Sunday, October 25, 2015

Synod on Family Fails to Treat Women as Equals and Partners in the Catholic Church by Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP, We Are Church Ireland, Press Statement, Oct. 2015

Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP,


"If a religious brother can be a voting member of the synod of bishops, why can't a religious sister? 
This was the question I asked Br. Herve Janson who is the first voting member of the synod of bishops who is not a bishop or priest. He is the superior general of the Little Brothers of Jesus and was selected by the International Union of Superiors General to be one of their 10 representatives at the synod. All the rest are priests. 
Theologically and canonically, he is are no different from the superior of a women's religious order, except for his gender. He is not a cleric. He is not ordained. As one of my Jesuit brothers used to say to people who thought all Jesuits are priests, "think of me as a male nun."
So how exactly did Br. Janson get in? What is the rationale for his being admitted to the synod and for women religious not being admitted to the synod?... "

 Bridget Mary's Response:  This final Report of the Synod on the Family is a setback for Pope Francis agenda of inclusiveness and compassion to Catholics on the margins. If I were giving it a grade, it would be D. Major reason, sexism! Once again, women had no vote, 

The biggest losers at the Synod of the Family were women.  The sad reality is  the Synod , no surprise,  was a male only event, even though women make up half of humanity. See article above.

The highlight is that Pope Francis spoke passionately about inverting  the pyramid model of the papacy and starting a process of reform that situates the pope in service to the the people of God, and offers possibilities for new models of church that are empowered and decentralized. 

Francis has spoken about expanding the roles of women in leadership in the church, but his actions have not matched his words.

Now would be a great time for Francis to  address the full equality of women in the church. 
If not now, when?

One immediate step that Pope Francis could take is to lift excommunications and punishments toward Catholics who follow their consciences including women priests and our supporters. 

So many of our women and men have suffered and we have stories to share that will make you cry and cringe!

I pray that Pope Francis begins a healing journey and restores the church's credibility by affirming primacy of conscience of women, a major church teaching that has been too often ignored by the Vatican and hierarchy.

 In my view, like the affirmation of internal forum for the divorced, Pope Francis could declare that the moral agency of women to make decisions in conscience in all areas of their lives beginning with issues related to sexuality and ministerial service in the church. 

The question is will Pope Francis take concrete actions on  behalf of justice and equality for women in the church  and end male oppressive power over women in our Catholic community or will women continue to be the elephant in the church, his big blind spot?
“The Synod experience … made us better realize that the true defenders of doctrine are not those who uphold its letter, but its spirit; not ideas but people; not formulae but the gratuitousness of God’s love and forgiveness,” the pontiff told the bishops.“This is in no way to detract from the importance of formulae, laws and divine commandments, but rather to exalt the greatness of the true God, who does not treat us according to our merits or even according to our works but solely according to the boundless generosity of his Mercy,” said the pope.The contested paragraph in the final document on remarried persons that received 178 votes also quotes at length Pope John Paul II’s 1981 encyclical Familiaris Consortio, saying that document means it is “the work of priests to accompany interested persons in the way of discernment according to the teaching of the Church and the directions of the Bishop.”It proposes that divorced and remarried persons make an examination of conscience, asking how they have treated any children they may have had in their first marriages, if they attempted to reconcile with their partners, and what example they are giving to young people preparing for marriage.“A sincere reflection can reinforce the truth in the mercy of God that is not denied to anyone,” it states. An earlier paragraph calls for the integration of divorced and remarried persons into the church community, but states such inclusion must be made "avoiding every occasion of scandal.""They are baptized, they are brothers and sisters, the Holy Spirit pours out in them gifts and charisms for the good of all," states that paragraph of remarried persons. "Their participation can express itself in various ecclesial needs.""This integration is necessary surely for the care and Christian education of their children, who must be considered the most important," it continues. "For the Christian community, taking care of these persons is not a weakness of our faith and of our witness regarding the indissolubility of marriage; in fact, the church expresses exactly in this care its love."
                           Press Statement   25th October 2015

                     ‘Final Synod Report a serious setback for Pope Francis’

‘We are Church Ireland’ is  very disappointed with the   final report  by Catholic Bishops meeting in Rome over the past three weeks on the issue of the family in contemporary society.
The report ‘s 94 paragraphs indicate that the majority of the voting Bishops do not favour change either in the teaching or discipline of the Church especially in relation to gay and lesbian people  and communion for the divorced and remarried. The position of the role of women in significant roles in the Church did not appear in this final document.
Cardinal Schoenborn of Vienna spoke at the presentation of the report that the issue  ‘of homosexuality was too delicate a theme ‘ to be addressed especially after the most powerful  African Churchman, Cardinal Sarah , compared’ gender ideology and ISIS as two Apocalyptic beasts ‘ and having ‘demonic origins’. 
Voting sheets show that the three articles dealing with the divorced and remarried were the most contentious and barely made the 2/3 majority to make it to the final report.
 However the language in these articles is ambiguous and the shadow of St. John Paul  was clearly evident in this final text .
While it reiterated his 1981 teaching on marriage (‘Familiaris Consortio’ ) it omitted the sentence where communion for the divorced and remarried is forbidden.
Pope Francis  was also disappointed judging from his final comments directed at the more conservative bishops when he stated that
 ‘the Synod had laid bare the closed hearts which frequently hide even behind the Church’s teaching or good intentions in order to sit on the chair of Moses  and judge with superiority  and superficiality difficult cases and wounded families’.
It is now down to Pope Francis  to act and exercise leadership.
It seems he is intimating that he will do so as a week ago he stated  :
‘The synod journey culminates in listening to the Bishop of Rome called to speak authoritatively as the Pastor and Teacher of all Christians.’  

‘ ‘We are Church Ireland’ hopes that Pope Francis will indeed exercise this authoritative role in favour of those who remain marginalised at the peripheries of the Catholic Church , gay and Lesbian people ,the divorced and remarried and the position and the recognition of the dignity of women ‘ stated Brendan Butler , We are Church  spokesperson. 086 4054984

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