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Alicja Baranowska

Alicja Baranowska

My story is not long. I am a Polish-born Roman Catholic, raised in a rather traditional family in a small town somewhere in North-West Poland. In my community there was not even discussion on the subject of women ordinations. At that time we haven’t even had women at the altar services, not to mention any pastoral duties. Even now, it is not a common practice in the Polish Church.

I can’t exactly remember when it occurred to me for the first time that women could be ordained. I think it must have been around 2004, when I found in the Bible an information of Phoebe the deaconess. Afterwards I had a strange dream: a woman entered a quiet church, trying not to draw much attention of the faithful, but she was recognized as a Catholic pope (?) and being asked to preach. I have never understood this dream, but it seemed important to me.

Even when I belonged to a very open Catholic community at that time, I never dared to speak about it. I knew it was not acceptable by the Catholic teaching and didn’t want to make any troubles. Nevertheless, the idea of women ordination never left me.

Few years ago I’ve decided to leave Poland and move to England: finally I’ve settled down in London. It was the place where I found more progressive Catholics, thinking in a similar way like myself. Finally I felt to be in my proper place and I was not afraid to think more independently anymore. In the middle of 2008 I’ve moved to Belgium where I was given a better job, but I still felt related to the British Catholics.

Somehow in the middle of 2009 two important things occurred. Firstly, the Polish Catholic weekly “Tygodnik Powszechny” published an article of Fr. Alfons Skowronek, Polish Catholic ecumenist, who, considering mostly a role of a priest in the modern world, mentioned that “stopping women for sacramental priesthood is contrary to a woman’s dignity” and that “it is not possible to legitimize it by biblical sources”. The article provoked a series of polemic and supporting articles, published in the very same “Tygodnik Powszechny”. Very soon, one of the biggest Polish daily newspapers “Gazeta Wyborcza” followed-up the subject by publishing articles, interviews and opinions of the readers concerning the women’s position in the Catholic Church, including women’s ordination matter. It was there where I found out I was not the only one Polish Catholic thinking about the interdiction as unjustified.

I have started to look for more information. There were not many of them in my native Polish language, so I switched into English. In the beginning I have found a website of Catholic women who decided to be ordained without Vatican’s authorization. But it was too radical for me; and also in that way they have excluded themselves from the Church as the organization, having lost any influence. I could support the idea itself, but within the legal Church. I thought there was a need to change a way of thinking first and then, by a “small steps policy” to open a real discussion on women’s ordination within our Church, and, eventually, a way to such ordinations itself.

Then I have found the website of Womenpriests.org. I’ve started to read and decided it was what I was looking for. I contacted the team and offered I could translate some sections of the service into Polish, which I have started to do. I feel happy to be able to do it and I thank the Lord to show me the way to support the idea of women’s ordination.

Wijngaards Institute for Catholic ResearchThis website is maintained by the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research.

The Institute is known for issuing academic reports and statements on relevant issues in the Church. These have included scholars' declarations on the need of collegiality in the exercise of church authority, on the ethics of using contraceptives in marriage and the urgency of re-instating the sacramental diaconate of women.

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