Saturday, January 14, 2012

"No Longer, I will no longer debate the issue of Women's Ordination..." by John Chuchman

I will no longer debate the issue of women’s ordination in the church with anyone. I will no longer engage the biblical ignorance
that emanates from so many right-wing Christians
about how all of Jesus’ Apostles were male,
as if that point of view still has any credibility.
I will no longer discuss with them or listen to them tell me
how “only males can be representations of Christ,"
about how women have a “different role” in the Church,
or about how male-only ordination is “the Church’s Tradition.”
Those arguments are no longer worthy of my time or energy.
I will no longer dignify by listening to the thoughts of those
who advocate that women be happy being nuns and priests’ helpers.
I will no longer talk to those who believe
that the unity of the church can or should be achieved
at the expense of the dignity of women.
I will no longer take the time to refute
the unlearned and undocumented claims
of certain gynophobic religious leaders
who advocate for Male Superiority.
I will no longer listen to that pious sentimentality
that certain Christian leaders continue to employ,
which suggests some version of that strange and overtly dishonest phrase that
"Male-Only Ordination is the Church’s Tradition."
That statement is nothing more than a self-serving lie
designed to cover the fact that these people fear women,
yet somehow know that this fear is incompatible
with the Christ they claim to profess,
so they adopt this face-saving and absolutely false statement.
I will no longer temper my understanding of truth
in order to pretend that I have even a tiny smidgen of respect
for the appalling negativity that continues to emanate from religious circles
where the church has for centuries conveniently perfumed
its ongoing prejudices against blacks, Jews, women and homosexual persons
with what it assumes is "high-sounding, pious rhetoric."
The day for that mentality has quite simply come to an end for me.
I will personally neither tolerate it nor listen to it any longer.
The world has moved on,
leaving these elements of the Christian Church that cannot adjust
to new knowledge or a new consciousness
lost in a sea of their own irrelevance.
They no longer talk to anyone but themselves.
I will no longer seek to slow down the witness to inclusiveness
by pretending that there is some middle ground
between prejudice and oppression.
There isn't.
Justice postponed is justice denied.
That can be a resting place no longer for anyone.
An old civil rights song proclaimed that
the only choice awaiting those who cannot adjust to a new understanding
was to "Roll on over or we'll roll on over you!"
Time waits for no one.
It is time for the Church to announce that there are no longer two sides
to the issue of full Equality for Women.
There is no way that justice for Women
can be compromised any longer.
I will no longer act as if the Papal office is to be respected
if the present occupant of that office is either not willing or not able
to inform and educate himself on public issues on which he dares to speak
with embarrassing ineptitude.
I see no way that ignorance and truth can be placed side by side,
nor do I believe that evil is somehow less evil if the Bible is quoted to justify it.
It is time to move on.
The battle is over.
The victory has been won.
There is no reasonable doubt
as to what the final outcome of this struggle will be.
Women have a legitimate claim on every right
that both church and society have to offer any of us.
The ordination of Women
is recognized by the state
and must be pronounced holy by the church.
Can any of us imagine

having a public referendum on whether slavery should continue,
whether segregation should be dismantled,
whether voting privileges should be offered to women?
I will also no longer act as if I need a majority vote of some ecclesiastical body
in order to bless, ordain, recognize and celebrate the lives and gifts
of Women in the life of the church.
No one should ever again be forced
to submit the privilege of citizenship in this nation
or membership in the Christian Church to the will of a majority vote.
The battle in both our culture and our church
to rid our souls of this dying prejudice is finished.
A new consciousness has arisen.
A decision has quite clearly been made.
Inequality for Women is no longer a debatable issue
in either church or state.
Therefore, I will from this moment on
refuse to dignify the continued public expression of ignorant prejudice
by engaging it.
I do not tolerate racism or sexism any longer.
From this moment on,
I will no longer tolerate our culture's various forms of homophobia.
I do not care who it is who articulates these attitudes
or who tries to make them sound holy with religious jargon.
Things do get settled and this issue is now settled for me.
I do not debate any longer with members of the "Flat Earth Society" either.
I do not debate with people who think we should treat epilepsy
by casting demons out of the epileptic person;
I do not waste time engaging those medical opinions
that suggest that bleeding the patient might release the infection.
I am tired of being embarrassed by so much of my church's participation
in causes that are quite unworthy of the Christ I serve
or the God whose mystery and wonder I appreciate more each day.
Indeed I feel the Christian Church should not only apologize,
but do public penance
for the way we have treated people of color, women, adherents of other religions
and those we designated heretics, as well as gay and lesbian people.
Life moves on.
As the poet James Russell Lowell once put it more than a century ago:
"New occasions teach new duties, Time makes ancient good uncouth."
I am ready now to claim the victory.
I will from now on assume it and live into it.
I am unwilling to argue about it
or to discuss it as if there are two equally valid, competing positions any longer.
The day for that mentality has simply gone forever.
No longer . . .
For more books and poems by John Chuchman, visit:



