The problem is clericalism which links governance with Holy Orders. In this model women leaders- indeed- all laypeople- are excluded. While Pope Francis has appointed a few women to top jobs in the Vatican, he has not changed the hierarchical structure or medieval theology rooted in patriarchy, subordination and abuse of power. Until a new structure and contemporary theologies that dismantle sexism are adopted, clericalism will continue to destroy the soul of the Church. The egalitarian vision described by James Carroll is becoming a reality in inclusive Catholic communities founded by Roman Catholic Women Priests. Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP
|Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community Celebrates Eucharist each week.|
Each participant has bread and wine in front of them, prays the Eucharistic Prayer, shares insights during the homily. We function as a disciples of equals. https://marymotherofjesus.org
See a new vision by James Carroll
"One hundred years from now, there will be a Catholic Church. Count on it. If, down through the ages, it was appropriate for the Church to take on the political structures of the broader culture—imperial Rome, feudal Europe—then why shouldn’t Catholicism now absorb the ethos and form of liberal democracy? This may not be inevitable, but it is more than possible. The Church I foresee will be governed by laypeople, although the verb govern may apply less than serve. There will be leaders who gather communities in worship, and because the tradition is rich, striking chords deep in human history, such sacramental enablers may well be known as priests. They will include women and married people. They will be ontologically equal to everyone else. They will not owe fealty to a feudal superior. Catholic schools and universities will continue to submit faith to reason—and vice versa. Catholic hospitals will be a crucial part of the global health-care infrastructure. Catholic religious orders of men and women, some voluntarily celibate, will continue to protect and enshrine the varieties of contemplative practice and the social Gospel. Jesuits and Dominicans, Benedictines and Franciscans, the Catholic Worker Movement and other communities of liberation theology—all of these will survive in as yet unimagined forms. The Church will be fully alive at the local level, even if the faith is practiced more in living rooms than in basilicas. And the Church will still have a worldwide reach, with some kind of organizing center, perhaps even in Rome for old times’ sake. But that center will be protected from Catholic triumphalism by being openly engaged with other Christian denominations. This imagined Church of the future will have more in common with ancient tradition than the pope-idolizing Catholicism of modernity ever did. And as all of this implies, clericalism will be long dead. Instead of destroying a Catholic’s love of the Church, the vantage of internal exile can reinforce it—making the essence of the faith more apparent than ever.
I began this long reckoning with an unwished-for sense of relief that my mother did not live to see the Church’s grotesque unraveling, but I understand now that if she had lived to see it, she too would recognize in this heartbreak the potential for purification.
What remains of the connection to Jesus once the organizational apparatus disappears? That is what I asked myself in the summer before I resigned from the priesthood all those years ago—a summer spent at a Benedictine monastery on a hill between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. I came to realize that the question answers itself. The Church, whatever else it may be, is not the organizational apparatus. It is a community of memory, keeping alive the story of Jesus Christ. The Church is an in-the-flesh connection to him—or it is nothing. The Church is the fellowship of those who follow him, of those who seek to imitate him—a fellowship, to repeat the earliest words ever used about us, of “those that loved him at the first and did not let go of their affection for him.”
This article appears in the June 2019 print edition with the headline “To Save the Church, Dismantle the Priesthood.