Saturday, July 3, 2004
Six Catholic women, including two Americans, were ordained as Catholic deacons on June 26 at a service on the Danube River in Passau, Germany. The service was a continuation of a series of ordinations that began in 2002 in the same location, at which point seven women were ordained into the priesthood.
For a religious community still in the shadows of the clergy sex abuse scandals, these ordinations are seen as a positive step toward the healing of the Catholic church, according to advocates of female priests.
"Women are taking steps to pro-actively create a renewed priestly ministry," said Joy Barnes, executive director of the Women's Ordination Conference, a U.S.-based organization that promotes a more equal gender balance in the church. The conference, she added, "affirms women who answer the call to ordination and are public in their witness to the Spirit's call to them."
The two Americans to enter the priesthood last week are Victoria Rue and Jillian Farley, and they were joined by four women from France, Canada, Latvia and Switzerland.
Ida Raming, a German theologian and one of the priests who performed the ordinations of women two years ago, argued that baptism, not gender, determines eligibility for the priesthood. At the 2002 service she said that the opinion of the current church leadership on women priests--as well as the Biblical canons that it is derived from--are "based on a grave lack of respect for the human dignity of women and their Christian existence."
Women's Ordination Conference:
Elections in Afghanistan:
In an alleged terrorist attack, a bus bomb killed two Afghan women and injured 13 others on June 26, sending a devastating message to those who support democracy and women's civil rights. The women were election workers on their way to Rodat, Afghanistan, where they planned to register local women to vote in the country's first post-Taliban election.
A spokesperson for the Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing, the most recent in a string of violent actions directed at election workers. The spokesperson, Abdul Hakim Latifi, also warned Afghans to stop working on the election process, according to media reports.
As a result of the attacks, the United Nations has suspended all female registration teams from the eastern, southeastern and southern regions of the country.
The violence has not kept 5.5 million of the estimated 9.5 million eligible Afghans from registering to vote, according to The Associated Press. Of those who registered, 2 million are women.
When the election will occur is another matter. On July 1, a senior Afghan government official told The Associated Press that the election would not take place in September, as originally planned, due to disputes among officials and political parties. The official said that a decision about the election date would not be made until early July, the deadline for scheduling a September election. Under Afghan law, the polling day must be set 90 days in advance.
President Hamid Karzai has pledged repeatedly to hold a September election, despite the increasing violence directed at both women and men working on behalf of democracy, and the growing fear that warlords would use intimidation tactics to cement their power.
Meanwhile, according to the Feminist Daily Newswire, Afghanistan's Independent Human Rights Commission issued a recent statement to NATO urging the increase of peacekeeping troops in the region because the "deteriorating situation and increasing insecurity around the country over the past six months have jeopardized the peace process and protection of human rights in Afghanistan."
-- Robin Hindery.
By Joan Oleck