New Zealand

Be The Change Aotearoa





Be The Change Aotearoa




Pink Shoes into the Vatican protests role of women in Catholic Church


Dear Rene

Women’s role in the Catholic Church is the focus of a New Zealand group working for gender equality in Church leadership.

A media release from “Be the Change, Catholic Church, Aotearoa” notes New Zealand women’s suffrage was granted on 19 September 1893, and this month’s anniversary shows the Catholic Church is 129 years behind New Zealand in recognising the leadership skills of women.

To mark the event on 18 September, Catholic women in Wellington are mounting an installation of shoes between Parliament and Sacred Heart Cathedral.

The organisers are highlighting God’s call for the Church to allow women to exercise their gifts.

They say women are often the majority of any Catholic congregation and are usually the ones organising the various tasks that need to be done at every liturgical celebration.

Yet the Catholic Church continues the injustice of refusing to recognise women’s worth by denying them equality in leadership roles, their media release says.

The shoes signify the largely unpaid work women have done for the Church throughout the ages. These contributions have been recorded in short, printed vignettes accompanying the shoes.

There will be splashes of pink, including on some of the shoes, and music, singing and speeches.

The day starts at midday with shoes being placed in a walking pattern from the steps of Parliament onto Molesworth Street, around the corner into Hill Street and across the road to the cathedral.

The event is due to finish around 2pm when the shoes will be gathered up and donated to charity.

The idea for the project came to light two years ago, but the action was postponed several times because of Covid-19 lockdowns.

The women invited Cardinal John Dew to meet them again outside the Sacred Heart Cathedral on 18 September. They would like to give him a “suffrage charter” of requests about women’s role in participation in decision-making at all levels.

With Dew in Rome, Coadjutor Archbishop of Wellington Paul Martin has responded.

“I appreciate your recognition of the synodal process and what has emerged as part of that, some of which supports what your group wishes to promote regarding the role of women in the authorised leadership and decision-making bodies within the Church,” he said.

“My sense is that the gathering … on the 18th has more of a focus of making a statement and furthering a particular point of view, rather than for the building up of the Church community, especially at a time when we are fragile.

“There are many ways we can celebrate the role of women in the Catholic church, and also lay men over the years.

“This is something for us to do as a Church community in our own places rather than starting at Parliament and then moving to a church that is currently closed.

“I do struggle with the idea that the participation of women has been and is invisible,” Martin said.

“There are so many who do work, have worked and worshipped in our Church community, and who have made a significant contribution to the life of the Church and have served it in the way we are all called to do.

“There are many women who have leadership roles in the Wellington Archdiocese and in parishes also.

“I do not think that our church communities see them as invisible, and I know that I don’t.

“I think that is a different issue to being part of the authorised leadership and decision-making bodies within the Church,” he said.

New Zealand’s Catholic Bishops Conference (NZCBC) says six themes have emerged from the diocesan phase of the 2023 Synod on Synodality.

These are: inclusion, gathering, leadership, education and formation, mission, and synodality and change.

The leadership theme is particularly relevant to the women’s request, saying “Collaborative ministry should become the norm, with greater sacramental involvement for lay people.”
(CathNews NZ Pacific. 1 September 2022)


More information



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Forwarded on behalf of Be The Change Aotearoa by ACCCR (Australasian Catholic Coalition for Church Reform).

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Be The Change Catholic - Church Aotearoa




Submission - 2023 Synodal Process


Catholic Diocese Of Auckland Te Taumata o te Hahi Katorika


7 April 2022

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Submission Contents



  • Whakataki - Introduction
  • Ko tēnei kaupapa - This is what we believe
  • Ko te tikanga tēnei - This is what we do
  • Ko tēnei te kawa - This is how we work together
  • Tūtohutanga - Recommendations



  • Appendix 1 - Be The Change, Catholic Church, Aotearoa Our Purpose and Our Beliefs
  • Appendix 2 - Names of submitters


Whakataki Introduction

 We who are Be The Change, Catholic Church, Aotearoa appreciate this opportunity to speak to the Synod 2023.

