Archbishop envisages women’s inclusion in the College of Cardinals

A time when women’s inclusion in the College of Cardinals is acceptable is not hard to imagine, says Archbishop Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, president of the French Bishops’ Conference (CEF).

“Nothing prevents them from holding many more important functions in the workings of the institution, with everything being a matter of competence.”

Furthermore, Moulins-Beaufort is not opposed to the re-establishment of the women’s diaconate, so long as it leads to “more decentralized and more fraternal” organization of the Church.

Moulins-Beaufort made these comments in a recently-published interview in French magazine, Noosphère.

The Church “cannot act as if human beings were children who must be held by the hand,” he said.

Although this is the way the Church functioned in the past, that’s no longer possible “in a society where the majority of the people have received higher education, where religious faith has largely been chosen or freely embraced.

This is especially true since, according to the theology of the Church, all the baptized “find themselves on an equal footing before Revelation, since bishops and priests are in principle neither more learned nor closer to God than the laity.

“The voice of all the baptized laity, from the moment they try to embrace Christianity, should be able to count as much as that of the clergy.

“A challenge for Church reform is that we live synodality at all levels, and it must be rooted in fraternity.”

This fraternity should include men and women, priests and laity. Until this progresses, “the issue of ordained ministries will only make the structure more cumbersome and impede progress,” de Moulins-Beaufort said.

He can also envision “that the Holy See will one day be led by the pope surrounded by a college of cardinals where women’s inclusion was possible.”

Firstly, though, we must sort out a way for men and women to work together in Church structures constituted in fraternities, “or it will be useless,” he said.

“In a complete synodal form, the voice of women should especially be heard more, given that the apostolic succession is reserved to men.”

De Moulins-Beaufort admitted to finding it incomprehensible that women were invited to participate in recent synodal assemblies in Rome, but were not allowed to vote.

“To say that only bishops vote would seem logical. But … priests and non-ordained religious brothers are allowed to vote, I don’t understand why women religious are not allowed…” he said.

“It leaves me completely flabbergasted.”



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