Woman’s bid to be Archbishop of Lyon gaining support

French theologian Anne Soupa’s bid to become Archbishop of Lyon is gaining support, with over 5,600 people signing a petition supporting her candidacy.

The signatories include many household names in France, mostly from the so-called left.

They include a mayor, a former member of the lower house of parliament, a social entrepreneur and a noted economist and member of the French National Assembly.

Others have expressed support of Soupa on social media, though they have not yet signed the petition. They include the Secretary of State for Equality between Men and Women and a well known entrepreneur.

A number of Catholics are also adding their names to the petition signatories.

One who is an En Marche! Party parliamentarian, says he’s “not a regularly practicing” Catholic, but strongly supports the ordination of women. He says he didn’t hesitate to sign the petition and does not see it as a secularist infringement.

“I joined this initiative because I believe the Church must re-examine the place it gives to women within the Church, as well as in society,” he says.

“I believe that the Church needs to be more in tune with the people again”. In his view, many other Catholics believe the same thing.

Others among Soupa’s supporters are Catholics involved in Church movements and advocacy groups.

First and foremost is the Conference of Baptized French-speaking Catholics (CCBF). Soupa co-founded this Conference, which is critical of the institutional Church.

One hundred and fifty CCBF members have sent the papal nuncio to France a letter supporting Soupa’s candidacy.

One member involved in the pastoral care of divorced and remarried Catholics, points to the “gap” between women’s place in society and in the Church – a situation she finds “increasingly unbearable”.

She is representative of Catholics who are trying to “move” the institution toward reform and is relentless in criticising clericalism and promoting the role of the laity.

Soupa’s initiative has struck a chord even with those who are not practicing Catholics.

It is also coming from practising Catholics like the editor-in-chief of Tere Sainte Magazine and La Croix columnist Marie-Armelle Beaulieu.

She was initially stood by the theologian after Soupa was viciously attacked.

Soupa has been “committed to the service of Christ for 40 years” and regrets that “Tradition” is being used wrongly and indiscriminately, Beaulieu says.

Although she does not support women’s ordination or define herself as a feminist, Beaulieu promotes ‘otherness’.

She’s also shaken by the scandals marring the Church and notes God created both man and woman.

“We can’t go on like this. I don’t want to revolutionize everything, but the Church must address the world in which it lives.”

Cécile Duflot, former government minister and leader of France’s Green Party also supports Soupa.

“She’s made people want to sign the petition, as baptized, when they never would have done so, and she’s found the words to touch people who thought their time with the Church was over,” Duflot says.



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