An Open Letter to Pope Benedict from Catholic Organizations on the World Day of Prayer for Women's Ordination, March 14, 2007

MARCH 14, 2007

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
00120 Via del Pellegrino
Apostolic Palace

Your Holiness,

 Every year on 25 March, the feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Catholics around the world organize events to bring attention to the fact that Catholic women are excluded from ordination. This year will be the 14th annual World Day of Prayer for Women’s Ordination, and we expect that there will be over 25 events around the world.

 In honor of this day, we invite you to lead the way in presenting a fair and equitable model of how women should be treated in our world by taking the necessary steps to open all doors to women within the Roman Catholic Church, including admission to all ordained ministries.  We also ask that you work to renew church structures in order to involve all members in governance.  By acting justly within our own ranks, we, the body of Christ, can affect society.

 On the same day that we celebrate Mary saying ‘yes’ to God, we are saying ‘yes’ to women’s leadership in the Church.  Mary’s decision was conscious and deliberate, and it made her an active partner in bringing about the reign of God.  By praying for women to be priests on this day, we embrace Mary’s spiritual power and her prophetic role in God’s plan of justice for the world.

 Because Mary is a spiritual leader and some even call her a priest, on 25 March we will pray for women’s ordination to a renewed priestly ministry.  We will also pray for the difference that women in church governance would make by addressing the issues of social justice that disproportionately affect women, such as domestic violence, sexual assault, sex trafficking, HIV/AIDS, genocide and more.  

The exclusion of women and lay men from the full decision making and sacramental life of the Church is linked to these issues in that — while the impact has extremely different levels of intensity — the root cause is the same: male domination and sexism.

 As this day of prayer approaches, we urge you to open the discussion on women’s ordination and the need for change in Church structures.  To bring our beloved Church closer to the gospel values that Jesus modeled for us, we need all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, in women as well as in men, to be fully integrated into every aspect and ministry of the Church.

Thanking you for your time and consideration,

 Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Ireland

Call to Action, USA

Catholics for a Free Choice, USA

Catholics for a Free Choice, Canada

Catholic Network for Women’s Equality, Canada

Catholic Women’s Ordination, United Kingdom


Dignity, USA

Interreligious Conference of European Women Theologians, Germany

Femmes at Hommes en Eglise, France

Housetop, United Kingdom

National Coalition of American Nuns, USA

New Wine, Great Britain

New Ways Ministry, USA

Phoebe, Japan

Purple Stole Movement of We Are Church, Germany

Quixote Center, USA

Roman Catholic Womenpriests Europe-West, Germany, France, and Switzerland

Roman Catholic Womenpriests North America, USA and Canada

Save Our Sacraments, USA

Sisters Against Sexism, USA

Southeastern Pennsylvania Women's Ordination Conference, USA

Women’s Ordination Conference, USA

Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual, USA


Most Reverend Pietro Sambi, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States

Most Reverend William S. Skylstad, President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Most Reverend David J. Malloy, General Secretariat, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops