By Philippa Hitchen
March 8, 2018 — Today marks International Women’s Day, an event marked in countries around the world to celebrate progress in moving toward equality for women in all areas of political, social, and economic life.
Father Luke Hansen, SJ, worked at a women’s federal prison in California as a deacon, a ministry which, he says, significantly affected the way he sees the role of women in the Church.
Fr. Hansen says his long Jesuit formation brought him into contact with women as spiritual directors and university professors. Women, he says, have already taken on leadership at the parish and diocesan level, but one place where they have a less prominent role is in the Vatican. It is an important issue, he adds, “for me to see a greater presence of women in Vatican.”
Commenting on the recent appointment of two new female undersecretaries at the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, Fr. Hansen says there has been incremental progress. He mentions also the director of the Vatican museums and the first female rector of a pontifical university, but adds these examples “should never be used as an excuse to think we’ve done enough or that the presence of women in strong enough in Curial leadership.”
We have to remain persistent, Fr. Hansen says, and ensure that qualified women are considered and hired when employment opportunities open up. It’s a process that we must keep moving forward, he says.
Fr. Hansen also speaks about his experience serving as a deacon in the federal women’s prison near Oakland, California, an all-female Catholic facility. That experience, he says, “gave me the opportunity to see women ministering to each other, consoling each other, supporting each other in really powerful ways, in ministerial ways.”
He also talks about the stories of sexual violence that he heard, bringing home the reality of how women are treated differently and “are oppressed in every country in the world.” Such inequality, he says, has terrible consequences in women’s lives, and has impacted his views about women in society and the Church. “We have to think about the messages we’re sending when women are systematically excluded from certain roles in the church,” he concludes. Listen to his full interview here. [Source: Vatican News]
To read Fr. Hansen’s reflections on sacred encounters on his Jesuit journey, click here.