In commemoration of the 2023 International Women’s Day, Sr. Rose Uchem, a Missionary Sister of the Holy Rosary (MSHR) says the ordination of women as priests in the Catholic Church is a possibility.
Speaking during a recent interview with Ugochukwu Anadi, a literature enthusiast, which was exclusively shared with The West African Pilot News, Uchem stressed the need for women’s inclusiveness in church affairs.
She said that the Bible, though used to support the marginalisation of women in society, champions women’s liberation.
“There is a proverb that says, ‘you use a thorn to remove a thorn,'” the Reverend Sister said. “I have noticed that apart from all those bible passages that are quoted as proof-texts to maintain the subordination of women, the Judeo-Christian scriptures are a great resource for liberating women. These resources are not just in the New Testament but also in the Old Testament.”
Uchem noted that though there are sociocultural barriers militating against the ordination of women as priests, the inclusion of women in the priesthood, just like the abolition of slavery, would see the light of day.
“Looking at the present sociocultural landscape, the ordination of women might appear as a distant goal. Nevertheless, I firmly believe that if our knowledge continues to grow and we all maintain open-mindedness, the day will surely come when we would have forgotten that there was such a time when people vehemently opposed the ordination of women.
“If we think of something like slavery, there was a time in the past when some people did not see anything wrong with it. Now, it is quite unbelievable that once upon a time, presumably decent people defended the practice of slavery and opposed its abolition.”
She continued, “I welcome the ordination of women wholeheartedly for it is right and just. All the same, I am also aware of the many obstacles along the way. It is sadly true that if you jump some intermediary steps and go into the ordination of women, those ordained will be discriminated against.
“Furthermore, I am confident that without our knowing or controlling it, women’s ordination will surely come to pass one day. I have witnessed occasions in a Catholic church context where many people, including men, who have experienced women’s ministration, are already questioning why women are not yet being ordained.
“I have, myself, along with a few other Sisters, had several opportunities to deliver homilies, even though we are asked to tag them reflections instead of homilies. Human elements get into these things, you know, and then we put them into God’s mouth. Afterwards, people came to us saying they were edified, and wished we were got more opportunities to preach.”
Sister (Dr) Rose Uchem is a theology and gender consultant, a former senior lecturer at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and the executive director of Ifendu for women’s development.