Friday, January 13, 2012

"The Ordination of Women: Infallibly Taught?" by Peter Burns, S. J.

..."Ordinatio sacerdotalis was declared by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to be a teaching act that was, and I quote, "not itself infallible." It was made explicit by the Congregation at the press conference held to publicize its Responsio ad dubium (relating to the Apostolic Letter) that ordinatio sacerdotalis was NOT an exercise of the pope's extraordinary infallible magisterium. ..

Although it conceded that the teaching contained in OS was not infallibly taught in virtue of the extraordinary papal magisterium, the CDF nonetheless gave its opinion that the teaching contained in OS was an infallibly taught doctrine in virtue of the ordinary magisterium of the Church as explicated in section 25 of Lumen gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church issued by Vatican II. That is, it was the opinion of the CDF that the doctrine had already, prior to and independently of OS, been taught infallibly by the College of Bishops in union with the pope as a teaching that must be definitively held (tenenda definitive) to belong to the deposit of faith. This mode of infallible teaching requires a clear, constant teaching on the part of the bishops as a moral whole that some point of doctrine has been divinely revealed (cf. Lumen gentium, 25)

There are 3 modes of infallible teaching:
an infallible ex cathedra definition by the pope (this need not follow a consultation with the College of Bishops, though this was the practice in the two clear cases of such a definition, the Immaculate Conception (Pius IX, 1854) and the Assumption of the BVM (Pius XII, 1950);

a solemn definition by a valid ecumenical council of the Church (e.g. the dogmatic decrees on the divinity and humanity of Christ etc, at Nicaea and Chalcedon and many other dogmas); and

a constant teaching, not with any specific definition or formula, by the College of Bishops while dispersed around the world, but maintaining communion with the pope, that a doctrine belongs to the deposit of faith and must be held definitively as such by all the faithful (an example would be the Resurrection of Christ). What the CDF said clearly enough was that OS contains a teaching which has been infallibly taught in the third of these modes. It also EXPLICITLY said that OS was NOT an instance of the first of these modes. And obviously the matter has not been solemnly defined in the second (conciliar) mode.That is the official Catholic position. I won't enter any dispute about this, because it's silly to argue about facts. And these are the facts about the official position of the Church. They can readily be verified by reading the documents issued by the CDF and the relevant issues of L'Osservatore Romano..."

"Now, the next question we must ask: is the CDF's opinion about the infallible status of the doctrine itself infallible? The answer is definitely NO. Why? Because NOTHING the CDF says is EVER infallibly said. The CDF is not the pope speaking ex cathedra, nor is it a valid ecumenical council, nor is it the College of Bishops in union with the pope. The only way a doctrine can be infallibly taught is by one of the 3 modes of infallible teaching I described above. The CDF can give an opinion about if or when a teaching has been infallibly taught, but ITS OPINION IS ITSELF ALWAYS FALLIBLE. THE CDF IS NOT ENDOWED WITH INFALLIBILITY. Of course, the CDF can state a doctrine which has been infallibly taught. But so can anyone. If I simply repeated an infallibly defined doctrine, such as the Assumption, I would say something which has been infallibly taught. I would be uttering an infallible truth. But I would not be infallible then or ever. Same with the CDF. Its opinion on this as on any other matter is fallible. "

