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Stray thoughts: On using our talents

  • 12 July 2022
Welcome to 'Stray Thoughts', where the Eureka Street editorial team muses on ethical and social challenges we've noted throughout the week.  The so-called ‘Mummy Wars’ – working v stay-at-home mothers – that periodically erupt in the media have always been a nonsense. For middle-class families at least, the decision about who works full-time, part-time or not at all is more likely to depend on earning power, mortgage repayments, access to, and expense of, childcare, than on any ideological beliefs of ‘children need their mothers at home’ or ‘it is my right to work whenever or however I want’.

Indeed the real battle for women remains in gaining equal pay and participation in the workplace, and the struggles many still face with issues such as domestic violence and abuse in the home. Good families, after mature discussion, will deploy their resources in ways that bring them the most benefit. In effect, they will use their talents instead of burying them. Sometimes this means thinking radically, other times it’s simply looking at a problem with a more open mind.

Last week at the Plenary Council Second Assembly, it seems many of Australia’s bishops, for whatever reason, wanted to bury the talents available to them. They voted down motions related to the equality of dignity between men and women. The reaction according to commentators was visceral with members, not just women, upset and angry. It is likely the anger was more potent for the fact that the motions had become so anodyne that many assembly members are probably regretting the parsing and pruning. As the saying goes, one might as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb.

In response to the anger, the bishops decided to revisit the motions. As I write this, I don’t know what the result of this ‘revisitation’ will be, but I do know that rejecting the talents of women is not good for the Australian Catholic family.

It’s the Church that needs women to have a seat at the table, not the other way around. Diversity of thinking is essential to good governance, whether politically, in business, or indeed in the Church. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse found the Australian Catholic diocese with one of the lowest child sexual abuse rates over six decades was Adelaide, which had pioneered the appointment of lay women and nuns as episcopal vicars with authority over priests.

Criticism that the issue of deacons and the place of