiocese’s chief financial officer, its “number two” position, since November 2018.


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