Living Gospel Equality Now: Loving in the Heart of God: Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests
Monday, September 29, 2014
"A Universal Human Right to Spiritual Connection" by Mary Sue Barnett, ARCWP
Theologians for CEDAW is a consciousness-raising process in the Women’s Center at Louisville Presbyterian Seminary this academic year. Seminary students here are doing Feminist Theology with the UN human rights treaty for girls and women in their hands and on their lips. In our opening gathering earlier this month, we listened to an excerpt from Joyce Rupp’s book, The Star In My Heart.
This book was born on a sunny day as I sat among the myriad colors and fragrances of my friends’ rose garden. I was watching over their two year-old, Elizabeth Ann, who was delightfully playing among the flowers, talking to them, laughing and splashing the roses with her little watering can. It was there that I became keenly aware of Sophia’s presence. I looked at the beautiful child at play, and I remembered how Sophia (Wisdom) speaks of herself in Proverbs: “I was at God’s side . . . delighting God day after day, ever at play in God’s presence, at play everywhere in God’s world.” Proverbs 8:30-31
Each woman present sat in silence holding the image of Elizabeth Ann and Joyce in the sanctum of her imagination. The silence was calm, gentle, reassuring and promising. After a few minutes of stillness, we acknowledged in group dialogue that this is an image of a girl child and a woman experiencing safety and well-being on this earth as the apple of Divine Wisdom’s Eye. One can easily imagine the opening words of CEDAW written as a backdrop to their contentment in the rose garden: “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights… [E]veryone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth therein, without distinction of any kind, including distinction based on sex.”
During the eight-month Theologians for CEDAW process, we will explore Feminist Theology through poetry, memoir and academic writings. We will highlight Sallie McFague’s metaphors of God as Mother, God as Lover and God as Friend in her book Models of God: Theology for an Ecological, Nuclear Age. We will give ourselves space together to speak our insights and to feel our own minds and hearts broadening. We will also come together once a month on the seminary campus at the Louisville CEDAW Coalition meetings where a group of local attorneys, politicians, religious leaders, scholars, students and non-profits gather toward making Louisville a CEDAW city.
Doing Feminist Theology is like approaching grand cathedral doors that unexpectedly fling open into an expanding universe of wholeness where Divine essence and female humanity are in a dynamic healing process of reintegration. Misogyny in patriarchal religions and in cultures all over the world does violence to the wholeness of females as both women of the earth and as women of the Holy. Doing Feminist Theology heals this division. Doers of this theology imagine and put into practice the marvelous reality of girls and women flourishing in the world as beings who flow from the Sacred. It is a wisdom movement of our day.
Those committed to the Theologians for CEDAW process will educate the seminary campus this academic year about the treaty and its implications for theology and ministry in the world today. We will hold formal and informal dialogue sessions with seminary students, faculty and staff. We will also plan an interfaith prayer service for February 28, 2015 in Caldwell Chapel on campus. Faith leaders from the wider Louisville community will be invited to attend and to make statements in support of girls’ and women’s human rights. The prayer service will be a celebration of the broad network of solidarity and justice created in Louisville by CEDAW and will include a send-off blessing to the United Nations 59th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) meetings.
The Theologians for CEDAW are eager to be in New York City during the CSW meetings. We want to feel the energy of being in the midst of women from around the world who know the treaty as a living document compelling them forward for ever-greater accomplishments in women’s rights. We are also eager to interact with our sisters from the U.S. who are making the Cities for CEDAW Movement come alive. This is precisely the arena of expanding consciousness and female flourishing that awaits us beyond the cathedral doors. To be involved is to be active participants in the Wisdom movement of our day.
Rev. Mary Sue Barnett is Director of the Women’s Center at Louisville Presbyterian Seminary and Chair of the Louisville CEDAW Coalition. She is an ordained Catholic Woman Priest and serves as Pastor of Christ Sophia Inclusive Catholic Community.