This anthology will be launched on 28 November 2019 in Melbourne and marks twenty years since the publication of ‘Woman and Man: One in Christ Jesus’, research findings on the participation of women in the Catholic Church in Australia.  This research project was undertaken for the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference by the Bishops Committee for Justice, Development and Peace, the Australian Catholic University and the Australian Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes.

The findings delivered a strong message to the Church community.

The dominant issue arising from the research was gender equality, recognising the equal dignity of women and men created in the image and likeness of God. This understanding of equality did not imply the sameness of men and women, but rather their complementarity and mutuality. The Church was seen to be lagging behind the wider Australian society in recognising the changing role of women as one of the 'signs of the times' and affirming the equality of women. The very limited participation of women in decision­ making at present and the need to increase women’s involvement in decision-making at all levels were constant and major themes. (The Bishops Respond, p. vii)

The bishops responded to the research in the Social Justice Sunday Statement, Woman and Man: The Bishops Respond (2000). The Statement included eight decisions of national significance and 31 proposals for implementation at diocesan level. The decisions addressed greater leadership opportunities for women, more theological research, investigating liturgical matters, providing pastoral and spiritual support, promoting best practice in ministry, shared decision making with Aboriginal Women and establishing the Commission for Women.

This varied collection of essays provides a series of snapshots into the lives of Australian Catholic women in 2019. Some essays reference the research findings and/or the Social Justice Statement (2000). Others provide a theological reflection on contemporary dimensions of women’s lives or issues of significance. Several essays emerged from the Triannual Colloquium hosted by the Council for Australian Catholic Women in Adelaide February 2019.

Every essay contributes to ‘creating a range of opportunities in the Church for respectful listening and dialogue concerning the experiences, needs and aspirations of women.’

Every author has given freely of her/his time and expertise knowing that ultimately this book continues the quest of the original authors of Woman and Man: One in Christ Jesus, to recognise the equal dignity of women and men created in the image and likeness of God.

Prepublication orders for Still Listening to the Spirit can be made and orders received by 17 November should be shipped in the first week of December.

Archbishop Christopher Prowse and Bishop Vincent Long

Andrea Dean

Sandie Cornish

Part One: Celebrating 20 Years

  1. Woman and Man, One in Christ Jesus: An Aboriginal Woman’s Perspective
    Kelly Humphrey
  1. Looking Back, Looking Forward – Love or Fear?
    Geraldine Hawkes

Part Two: Women’s Leadership in the Church

  1. The Experience of Religious Women
    Clare Condon SGS
  1. A Question of Imagination
    Maeve Louise Heaney VDMF
  1. Mission, Mercy and Pope Francis
    Debra Zanella

Part Three: Women’s Ministry in the Church

  1. Canon Law: The Discipline with the Bad Reputation
    Elizabeth Delaney SGS
  1. Women’s Modes of Liturgical Participation
    Clare V. Johnson
  1. Women Deacons: Status and Function
    John N Collins
  1. Women in Pastoral Ministry
    Anne Dowling
  1. To Rise Above a Whisper: Women in Interfaith Networks
    Cheryl Camp RSM
  1. An Option for Poor Women
    Gemma Tulud Cruz
  1. Perceptions of Motherhood
    Pauline Marriott
  1. Motherhood, Unconditional Love, Disability, Uncertainty
    Moira Byrne Garton
  1. Domestic Violence: Moving from Silence to Inclusion and Dialogue
    Liz MacKinlay
  1. Women and the Institutional Sexual Abuse Crisis
    Maree Marsh

Part Four: 2020 Vision

  1. Letter to My Daughter
    Kym Keady
  1. Looking Forward: Women and the Plenary Council
    Patricia Madigan OP

Once again, the Social Justice Council believing that ‘the dignity of every person is independent of ethnicity, creed, ability, sexuality, age or gender’, has worked cooperatively and generously with the Council for Australian Catholic Women. Details about how to the purchase the book will be confirmed in the near future.

This article was written by Andrea Dean and is adapted from the preface of Still Listening to the Spirit (2019).