French Catholic writer aims to be the first female archbishop

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Soupa, a French theologian, announced she is applying as Lyon's archbishop to bring "awareness" of the "invisibility" of women in the Catholic Church. Photo: TNS

A French Catholic writer and lay activist is putting herself forward to be the first female archbishop in the Catholic Church.

Anne Soupa, 73, has declared her candidacy for the archbishopric of Lyon – the most senior position in the French Catholic Church.

The position has been vacant since March, when Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, acquitted on appeal on charges of covering up sex abuse by a former priest.

“I don’t know if the church authorities will... react positively or at least constructively, but what I do know is that my candidacy is very serious,” Soupa told dpa.

Under the Catholic Church’s canon law, bishops must have served as priests for five years, and only men can be ordained priests.

Some Christian churches from Protestant denominations already have female bishops, but the Catholic and Orthodox churches remain strictly opposed to ordaining women.

But Soupa argues that the church should separate the administrative functions of bishops from the sacramental role of priests.

“I am a woman like anyone else... and I think that I can, that all women can bring fresh blood to the church,” she told dpa by phone.

Catholic bishops are appointed by the pope, after a secret consultation process managed by the papal nuncio, or diplomatic representative, in the relevant country. – Tribune News Service

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