NZ women support call for female Catholic bishop of Lyon

be the change

Several New Zealand women have signed a 17,000+ person petition joining Anne Soupa’s campaign to become the next Bishop of Lyon.

Calling themselves ‘Be the Change’, the group of men and women say their mission is to promote the inclusion of women in leadership of the Catholic Church.

“As a sign of our support for Soupa, we are delighted to put our names to a global petition supporting Soupa’s campaign,” Jo Ayers of Be the Change told CathNews.

As well as signing the petition, the group also wrote to Soupa.

“We are delighted to learn that you have applied for the position of Archbishop of Lyon. We think you would be an Archbishop with a fresh approach,” ‘Be the Change’ wrote.

“If Canon Law does not allow a woman Archbishop, we support changes to canon law.”

“We feel you have the knowledge and experience to become Archbishop of Lyon,” they wrote.

‘Be the Change’ was delighted to receive a prompt response from Soupa.

“I have not embarked on this enterprise in a spirit of provocation, but to offer my hand to a Church which is imprisoned in a false sense of loyalty to the past.

“I wish candidates would stand all over the place, to show that women are there, ready and able, with a faith in their hearts that would move mountains,” wrote Soupa.

“Would you have any candidates you could suggest?”

Saying they understand that Soupa’s bid stands little chance of success, ‘Be the Change’ say it, however, sheds light on the issue of gender equality in the Church.

“Having a qualified woman as an applicant for the See of Lyon helps us to imagine what gender equality in the Church will look like,” they say.

‘Be the Change’ points out that Soupa’s initiative raises the possibility of a separation of the roles of governance and priesthood, a question raised by Pope Francis some years ago; in other words, does the head of a Diocese have to be an ordained priest?

“Along with many other people worldwide, we saw this as a great opportunity to encourage the discussion about the ‘invisibility’ and lack of participation of women in leadership of the Catholic Church,” say ‘Be the Change’.

The New Zealand group say they feel close to Soupa because Bishop Pompallier was born in Lyon and was ordained the first bishop of West Oceania.

They say he was the genesis of the fledgling Catholic Church in New Zealand and like Soupa was a pioneer who shared his faith and skill.

“The founders of ‘Be the Change’ are a small group of men and women deeply committed to and immersed in the life of the Church, and are theologically informed and are dedicated to the work of justice for women in the liturgy and other Church structures,” one of the group’s founders, Louise Shanly told CathNews.

As a sign of international solidarity, ‘Be the Change’ has joined the ‘Australasian Coalition for Catholic Church Reform’ (ACCCR). 

ACCCR is a coalition of about 20 groups who are working for reform of the Church in Australia and now New Zealand.

The main focus as a group is the upcoming Plenary Council in Australia where they are lobbying hard for more just and inclusive membership of this Council and to also get items added to the agenda.

Be the Change invites new members. Those interested are invited to get in touch at:

Source: Supplied

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News category: New Zealand.

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