The Australian bishops’ Office for the Participation of Women has issued a parish resource kit to help the Church around Australia celebrate International Women’s Day.
The Office’s director Kimberly Davis says the kit is to provide ideas for liturgy, homilies and general intercessions, and help establish a focus on women in parish churches nationwide.
International Women’s Day is observed on Friday March 7.
The kit includes homily suggestions written by Bishop Michael Malone who is the chair of the bishops’ Commission for Church Ministry.
The kit says when properly understood, the rightful place of women in the Church can be seen as “a reproof to a male-only way of thinking.”
It says it would be a pity if the Church was blind to the role of women, or in some way threatened by a more active and responsible recognition of their “God-given baptismal commitment.”
The information kit points Catholics towards the report Woman and Man: One in Christ Jesus which was commissioned by the Australian bishops in the late 1990s.
The Woman and Man report said that women should be as involved as possible in the processes of decision-making at different levels of Church life, and suggests that the nature of ministry within the Church, and in particular the role of women in ecclesiastical ministries should be addressed.
Programs should be developed to promote the equality and dignity of women, enabling a better balance of women and men, clergy, religious and laity on Church bodies, the report found.
The new kit for parishes includes the statement that women have struggled for a place in the Church, but that there is an opportunity to acknowledge the right of women to participate fully in the life of the Church according to their competency.
The kit includes an invocation for the prayers of the faithful at Mass, asking God that “all of us will continue to promote the Gospel vision of the equal dignity of women and men in all we say and do.”