Cherie Blair is challenging traditional Catholic teachings, calling on the Church to understand family needs more and open a debate on birth control.
Blair is a barrister and women’s rights advocate.
She spoke by video at a parallel Synod event, Spirit Unbounded, an assembly organised by the international reform network
Blair began her speech praising Pope Francis’ Synod on Synodality as a step toward Church reform.
“It can only be a good thing that efforts are being made to hear and to listen to the voices of people in the Church, not least the voices of women,” said Cherie Blair, speaking of the Synod.
Discussing her personal faith journey, Blair credited her early experiences with the Church, particularly her grandmother Vera and the nuns at Seafield Convent School in Crosby, Liverpool as being “instrumental in her academic success and career in the law”.
Church does not do enough for women
However Blair criticised the Church’s track record on women’s issues as “at best mixed”.
She pointed out that while women increasingly have roles in theology, aid agencies and even in some Vatican positions, “there remains a strong sense that the Church does not do enough for women.”
She added that the Church’s teachings and priorities, particularly on birth control, “do not always serve women well.”
No need to fear change
Drawing on working documents from the 2022 synod, Blair said consultations revealed that many women feel their lives are “often not well understood, and their contributions and charisms not always valued.
“The Church needs to change and should not fear change,” said Blair.
She said the synod demonstrated what can be accomplished.
“Where there is a will…” she said.
Blair stressed the importance of “listening to women’s voices” and understanding the broader social and cultural context in which we all live.
“Women have continually proven that they can shatter glass ceilings and create opportunities where none existed before” and she is urging the Church to harness this energy to “reinvigorate” itself.
Reflecting on the success of the Cherie Blair Foundation, Blair was passionate about the rise of women in entrepreneurship.
The rise of women “is not just a story of empowerment. It is a story of innovation, resilience and the power of diversity. It’s a story that’s changing the world for the better” she said.
“We need to harness and replicate that story in our quest to reinvigorate the church.”
A moral issue
She argued the Church is well-positioned to join the cultural shift toward true equality of opportunity.
Blair labels the cultural shift towards true equality a deeply moral issue.
“If it makes it much more apparent that it is on the side of women and that the dignity of women is of vital importance as a deeply moral issue, then it will have profound consequences for all women, both within and without the Church,” she said.
Blair also urged the Church to be more supportive of parents, criticising its tendency to “idealise motherhood” while neglecting the role of fathers.
She said, “An involved fatherhood means men take their responsibility too for childcare and everything that involves bringing up the next generation.”
Blair concluded that a long-overdue debate on birth control and family needs should occur and be transformed into action.
“I hope and pray that together we can finally not only have that debate but also see it transformed into action,” she said.
News category: World.
https://cathnews.co.nz/2023/10/12/where-theres-a-will-cherie-blair-on-women-in-church/ “Where there’s a will …” – Cherie Blair