Female-led communion services are becoming more public and widespread in the face of a hardening Vatican line against the possibility of women priests in the Catholic Church, reports the Washington Post (July 28).
The practice of holding women-based communions has usually taken place in small groups and private homes and it has been debated by participants whether such ceremonies are actual Christian eucharists. But the Vatican’s elevation of the prohibition on the ordination of women to near-infallible status (with a recent document amending church law to facilitate a “just penalty” on teachers and theologians supporting the practice) has drawn more women to such ad hoc gatherings.
Sheila Dierks, author of “WomenEucharist”, says that she “found 100 groups before. I can find a thousand groups now.” These women, mostly in their 40s and 50s, no longer accept the institutional position that only ordained men can ask Jesus to be present in the eucharist. Dierks found in a survey that 57 of 102 women participating in these services “indicated a positive belief that the bread and wine became the body of Christ.” Women church Convergence, a coalition of 35 liberal Catholic groups, has recently brought these groups out of the closet, holding services in such public places as Protestant churches and a women’s shelter.
“We’re taking this on the road” in order to protest “gender discrimination” in the Catholic church, says Sr. Donna Quinn, the spokeswomen for the group.