by Mary Cullen ONE of Britain's leading Bible scholars has called for an end to male dominance in the Catholic church, and the opening up of discussion on the issue of women and ministry.
Fr John Fitzsimmons, a Scottish author and broadcaster, told a conference in Glasgow that patriarchal systems had never served the church and never would. They should be dismantled, he said.
He lamented what he said was a current right wing backlash within the church. It was, he said, seen by many as characteristic of the present papacy. Many of the bishops who had shown "a sense of adventure" in the 1970s on issues like the role of women had been replaced by conservatives whose concern was to stifle debate.
Fr Fitzsimmons, a former rector of the Scots College in Rome, currently chairs the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, which is sponsored by bishops throughout the English speaking world.
The conference at which he spoke, which was about the hidden tradition of women in the 'church, was held at Scotland's teacher training college, St Andrew's in Glasgow. Addressing a mainly female audience, Fr Fitzsimmons said: "I am heartsick at the growing polarisation and the breakdown of dialogue in the church. There is little honest discussion."