Press Release: Pope Benedict XVI Resignation


Media inquiries:
Atlantic Canada: Cathy Holtmann, (506) 476-1080,
Central Canada: Mary Ellen Chown, (905) 339-0378,
Western Canada: Therese Koturbash, (204) 622-7000,

The decision of Pope Benedict XVI to resign as leader of the Roman Catholic Church comes as a surprise, given the long tradition that a Pope is elected to serve until death. The decision at a practical level is a sensible one in that leading a church of 1 billion members, when one’s physical and mental health is in decline, is neither good for the Pope as a person or for a worldwide organization. CNWE supports Pope Benedict’s decision in this regard.

CNWE believes that Pope Benedict’s resignation offers the Catholic Church leadership an opportunity to reflect on its mission and to choose a successor who will more fully engage the urgent needs of the Church and its members throughout the world. We call on Church leaders to ‘live into’ the vision of the Gospel, reflected at the Second Vatican Council and to make the work of justice, peace, equality, and care for all of God’s creation its highest priority. We call on the clergy to make accountability and compassion its hallmarks of servant leadership.

We call on Catholic Church leaders to ‘walk the talk’ of recognizing women’s equal dignity as baptized persons. Under Pope Benedict’s leadership we have witnessed the criminalization of those who support women’s ordination, an about-face on the use of inclusive language in the English mass, the bullying of nuns in the United States and the arbitrary removal of the woman who directed the largest Catholic aid organization in the world. Structural changes are necessary in order to ensure that the gifts of women are brought to all levels of church ministry and leadership. Pope Benedict’s resignation is an opportunity to renew the Catholic church in order to address the complex questions of a new millennium. We are hopeful that the deliberations of Catholic leaders in the coming month will respond to the growing calls for a church that is inclusive, accountable and focused on the work of justice for the flourishing of the world.

For over thirty years members of the Catholic Network for Women’s Equality have shared a faithful commitment to social justice for all women. We celebrate the fact that we are part of a long history of women’s contributions to the Christian faith. Our movement embraces a broad range of Catholic women and men across Canada for whom an inclusive church that is accountable to all of its members is important. Our work for women’s equality in church and world is internationally respected and part of a network of pro-change Catholic movements around the globe. For further information, see or visit us on Facebook at “Catholic Network for Women’s Equality – Canada”.

February 12, 2013