"WHAT will life be like for the wives of Roman Catholic priests? "/ More Evidence of Hierarchy's Misogyny from History of Church

"On Sunday, the Vatican announced the creation of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, a special division of the Roman Catholic Church that former Episcopal congregations and priests — including, notably, married priests — can enter together en masse. The Vatican has stressed that the allowance for married priests is merely an exception (like similar dispensations made in the past by the Vatican) and by no means a permanent condition of the priesthood. If a priest is single when he enters the ordinariate, he may not marry, nor may a married priest, in the event of his wife’s death, remarry. Nonetheless, the Roman Catholic Church is prepared to house married priests in numbers perhaps not seen since the years before 1123, when the First Lateran Council adopted canon 21, prohibiting clerical marriage... By the time of the First Lateran Council, the priest’s wife had become a symbol of wantonness and defilement. The reason was that during this period the nature of the host consecrated at Mass received greater theological scrutiny. Medieval theologians were in the process of determining that bread and wine, at the moment of consecration in the hands of an ordained priest at the altar, truly became the body and blood of Jesus Christ. The priest who handled the body and blood of Christ should therefore be uncontaminated lest he defile the sacred corpus. The priest’s wife was an obvious danger. Her wanton desire, suggested the 11th-century monk Peter Damian, threatened the efficacy of consecration. He chastised priests’ wives as “furious vipers who out of ardor of impatient lust decapitate Christ, the head of clerics,” with their lovers. According to the historian Dyan Elliott, priests’ wives were perceived as raping the altar, a perpetration not only of the priest but also of the whole Christian community... "
Sara Ritchey is an assistant professor of medieval European history at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette.

Bridget Mary's Reflection
Let's hope that Pope Benedict will acknowledge the institutional church's  horrific history of misogyny in their treatment of  women including the wives of priests in the 11th century.
The policy of the Personal Ordinariate of  the Chair of Saint Peter prohibiting a priest to remarry after his wife dies certainly does not inspire confidence that change is in air! Equality, mutuality, partnership are words we would like to hear in describing "What will life be like for the wives of Roman Catholic priests?"  Roman Catholic Women Priests are living the vision of Jesus now in inclusive communities of equals and it is time for the institutional church to do so too.
Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP

"To Obey" by John Chuchman

To Obey
The word Obedience
comes from the root audire
to hear.

in its essence,
is Listening followed by Acting Free!
(not simply doing what another tells me).

time and again,
is quoted as
calling us to Listen.

It seems there are a number of areas
in my life
to which I must be tuned in.

I try to listen to
the wild word of God
as presented in Scripture,
hoping it warms my heart
and pierces it
with Love.

I try to listen to
as defined in Vatican II
as We, the Body of Christ,
men and women of all denominations and faiths
whose judgment I respect.

I try to listen to
who speak their Truth,
knowing I can learn from them,
also Children of God.

I try to listen to
the signs of the times,
the voice of social change
in society,
knowing human experience to be
the very stuff of Spirituality.

I try to listen to
Children, The Handicapped, The Sick,
The Dying, The Bereaved, The Aged
by tapping in to their
directness and simplicity
which offer a special access
to Truth.

I try to listen to
The Word of God in My Heart,
guided by conscience,
motivated by the promptings of
the Holy Spirit.

Simply doing as I am told
by whatever authority,
without Listening
to all possible sources of Wisdom,
is spiritual death.

I can
live and act with Wisdom
if I heed the call of Jesus

Thursday, January 12, 2012

"Messages from God"/ Homily by Deacon Donna Rogeux, ARCWP

Messages from God

First reading: 1Samuel 3:1-10, 19-20
Gospel: Mark 1:29-39
Do you ever feel like you are being swamped with messages? Because of the sophisticated technology that surrounds us, we have at our fingertips many different ways to communicate with others. We have email, text messages, instant messages, face time, Skype and cell phones. When we are surrounded by all of these ways to communicate it is possible to become overwhelmed with too much information. It can be challenging to sift through it all keeping the focus on the important messages that need our attention. It seems that a constant theme throughout history has been the issues around being able to communicate with others and with God. Even though we are light years away from the story we just heard in first Samuel, the problem of recognizing the voice of God seems to be a constant. With all of our modern ways of communicating one might think it would be easier now than in Samuel's time to communicate with God. But another way of looking at this goes back to the overloaded feeling we can have in this information age. There can be too many messages and we can miss the important ones. We can even miss the messages God sends us. So we must take Eli's advice to Samuel and Say "Speak YHWH, for your servant is listening." When we truly say these words and mean them we open ourselves up for unexpected experiences of God and may even find ourselves being led in directions we never imagined.