 We are formed by the scriptures and teachings of the Catholic Church and today our vision comes from OUR CONTEXT, Aotearoa, and OUR TIME, 2022. We are using the synodal lens of PARTICIPATION.

 We recognise that this is a time of major transition for our planet, for humankind and for the Catholic Church. Together we must do the deep analysis and envisioning which will carry us into the future.

 We are guided by contemporary understanding that all things are subject to evolutionary movement: created reality is dynamic and developing. To have a future, the Church must change.

 We are working to re-express our Catholic faith and restructure our institution so that it be adequate for today’s work of transformation and healing in our communities.

 We envision the Church of Aotearoa as an inclusive Church which incorporates our Tiriti O Waitangi, prioritises care of our planetary home and raises our consciousness to a deeper form of loving.


Ko Tēnei Te Kaupapa This Is What We Believe



 Participation in today’s Church is discouraged by inflexible expression of theological doctrine and rigidly imposed liturgical practice which do not reflect contemporary scientific knowledge and our cultural context.

 Image Of God As Source And Creator

We seek to enliven and re-express our image of God, in dialogue with contemporary scientific and theological learning. It is time to emphasise a different narrative and interpretation of the Christian story.

 We understand God as a God intimately present through the power of love, as a life force in all created reality. This triune God of relationships is in the whole and all the parts, in us and outside us and is beyond being contained by space, time and gender.

Unravelling Traditional Fall/Redemption Theology

We tell a new story that makes more sense to people of our time, drawing on the voices of contemporary theologians.

We acknowledge human sin but reject the unbalanced emphasis on a mythical original sin and the image of an offended God which is still so evident in liturgy and prayer.

Incarnation As Part Of God’s Infinite Love Expressed In Creation

In the light of Laudato Si we venture new understanding of Incarnation and Salvation. Jesus shows us that God is merciful love, and teaches us that his way is the path to becoming a New Creation.

The extraordinarily wonderful implication of God-with-us as matter, must be told more clearly.

Theology Of The Human Person

Made in the image of God and found good.

Radical inclusivity regardless of sex or sexuality, nationality, economic status, education or disability. All voices have a right to be heard.

We prioritise the Catholic notions of sensus fidelium, subsidiarity and Inculturation to achieve change in our own communities.


Ko Te Tikanga Tēnei

This Is What We Do


Clericalism and rigid rubrics have precluded much creative participation in sacraments and liturgy and mission has become a secondary focus in many faith communities.

We understand our work as twofold:

  • Care and development of who we are (Liturgy & Pastoral Care)
  • Advocacy and action for justice in our world (Mission)

These aspects are equally important.

Care And Development Of Who We Are

  • We support and facilitate neighbourhood opportunities to gather to praise and thank God in relevant, participatory We call forth liturgical leadership from within our communities.
  • We work to develop our language and practice to reflect the essential bicultural foundation of Aotearoa and subsequent multicultural reality, to image God appropriately and to use accessible vernacular expression.
  • We recognise our responsibility to make available excellent adult faith formation and education opportunities to develop Church communities.
  • We nurture our whanau relationship by good pastoral

Advocacy And Action For Justice

  • We work to earn the moral authority to speak justly and truthfully into the public discourse in Aotearoa.
  • Major priorities for mission are planetary crisis and, in Aotearoa,
  • All social justice work must be supported and
  • We see the necessity to recognise, affirm and support all endeavours for good wherever they are occurring so we celebrate:
    • The Season of Creation
    • The internationally marked United Nations World Earth Day - 22 April
    • World Environment Day - 5 June
    • Human Rights Day - 10 December
  • We believe the joy and hopefulness of a renewed Church will communicate new hope into the contemporary conditions of depression and hopelessness in our society in Aotearoa.

Ko Tēnei Te Kawa

This Is How We Work Together

Today in the Institutional Church, the possibility of participating in genuine leadership is only open to those who are ordained.

