It was the unlikeliest of press conferences and a sign of times that are changing with unprecedented momentum even from within one of the world’s oldest religious institutions.
On Oct 20, in Arlington Heights, representatives from Catholic priest movements and lay reform organizations based across the world gathered to lay out a series of direct challenges to the Catholic Church on everything from women’s equality to LGBT rights.
The announcement, also carried via a live global webcast, came at the conclusion of the third international conference of its kind during which 40 priests and lay persons from 10 countries—Argentina, Australia, Austria, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Slovenia, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States—met for three days “to develop strategies for reform in the Catholic Church including the full participation of women in the Church, confronting clericalism and supporting LGBT Catholics.”
Sam Bowns, an activist working on the restoration of women priests; William McGinnity, from the National Council of Priests of Australia; Margaret Roylance, of the Voice of the Faithful; Kate McElwee, co-executive director of The Women’s Ordination Conference; and organizer Markus Heil served as the gathering’s representatives.
“In this space we wrestled with the damaging effects of oppressive structures knowing that patriarchy and hierarchy hurt us all,” McElwee said. “We discovered, time and again, that by sharing as equals and asking hard questions we can transform ourselves, our church and our world.”
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