(Bishop of Embu, Kenya)
The Situation of Women:
The responses to the Lineamenta highlight woman's essential role in the family and her increasing contribution in social and ecclesial life. However, it is also reported that the tendency persists to regard women as inferior to men, and that this can be found even in the Church. In Africa, as in the whole world, there is also a strong wind of revendication of the dignity of women and their rights. Consequently, the Church has to consider this situation in all honesty as a matter of justice intrinsically linked to the proclamation of the Good News even if an examination of conscience would show that the Church itself has been somehow involved in this situation. The Instrumentum Laboris attributes the inferior condition of women in society to the African tradition not yet fully transformed by the Gospel. While this may be partially true, it is not said that in the modern Africa, after a century of evangelisation, the situation of women has radically improved. Other forms of abuse and oppression that were not typical of the traditional societies, such as prostitution, concubinage, abandoned mothers, forced abortion, sexual abuse of girls in schools, etc. are taking place even among Christians in Africa today.
1. Women should always be fully consulted before decision are made in matters concerning them and their interests. This should be done not only at the level of Parish Pastoral Council but also at diocesan and Bishops' Conference level.
2. Appropriate lay ministries should be established in which women may participate and provisions should be made for their formation and preparation for these ministries. Women should be permitted to lead Sunday Services which take place where there is no priest.
3. The Synod should formulate a strong request to all African governments to draw up and pass legislation to foster and protect the rights of women, for example, marriage laws, laws of affiliation and inheritance, laws concerning the status of widows and second wives (in the case of polygamy), unmarried mothers, etc.
4. The Synod should encourage the involvement of competent and mature women in the formation of future priests in both minor and major seminaries as teachers, members of advisory committees, etc.
5. The education of priests to celibacy includes necessarily a balanced attitude towards women. Therefore, it is extremely important that seminarians should be educated in the respect of women and be formed in the way to approach them in maturity as is proper to future priests. A policy of pure isolation does not seem to be so appropriate and often leads to embarrassing and painful surprises after ordination.
6. Religious women should be given opportunities, according to their capacities, of human, scientific and professional formation especially in Catholic Universities and Institutions so that their service may be highly qualified.
7. It would be highly appreciated that the women who are attending this Synod in quality of observers (auditrices), let their voice be heard in the circuli minores so that their contributions may be taken into account in the final document of the Synod.
Original text: English