How do we listen to God’s voice in this world of many voices. How do we discern which voice is God’s voice and which voice is leading us away from God? Have you ever found yourself in a situation that is similar to the reading we just heard in the book of first Samuel? Have you ever heard the voice of God and thought it was someone else’s voice? Or have you ever tried desperately to hear God’s voice and become confused about which voice is truly coming from YHWH.

In today’s Gospel reading we see Jesus in the midst of his ministry going from place to place spreading the good news, healing Peter’s mother-in-law, teaching his disciples, only to find himself still ministering to others after sunset as they brought people to him who were ill and possessed with demons. This story illustrates that Jesus had the potential of feeling overloaded. An important detail in this story gives us insight about being able to discern God's voice even when we feel overloaded. The story reads, “Rising early the next morning, Jesus went off to a lonely place in the desert and prayed there.” Herein lies a key to hearing the voice of God and to warding off problems that come from being overloaded. Being alone in the desert opens up a space that can connect us to God. Taking quiet time away from our responsibilities spending quiet time of prayer and reflection can be the breath of fresh air that revives us when we feel overloaded. But ready or not God speaks to us with words, symbols, with music,without words, in quiet alone times, in community gatherings, in our happiest moments and in our saddest moments and moments in between. God seeks us even more than we seek God.

What does the voice of God sound like? Is it audible? How do we distinguish God's voice from other voices? These questions can be answered in many different ways because even though God probably doesn't Skype us or email us or call us on the cell phone there are many different ways to hear God speak. Samuel heard God at night when he was awakened from sleep. Moses heard God in the burning bush. God speaks to us in dreams and visions but the culture we live in seems more interested in scientific evidence than in a spiritual realm of unknowns. It can be very risky to tell about an experience of hearing God speak. The difference between our technological, scientific world and the place where we can hear God speak is one world emphasizes being able to figure everything out logically and the other is a place that allows mystery and just being open to the experience. When we truly say the words "Speak YHWH your servant is listening," we are opening ourselves up to this other place. In this other place we learn to see and hear differently. Fr. Richard Rohr explains this well in a meditation called "Learning to See." He reflects on a verse of scripture in Genesis that says,

“God, you were here all along, and I never knew it” (Genesis 28:16), says Jacob on awakening from his stone pillow.

Fr. Rohr's meditation says,

"The essential religious experience is that you are being “known through” more than knowing anything in particular yourself. Yet despite this difference, it will feel like true knowing. This new way of knowing can be called contemplation, nondualistic thinking, or “third-eye” seeing. Such prayer, such seeing, takes away your anxiety about figuring it all out fully for yourself, or needing to be right about your formulations.

At this point, God becomes more a verb than a noun, more a process than a conclusion, more an experience than a dogma, more a personal relationship than an idea. There is Someone dancing with you, and you are not so afraid of making mistakes. You know even those will be used in your favor. At that point you also have awakened from your stone pillow, and you know with a new clarity what you partly knew all along."

With this new ability to see without fully understanding it is possible to hear God in our experiences of this dance we encounter with God. We open ourselves to being able to see and hear God in a wide variety of experiences and we find ourselves on the path to fullness of life and kinship with God.

It is not always easy to hear God speak because sometimes we don't want to hear what God has to say. It can take courage to acknowledge the voice of God when this seems to be leading us into unfamiliar territory. But the rewards of liberation and life await us if we listen and follow God's call.