We envisage, authority and leadership as it relates to organisational and liturgical decision- making, will always practise:


Flexibility in our approach to everything
we do so that everyone can be included

All of diverse humanity has the right to

participate as co-equal partners in the task of theological reflection, doctrinal development and Church leadership


We emphasise collective benefits not individual achievement as the focus of our work


All our proceedings are open to those who wish to participate and work together on matters of interest and concern to us.

Accountability through open communication and the use of appropriate language

Those affected by decisions need to feel encouraged to participate in decision- making processes and review what we have done against what we have said we will do.

 We, the people, share membership of this Body; consequently, we share responsibility for its wellness. We need a structure made up of small, local groups in which genuine relationships can flourish.



Ko Tēnei Kaupapa
This Is What We Believe

  • We recommend that significantly increased emphasis be placed upon accessible, high-quality education in faith, which draws on contemporary theology and scripture study, being made available to communities.
  • We recommend a new emphasis on the excitement of robust dialogue between religion and science. This necessitates a humble and communicative Church.


Ko Te Tikanga Tēnei This Is What We Do

  • We recommend that the Church in Aotearoa works hard to better inculturate our liturgies taking into account Te Tiriti, gender inclusivity, ethnic diversity, age
  • We recommend that in every parish community, Church life and community life are much better integrated.
  • We recommend close, egalitarian, ecumenical
  • We recommend that ecological and social justice awareness is a top priority in every parish. We exist to be transformative in our local place.
  • We recommend that the voice of the Church in Aotearoa is strongly heard in the discourse on Ecological Crisis and Decolonisation which are two major issues in today’s world.
  • We recommend that UN marking of World Earth Day, World Environment Day, and Human Rights Day, be woven into our Church calendars.


Ko Tēnei Te Kawa
This Is How We Work Together

  • We recommend welcoming a completely new Church structure in which human persons are genuinely treated as equals and included, have the right to communicate their views, discern leadership, and work to heal and care for the wider communities in which they live.
  • We recommend the dismantling of clericalism and the requirement to have effective councils at every level, who listen, are accountable and whose actions can be scrutinised.





Appendix 1


The following are Be The Change, Catholic Church, Aotearoa Our Purpose and Our Beliefs statements.



Our Purpose

We, as a group, see ourselves as people who in a safe, supportive, nourishing, hope-filled space are journeying towards a radical, new, inclusive model of Catholic Church that reflects our faithfulness to the Gospel message and God’s wondrous wholeness.


Our Beliefs

We carry hopes for a renewed inclusive Church and are willing to help build it.

We gain hope from being part of a group and will support and nourish each other.

We are Church who desire to ‘be the change’, creating a faith

community ourselves to help achieve this.

We are prepared to take responsibility to bring about changes that are just and inclusive.

We offer a space to explore rituals and prayer together.

We seek to network with other groups desiring change in our Church.

We will be part of exploring how women can be part of the governance role of the Church.

We will stand alongside women who feel called to leadership and/or ordained ministry.

We believe that all earth and everyone of us reflect the wonders and diversity of God.


Appendix 2


The following are names of individual people from Be The Change, Catholic Church, Aotearoa who are submitting this document.


Josephine Ayers



Christina Reymer



Louise Shanly



Mary Thorne










































A Response to Pope Francis’s Commission on Women Deacons

by Ann Gilroy RSJ

Women Religious welcome any development in Church that responds to women’s repeated call to have an equal share in the decision-making. Pope Francis’s proposal to set up a Commission to study the possibility of having women deacons, while not yet a decision to change a structure, is offering Catholic women a frisson of promise.

The composition of the members of the Commission will be crucial for credibility and for symbolic value. Will it have the usual token couple of women? Will at least half be women? Or even – will the majority be women? Certainly it will not be difficult to find qualified women to serve, as more than one Catholic theologian and scripture scholar has researched in this area in the last decades, including Phyllis Zagano, an internationally renowned academic in the United States, who has published extensively on women deacons. We remember the study of women deacons set up in the 1990s which fizzled out and we will be watching that this new initiative does not meet a similar fate.

Read the article