Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Feminist Theology and Church Renewal by Jim Lauder, ARCWP

Lately, I am excited to read about feminist theology because I believe this perspective holds one of the keys for church renewal.  Church renewal is a timely topic as we anticipate the election of a new pope who we pray will provide leadership, and inspiration for church renewal, and re-ignite many of the positive initiatives of Vatican II.  Sadly he will not be a she!  If he were a she, then I suspect the Church would be well on its way to renewal before she even opened her mouth and accepted the cardinals invitation to the office of Holy See.  For certain; we are left with a he, and hopefully he will brush up on his understanding of what a feminist theological perspective can bring to the church as a servant to the world. 
In a chapter entitled, Woman Doing Theology in Latin America, found in the book, With Passion and Compassion; Third World Women Doing Theology (1988), Roman Catholic sister, Ivone Gebara writes.  “When a women’s experience is expressed in a Church whose tradition is machistic, the other side of human experience returns to theological discourse: the side of the person who gives birth, nurses, nourishes, of the person who for centuries has remained silent with regard to anything having to do with theology.”  Gebara reminds us that theology is more than reason alone, “something that words cannot express.”  Feminist and indeed liberation theology, springs from life and a person’s lived experience in the world.  She adds, “many women are especially gifted with a deep intuition about human life and are able to counsel, to intuit problems, to express them, to give support, to propose solutions, and to confirm the faith of many people.”  Are not those the qualifications of a pope?  Feminist theology does not negate a masculine perspective, but instead, it embraces both the masculine and feminine, and offers hope for church renewal. 
Ideally, the next pope will share Gebara’s hope and vision that, “the day will come when all [emphasis mine] people, lifting their eyes, will see the earth shinning with brotherhood and sisterhood, mutual appreciation, [and] true complementarity.”  Let us pray for such an outcome.  Even if the next pope embraces a different perspective, remember you and I are the church, the people of God, as Vatican II reminds us.  In our daily lives let us honor and embrace each other’s full humanity, consistent with what Jesus did for us, and do what we are called to do by God, whether God is a she or a he!
Jim Lauder, April 11, 2005 (Reprinted with permission)
Jim Lauder is an ARCWP priest from Canada.

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