by Murray White DESPITE its opposition to women priests, the Church needs to find other ways women can participate more fully in its life, Catholics working in the ecumenical field said this week.
Relations between the Catholic and Anglican Churches were on a knife edge as the Church of England made its crucial decision on whether to ordain women to the priesthood.
The ecumenical adviser to Cardinal Basil Hume, Fr Michael Seed, said there could be no compromise on whether a woman could be a sacramental priest in the Catholic sense but that consideration should be given to other leadership roles that women could assume.
Fr Seed said: "Several of the roles of authority within the Catholic Church can be done by women. There is no reason why we cannot consider the possibility of deaconesses." He warned that Anglican moves towards women priests could become a "very serious obstacle" to ecumenical dialogue.
One Catholic nun, Sr Lavinia Byrne, associate secretary for the Community of Women and Men in the Council of Churches for Britain and Ireland, warned that illthought-out reasoning was being used to demean the place of women in the Christian Churches. "Some of the arguments against women's ordination are just blatant sexism," she said.
Anglicans who felt unable to stay with their Church after all the controversy were unlikely to find a more comfortable home In the Catholic Church, warned Sr Lavinia.