Friday, March 6, 2015

The Miracle Pope:Pope Francis and Women by John Allen, Response by Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP

"The first pope of the Catholic Church to have had a woman as a boss is steadfast in his defense of the status quo when it comes to women and Church leadership."

 Bridget Mary's Response: I appreciate the story of the wonderful relationship that Pope Francis had with a woman boss. But, I do not understand his defense of the status quo when it comes to women and Church leadership. May I suggest that when he comes to the U.S. that he schedules a lunch with a group of  women including women priests and our supporters. It could be an eye-opener and lots of fun too!
 One of the gifts that women priests bring to the table is that in a church where half of the members are women,  the church needs the Gospel preached from women's experiences and women's lives in order to grow in holiness and to minister to half of the world's population.

"The fundamental reason for the Church’s refusal to admit women to the priesthood is that it’s bound by the example of Christ. Jesus did not include women among his original 12 apostles, so the argument runs, and the Church is compelled to follow that example, restricting the priesthood today to men. "
Bridget Mary's Response: Jesus did not ordain anyone according to the Gospels.  Mary of Magdala was the first witness to encounter the Risen Christ, making her the apostle to the apostles.  In Roman 16:8  St. Paul commends Junia, a woman apostle as a mentor whom he praised for her witness to the Gospel! In Luke 8:3, we read that among Jesus' disciples were Mary of Magdala, Joanna, Susanna and many more who used their considerable means to bankroll the ministry
Since Jesus had women disciples, why can't the Catholic Church have women priests? 
Right now, it is flying on one wing and it is really damaged! 
"Although Francis presumably accepts that teaching, it’s not the basis of his own stance on the issue. For him, the push for women priests is where two forces repellent to him intersect: machismo, "
Bridget Mary's Response: Is Pope Francis refusal to accept women priests rooted in cultural bias? He seems so open in many  other areas. 
 which is an especially resonant concept for a Latin American, and clericalism, an exaggerated emphasis on the power and privilege of the clergy, which is virtually this pope’s personal bĂȘte noire.
... "applied to the priesthood, the conclusion is that it’s a fallacy to believe that women will never be equal to men in the Church until they wield the same ecclesiastical power. Instead, the argument runs, real feminism means embracing “complementarity”: the idea that men and women play different but complementary roles in the wider world and inside the Church."
Bridget Mary's Response: Women Priests offer a deep healing of centuries old  sexism in which only men could image Jesus fully at the altar as priests. We are visible reminders that women are spiritual equals. Women's rights are human rights is the basic tenet of feminism. Pope Francis must make the connection between discrimination against women in the church and the oppression , abuse and violence toward women  in the world.  
"Naturally, it’s an argument that’s met with an uneven reception, as many women have responded that it’s rather disingenuous to play down the importance of power when you’re the one wielding it. Moreover, many theologians in Catholicism, both men and women, point out that in all its official teaching on the subject, the Church describes the priesthood in terms of service rather than power. If that’s true, they ask, couldn’t the desire of women to become priests be understood in terms of a call to serve rather than a lust for power? In other words, they wonder, has official papal rhetoric set up a straw man?"
"If anything, Francis recoils from clericalism even more viscerally than machismo. As Francis has defined it, clericalism means two things: first, an over-emphasis on what he called “small-minded rules” at the expense of mercy and compassion; and second, an exalted notion of clerical power and privilege, as opposed to the spirit of service. Francis sees clericalism almost as the original sin of the Catholic priesthood. In informal remarks to leaders of religious orders in late 2013, he referred to the hypocrisy of clericalism as “one of the worst evils” in the Church and memorably said that unless future priests are inoculated against it when they’re young, they risk turning out to be “little monsters.”
 Bridget Mary's Response: I agree with Pope Francis that clericalism is "one of the worst evils." Certainly, the sex abuse cover-up attempted to protect the hierarchy's reputation and status in church and society. 
"Francis believes the demand for women’s admission to the clerical ranks betrays an unconscious clericalism. In a December 2013 interview with the Italian newspaper La Stampa, he was asked about the notion that he might name female cardinals. “I don’t know where this idea sprang from,” Francis replied. “Women in the Church must be valued, not ‘clericalized.’ Whoever thinks of women as cardinals suffers a bit from clericalism.”....
Bridget Mary's Response: The Association of Roman Catholic Priests is living Gospel equality now in the Catholic Church, All are welcome to receive sacraments in our  inclusive, welcoming communities and ministries. We are not clerical, but rather, function within a discipleship of equals.
I think Catholics should challenge Pope Francis on the issue of gender equality in the church. He said he was going to promote women in the Vatican. I really don't see a lot of progress. Where are the prominent feminist theologians in the Vatican? Women theologians need to be more than the "strawberries on the cake." Their research and scholarship should be valued for its own scholarship in our contemporary world. Where are the women in the top jobs in the Vatican Congregations? 
I applaud Pope Francis for all he has done to reform the church. He is moving in the right direction. He has taken on the Vatican Bank, and taken a strong stance for justice for the poor and oppressed as well as criticizing unjust, greedy policies and structures that keep millions in abject poverty. 
 We are beloved sisters and brothers in Christ, and it is my hope that he will  lift the excommunication against women priests and our supporters as well as all in the church who are following their consciences.   Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP,

Excerpted from THE FRANCIS MIRACLE: Inside the Transformation of the Pope and the Church by John L. Allen Jr., published by TIME Books, an imprint of Time Home Entertainment Inc.

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