Newswise – Will the next pope allow women to become priests? Probablynot, since conservative Cardinal Ratzinger has been voted inas Pope Benedict XVI. An Associated Press poll found that60% percent of U.S. Catholics think women should beordained, and U.S. religious studies professor A. Raab saysthere are signs that the Catholic Church may be headed thatway.

“It is my conviction that women priests will not beofficially permitted in the Catholic Church until there arewomen priests,” Raab states. “In other words, Catholic womenmust be seen in a priestly role, in particular celebratingthe Eucharist, in order to be approved and ordained as priests.”

She says, “?At this point, there are no Catholic womendeacons [so] a growing number of Catholics committed towomen’s equality have become impatient with formal channelsand are choosing to disobey church law. This activism islikely both to engender greater support for women priestsand to heighten tensions within the church.”

However, Raab believes that changes are on the way. Shepoints out three ways that women are gaining greatersymbolic power with the Catholic Church: As “pastors” ? somewomen are becoming more visible in priestly roles asadministrators of priestless parishes; Instances wherecourageous (male) priests have risked their own careers byputting women in positions of power in their communities;Some women have claimed symbolic power by celebrating theEucharist “unofficially,” i.e., without consecration by apriest. Due to the shortage of priests in the U.S., womenvolunteers often take consecrated hosts to patients inhospitals.

“These women, over time, will cause parishioners to viewthem symbolically as priests,” says Raab. “? Episcopal womenachieved ordination by taking advantage of thetransformative power of ritual. Through celebrating theEucharist, they convinced others that women’s ordination wasjust and also beneficial to the church. In time, Catholicwomen will do so as well.”

We keep hearing that the United States was founded byChristians, but William Henry points out that thisisn’ttrue! Be sure to tune in to Dreamland for William’s nextshow as guest host, on May 14!

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