An Anglican Woman Bishop Stated that the Pope Took a “Risk” by Inviting Her to Address Cardinal Advisers

Credits: The Filipino Times

Anglican Bishop Jo Bailey Wells, who recently addressed Pope Francis and his advisory Council of Cardinals, sees the pontiff’s invitation as a significant step and hopes it will lead to further exploration of women’s leadership in the Catholic Church.

Acknowledging the perceived rarity and historic nature of her opportunity, Wells expressed gratitude for the privilege while also recognizing the risk Pope Francis took in extending the invitation. She emphasized the value of ecumenical engagement in fostering collaboration and mutual learning between churches.

Wells’ invitation came unexpectedly late last autumn, following a request from Salesian Sr. Linda Pocher to speak on the ordination of women in the Church of England and the Anglican Communion.

Pope Francis (Credits: America Magazine)

During her meeting with the pope and his advisers, Wells shared the story of Li Tim Oi, the first woman ordained to the Anglican priesthood in 1944 under exceptional circumstances.

While Pope John Paul II’s 1994 apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis prohibits the ordination of women as priests in the Catholic Church, Francis has expanded dialogue with the Anglican Communion and on women’s ministries during his papacy.

Wells discussed the levels of decision-making regarding women in the three orders of deacon, priest, and bishop with the pope and cardinals, advocating for affirmation and empowerment of all members in ministry and discipleship.

Wells’ participation in the meeting reflects a growing openness within the Catholic Church to engage with diverse perspectives and voices, particularly regarding women’s roles and leadership. Her hope is that this dialogue will continue with courage and openness to God’s calling for all individuals in ministry.

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