Tuesday, May 15, 2018

"A Church Without Priests : New Forms of Leadership Needed in Church Today" Werner G Jeanrond, Oxford, England, Thought-Provoking

My Response: This essay raises important questions of a different model of ministry in the church within the context of inclusive faith communities. Inclusive Catholic Communities served by women priests are providing a window into what could be future models of sacramental communities in the Catholic Church.  

In our celebrations at Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community, for example, the entire community prays the Eucharistic Prayer, not the priest alone.  In the celebration of the sacraments of baptism and the anointing of the sick, members of the faith community, not the ordained or not the ordained alone perform the ritual actions of pouring water and anointing with oil.  

I agree we need new forms of leadership in a new model of ministry. Medieval theology rooted in the philosophy of Plato or Aristotle does not prepare priests or anyone else for ministry today. In his scholarly book,  Deconstructing Sacramental Theology and Reconstructing Catholic Ritual, Dr. Joseph Martos challenges medieval theology as an adequate foundation for ministerial priestly preparation today. Professor Martos also points out that the current sacramental theologies from Schillebeeckx to Chauvet are inadequate in a diversified global church and a process of reconstructing Catholic ritual must occur in order to be relevant today. 

During the past ten years of ministry in an inclusive Catholic community of spiritual equals we discovered we were being challenged to think outside the box and create something new that would equip candidates and members of our communities called to new forms of ministry.  

Mary Theresa Streck and I co-co-founded People's Catholic Seminary to provide contemporary theologies and transformative spiritualities that nurture our inclusive, egalitarian communities on their journey to justice in a diverse, global 21st century world.  We custom-designed affordable programs and a degree program with Global Ministries University to put new wine into new wineskins!   Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP, https://pcseminary.org/https://www.arcwp.org

Excerpt from essay- A Church Without Priests: New Forms of Leadership Needed in Church Today" Werner G Jeanrond

"... For what good would it do to send a priest into our post-industrial, post-modern individualistic culture who was trained to minister in a Neo-Platonist model of church where ideas are considered more important than realities? However, that is exactly what is happening right now in many parts of our church. Merely adding women and married men to this kind of ministry, therefore, would not be helpful. Rather, what we need is a new approach to our shared responsibility for the church and its many and diverse ministerial needs today.

A culture of love inspires every person to contribute what they can for the wellbeing of the community. Some are more talented to serve as spiritual accompaniers, others as parish leaders, others as priests, others as youth workers, others as musicians, others as social workers and advocates, others as prayer leaders, others as carers for the old and disabled, others as Bible study leaders, others as communicators, others as evangelists, others as teachers, others as outreach specialists etc. A vibrant parish community needs us all.

Having outlined his model of ministry and leadership in 1 Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul concludes his reflection in Chapter 13 with praising the culture of love as the culmination of any such model;
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Cor 13: 1-3)

We have received Gods gifts of love, hope, courage and faith to empower us to build his reign in response to his invitation in Jesus Christ. Let us accept these gifts and get started. We do not need to wait for permission to love, hope and believe. If we start to build vibrant and inclusive communities right here where we are and to identify the different needs and talents in a critical and self-critical spirit of love, then God will grace us with His transforming presence. What more do we want?"

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