As Pope Benedict XVI resigns on Thursday, Yahoo News asked American Catholics: What would they like to see in the next pope? What would they like him to focus on? Here's one perspective.
COMMENTARY | The one thing I would like to say to the new pope, whoever he may be, is what Abigail Adams said to her husband when the founding fathers were drafting the documents that shaped our nation: "Remember the ladies."
The cardinals who will select the next pope have, it is safe to say, very little working knowledge of women and what makes us tick. Women have been excluded from the power structure of the Roman church for thousands of years.
However, in recent years more parish duties have been taken over by women and girls. When I was a girl, there were no female altar servers. Both my brothers were altar boys, but girls were barred from that opportunity. Now in many parishes, girl altar servers equal or even outnumber boys. The same can be said of Eucharistic ministers.
Many women distribute communion at Mass, both bread and wine. Women serve as music ministers, give scripture readings at Mass, teach religious education classes, and serve on parish councils. But when it comes to higher level decision making, women are excluded. They are excluded from serving as deacons, priests, monsignors, bishops, archbishops, and cardinals, simply by virtue of being women.
The Catholic church is happy to let women serve in lower level capacities in the Church, and many parishes could probably not function without them. But when it comes to any real power, the doors of the Roman Catholic church are closed to women.
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