Thursday, June 8, 2017

Brief Report Concerning My Contribution to the Dialogue During the Seminar on "Women and the Diaconate," Madrid, June 3-4, 2017- by Christina Moreira ARCWP

Christina Moreira ARCWP (in white blouse) at Seminar on Women in the Diaconate in Madrid, Spain, June 3-4, 2017

Asociación de Teólogas Españolas

After several presentations that emphasized the biblical foundation, both in the New Testament and in the history of early Christianity and the early Church, I note that the general stance in the presentations and the dialogues shows:
- That the aspiration of women to accede to ordained ministries is not well founded either from the scriptural approach or from the history of our male and female founders. The central role of deaconesses was especially evident in the letters of Paul and of course in the announcement of the resurrection, on which kerygma is based.
- That, after 21 centuries of existence, women do not reach the full rank of apostle, or occupy places of responsibility, or in government or as mediators to the sacred to which their baptism should give access.

- A "wall" that is interposed between them and that legitimate aspiration is described, and we are encouraged to "look for the nooks and crannies" that will allow us to take small steps towards full equality.  
My observation:
Since the legitimacy of our demand is more than amply demonstrated, we should perhaps proceed to analyze the present: women continue to receive today Christ‘s assignment to announce the Good News and serve at the Table. Even if history did not give us arguments, even if they stole all traces of women, even if they erased entire paragraphs from Scripture, if God calls today, the call must be answered today and according to society, to the circumstances wherein people live and especially women in their respective contexts.

Christina Moreira ARCWP

On the other hand, to speak only of the diaconate is to follow the methodology of the cranny, the tiny step and the gradual progress, which many advocate and which one of the speakers recommends to us, to encourage us.

This led me to the following words that I shared in dialogue with the people present:
[They are not exact words because I do not transcribe from a recording, but I construct the text following notes that I used to support my observations and, in essence, this is what I said]

"On this evening gathering when we celebrate the gifts of the Blessed Ruah that dwells in us, I feel compelled to give testimony of what has been received and to share it. I hope no one is hurt because I have tried, as best as I can, to tell my truth.
I am Roman Catholic woman priest, ordained at the ARCWP, an association that at the same time is also my community of reference and my family.

I decided to join her forever the day I discovered, in a news report, the promulgation of Benedict XVI’s decree called "Delicta graviora" that equates the rape of minors with the imposition of the sacrament of ordination on a woman. The in-dignation[i] this provoked revealed to me my full unity with the lineage to which I belong, that of the disciples of the Master Jesus from Magdalith and many more until now, I came into contact with his suffering, mine merged into his, ours, and obeying the same Master who never tired of calling me for more than 30 years, I accepted my condition of being “in-digna” (unworthy), as a woman and disciple. I unfolded my two wings, becoming only ... human and flew. I decided not to wait for the laws to give us permission and for those who, far away from us and from reality, promulgate and apply them so lightly.

From here I can promise you that there are neither walls, nor doors, much less closed doors. There is the infinite promised to us and a flourishing communion visible in the manifold gifts that we already share with our communities.

Women priests and the free, radically inclusive and welcoming communities receiving them, teach that another Church is possible; that there is already in existence, a circular church of assembly, where dialogue, dissent and reconciliation are everyday realities. Where decisions are made with guarantees that everyone is heard ... we already know what the future looks like, because our church, the portion that we are building and that is part of the great Church, is already real and is already there to be seen.

We are making ecclesiology and theology new; we bring the spirituality of free women and men who dare to believe and to create peace. 

All this is based on Pope Francis, on his advice to "love a mess" and on his numerous messages that encourage us to stick to "the joy of the gospel" and to live it. From this we have received evidence and testimonies that encourage us to continue, to support his yearnings for change by making that change in the grassroots real already, with the people with whom he is concerned primarily.

We base it on the famine of bread and spirit that people and communities are going through, no longer receiving sacraments or advice or a minimal word from God from a consecrated person, some for many decades in parts of the world. This misery calls us powerfully to respond "we are present" and scares us rather more than excommunication.

We base it on the call that each of us has received from the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, the Son of God, whom we love. The time has come for us, each according to her modality, to say "here I am." I do not want to be an accomplice of disobedience to the Spirit, never again. That is why I do not hide anymore and I make my testimony be heard with peace and tenderness, but I am not silent."

As a postscript on returning from the seminar: I conceive that I might not have been understood, much less loved ... all of this seems to me to be of little value in order to be able to pray the Our Father in peace from its first phrases. I do not forget, that would be impossible, that I am a sinner, imperfect by nature, made up of human and feminine mass but even if I  stumble on every stone I will not cease walking, holding my head up high, remembering the Name of the one who calls me, and for the honor of my lineage, that of Magdalith, Mary of Nazareth, Thérèse de Lisieux and a long line of names until the present time, my sisters whose faces I have recorded in memory to report them if I arrive at the final day of accounting. I allow myself to name Mercedes; as Pilar said, she baptized us with her tears, with her regret that "if my time comes, I will not be able to close my eyes having seen the great day." Let all who judge us know, those who put up obstacles, build walls and close doors that I also carry their remembrance, awaiting the great day of reconciliation that we yearn for in order to build the great Church where sacraments are not scarce, where there is no division and subtraction, but where the Creator is obeyed and we "grow and multiply."  

On the subject chosen for the conferences I formulate a wish:
That, if the diaconate is offered to women, it should not be offered as an improved form of "higher sacristan" made for women and without access to the sacrament of ordination; that the diaconate in general should not be so lightened that even men see the scope of their mission undermined. Let it really be a gesture of goodwill leading to full equality.

And finally, I declare that this question of access by women to their full dignity as baptized persons, daughters of God, for me is a yardstick to measure the extent of fulfillment of the sacred commandment of love of neighbor, a love that does not separate and welcomes. With this I send you to my Master Jesus: "Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who has sent me" (Matthew 10:40). If they are not gentlemen and do not do because they are women, do it for him.

Do not forget it, there is no wall, there are no doors... Everything is Presence and nothing blocks it. See you!

My most sincere thanks to the ATE and to the women and men who gave of their wisdom and good work and made possible our open and free dialogue. It was an immense gift.

[i] The author plays on the meaning of the word “indigna” and indignación” in Spanish, particularly hyphenated.  Digno/a means worthy, but in-dignation also means, in addition to being outraged, the condition of being deemed “not worthy.”
***Special thanks to Silvia Brandon Perez for translating this presentation from Spanish to English. 
ARCWP, Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests,

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