BY CHRISTINA WHITE
CARDINAL Cormac Murphy O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, has endorsed the role of women in the Church and called for "collaborative ministry to become a reality".
"The time has come, belatedly, for the role of women in the Church as coworkers and equal partners in collaborative ministry to become a reality," he said. "Not a subject of conjecture, anguished speculation, or wishful thinking — but a goal to be achieved."
The Cardinal was speaking at the annual prize-giving at the Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology in Cambridge last Saturday. He celebrated the traditional Leaver's Mass before presenting the five final year students with their degrees.
The institute prepares women for pastoral ministry in the Church and beyond. Previous alumnae have gone on to work in prison chaplaincy, teaching, as AIDS workers and parish assistants.
Presiding over the Leavers' Mass, the Cardinal spoke warmly of his admiration for two powerful women in the Chinch — St Teresa of Avila and St Catherine of Siena. Both had been loyal to the Church but had not been afraid to speak out in the cause of justice and truth he said.
He recalled how the indomitable Catherine had not hesitated to berate bishops, the Pope or even God when she found fault with their actions.
The Cardinal is one of a number of distinguished patrons of the institute, including Helena Kennedy, Patricia Scotland, Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP and Dr Rowan Williams, tipped as the next Archbishop of Canterbury.
The Cardinal was expected to attend a fund-raising Reception for the institute at the Lord Chancellor's lodgings in the House of Lords.