As many people await the election of a new Pope from the ranks of 115 Cardinals meeting at the Vatican, women are protesting the exclusion of women from the priesthood.
Earlier in the week, a cloud of pink smoke rolled down the hill to St. Peter’s Square from flares that the women had lit to gain attention to the exclusion of women from the priesthood and ultimately the leadership of the Catholic Church.
More than 50% of the world’s one billion Catholics are women. The numbers of priests and nuns have been steadily declining around the world. It is estimated that the average age of nuns in the US is 65 years old. Nuns in their 80s are still serving because there are so many vacancies within their orders to carry on their work.
On June 3, 2008, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith declared that the crime of attempting sacred ordination for women would result in excommunication. There was a time when the threat of excommunication was the kiss of death to serious Catholics.
A declining power of the Catholic Church has made this threat less potent, but excommunications for the woman seeking ordination and the priest that would help her were reaffirmed by the Holy See in 2010.
The number of priests and nuns has been declining drastically in the Catholic Church, with this decline mirrored in other religions such as Buddhism. The common denominator in the decline of religious orders in all religions is the requirement for celibacy and denunciation of material goods. The restrictions on nuns are stricter than for priests in Catholicism and Buddhism.
Since the Pope comes from the ranks of Cardinals, and the hierarchy flows down to the parish priests, allowing women to become ordained priests ultimately leads to a decline in the power of the patriarchy that rules over all Catholics. While the role of the Mother Superior exists, there is no equivalent of a Bishop or Cardinal for women that become nuns.
Male domination exists for all major religions, including Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Muslim and Hinduism faiths. Of these religions, only Buddhism and Hinduism have female goddesses. Godhood is not an equal opportunity designation for women on earth or in heaven.
It is highly unlikely that the next Pope is going to change the role of women in the Catholic Church. It is only among the Spiritualist churches, Wicca and Pagans that women play a significant role in the leadership of their organizations.
The idea that there will be a woman Pope in the Catholic Church is inconceivable to the Cardinals voting today, and to the vast majority of practicing Catholics whether they are male or female.
The developed countries will have continued pressure by women for ordination as priests. Their efforts will be supported by the fact that there is a declining number of priests. Some churches in the US and other countries are now increasing the roles of women in the Catholic mass ceremony because there are no priests available.
The Vatican is sufficiently insulated at this point to ignore the decline in nuns and priests and continue the dogma that supports no women in the priesthood. The pink cloud will dissipate over the Vatican, but the struggle of Catholic women to become members of the ordained priesthood will continue.