Have you ever tried to tell someone about a personal experience of hearing God speak? I will attempt to do that myself but with this disclaimer: it is hard to give the full picture because something seems to get lost in telling about it. And it is common to have very personal messages when God speaks. It is like you had to be there to get the full effect. We just find it hard to describe encounters with God. But I will give it a try.

I had been struggling with a situation that my son was involved in because my son's description of an incident was different than another persons description. I really wanted to believe my son's version but was unsure of who to believe. As I was driving one day the situation with my son was not in my mind at all and out of the blue came this thought that seemed very different from my own thoughts and it began with the words,"this is the boy who in second grade... "the voice continued and connected the second grade incident with the current situation. I found myself driving along with tears streaming down my face knowing that God just spoke to me and comforted me about the situation with my son. God was telling me that I could believe what my son had told me. This was a huge relief to me. And I know this was God speaking to me.

Simone Weil in her book,"Waiting for God" describes the natural longings that we all have to be in communion with God and directs our attention to God's role in this relationship dispelling the idea that encountering God is all up to us. On the contrary she illustrates beautifully that our part is small in comparison to God's. She writes

“The longing to love the beauty of the world in a human being is essentially the longing for the Incarnation,” “It is mistaken if it thinks it is anything else. The Incarnation alone can satisfy it” (109). “We do not walk vertically. We can only turn our eyes toward God. We do not have to search for God, we only have to change the direction in which we are looking. It is for [God] to search for us.”

Hopefully when we feel overwhelmed with too much information or with too much responsibility or with too much of anything or when we don't understand messages we are receiving because we are having trouble discerning whose voice we hear we will take Eli's advice to Samuel and say "Speak YHWH your servant is listening" and we will hear a message from God.

Deacon Donna with Bridget Mary on Sept. 10, 2011

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

"The Disconnect Between Bishops and Other Catholics"/ Riichard McBrien/NCR
"This is confirmed in a recent survey of U.S. Catholics, commissioned by the National Catholic Reporter and published in its Oct. 28-Nov. 10, 2011, issue. On the matter of Catholic attitudes toward the credibility of the bishops' teachings, the survey found that relatively few Catholics look to church leaders as the sole moral arbiters.This is particularly true with regard to official teachings on such issues as divorce and remarriage, abortion, nonmarital sex, homosexuality and contraception."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

"Bishops' Birth Control"/Sarasota Herald Tribune/Jan. 10, 2012/Bridget Mary Meehan, Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests

In response to Gail Collins' column "Reproductive rights debate creates early holiday hangover": The U.S. Catholic bishops' lobbying efforts for exemption for employers who object to artificial birth control is unjust. The hierarchy is out of touch with their fellow Catholics on this issue. Ninety-eight percent of sexually active Roman Catholic women in the United States use birth control; 70 percent use sterilization, the birth control pill or an intrauterine device (Guttmacher Institute, 2011). The teaching of the church since Pope Paul VI wrote "Humanae Vitae" in 1968, regarding the use of birth control, has never been accepted by most Roman Catholic men and women. If the institutional church approved of women priests, then women's voices would be heard and certainly included in decision-making that affects women's lives and well-being. Women and men have the human right to act as their own moral agents and make responsible decisions on family planning. How can pro-life church leaders oppose contraceptives that prevent unwanted pregnancies and abortions? The bishops should not impose the church's official beliefs on employees or on Catholics who dissent from this teaching. This violates a core Catholic teaching, primacy of conscience, which also applies to non-Catholics. Dozens of Catholic hospitals and universities offer contraceptive coverage now. Justice toward all, a core biblical value, should guide the bishops in their coverage of contraceptives for their employees.
This is what, I believe, Jesus would do and so should the bishops.
Bridget Mary Meehan,

Monday, January 9, 2012

"Woman Makes Stand at Altar by Leading Local Mass"/ Mary Smith, Roman Catholic Woman Priest

“I have seen women in tears — I’ve seen them weeping — when they come up to me after a Mass because they are so moved to finally be able to see a woman at the altar,” she said. About 35 people attended the Mass on Sunday; Mary Magdalene, 1st Apostle, is the parish that Smith presides over and has services at St. John’s Episcopal Church.