UPDATE: Buddhist women ordained as monks. See below.
NPR reports on the growing numbers of women serving as priests in Roman Catholicism:
In 2002, seven women were secretly ordained as priests by two Roman Catholic bishops in Germany. After their ordination, a kind of domino effect ensued.
Those seven women went on to ordain other women, and a movement to ordain female priests all around the world was born. The movement, named Roman Catholic Womenpriests, says more than a hundred women have been ordained since 2002, and two-thirds of them are in the U.S.
On a recent June day in Maryland, four more women were ordained as priests. The gallery at St. John’s United Church of Christ was filled with Catholic priests and nuns, there to support the women and the ordination movement — though visitors were asked not to photograph them. Witnessing the ceremony was enough to risk excommunication.
The audience turned to watch as the women made their way down the aisle, beaming like brides. The two-and-a-half-hour ceremony ended with Holy Communion — the moment they’d been waiting for. Each woman performed the rites for the first time as a priest, breaking bread and serving wine as tears of joy flowed down their faces.
And in Buddhism – Steven Goodheart writes on his blog that Ajahn Brahmavamso broke with tradition and has ordained women as monks:
Today I want to call attention to the courage of Ajahn Brahmavamso, or Ajahn Brahm (as he is affectionately known) for taking the courageous step of ordinating women monks in his tradition.
Ajahn Brahm is the Spiritual Director of the Buddhist Society of Western Australia and was (until very recently) affiliated with the Theravadan forest monks of Wat Nong Pah Pong in Thailand.
My teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, always emphasizes that with understanding comes love, and that there is no love without some understanding of the other. (And again, understanding doesn’t mean agree with, condoning, or excusing wrong-doing.) It means, among other things, to stop objecting people as all “evil” or all “good” and to see with clear eyes the very human being that is there, warts and all, and to have compassion for how flawed and wounded we all are.
With these kind of understandings in mind, I offer my metta to all those “bitter,” angry monks. May they be happy and find the causes of happiness! (In their angry reactions and unthinking expression of cultural prejudices, they surely have lost sight of those causes.) May they look deeply into their anger and bitterness and honestly and courageously see what’s there to be seen.
May these men truly see women as they are, in the light of the Buddha’s wish that all beings find liberation, with no exceptions, no exclusions, and no bias for one group or individual over another. May we all remember the Buddha’s wisdom: “Hate never overcomes hate. Only love overcomes hate. Cultivate boundless love toward all beings.”