Dear Pax Christi Community,
I am deeply disappointed by your cancellation of my invitation to preside at a liturgy at Dayspring Episcopal Retreat Center.
I understand the fear of punishment that Catholics face from the institutional church when they participate in Roman Catholic Women Priests' led liturgies. It takes great courage to stand on the margins with women who are leading our church into a more open, inclusive, egalitarian and just community.
Roman Catholic Women Priests are definitely on the margins of our church. We are raising important questions between the institutional church's discrimination against women in its own church and the violence women suffer in society when religion justifies the subjugation of women.
Pax Christi has a record of courageous actions for peace. It is precisely the courage that is needed to create peace within the church for there can be no peace when over half of its people are unfairly treated. I am both surprised and disappointed at the withdrawal of your invitation. However, I see this as a tremendous moment of grace for an examination of conscience for the members of Pax Christi and for your organization. The social justice tradition is a seamless garment rooted in the witness of Jesus who stood on the margins with the oppressed and treated women as disciples and equals. Therefore, justice for all, justice for the poor, justice for the marginalized, justice for women, and justice for women in the church including ordination is constitutive to the Gospel.
I raise the following questions for reflection:
What steps can you now take to foster gender justice in the church and world?
What will you do to stand in solidarity with women priests and our communities to support the full equality of women in our church ?
Do you agree with Martin Luther King that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere?
In a letter to Cardinal O'Malley, Augustinian Priest and theologian, John Shea pointed out that Ordinatio Sacerdotalis which states that “women are not fully in the likeness of Jesus" qualifying, as it does, as a theological explanation —is utterly and demonstrably heretical. This teaching says that women are not fully redeemed by Jesus. This teaching says that women are not made whole by the saving favor of our God. This teaching says that the “catholic”church is only truly “catholic” for males."
When you rescinded my invitation to preside at liturgy, you are supporting the centuries old sexism in which spiritual power was invested exclusively in men.
I pray that you will have a transformation of consciousness and stand in solidarity with Roman Catholic Women Priests and our inclusive communities who are faithful members of our church, working for renewal, justice and peace.
Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP
Bishop of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests