Thursday, August 27, 2020

Review of a New, Provocative Book: Crisis and Challenge in the Roman Catholic Church by Debra Meyers and Mary Sue Barnett


I highly recommend a new book, Crisis and Challenge in the Roman Catholic Church: Perspectives on Decline and Reformation  edited by Debra Meyers ARCWP and Mary Sue Barnett ARCWP.  This thought-provoking collection presents ten scholarly essays analyzing clerical sexual abuse, institutional misogyny, hierarchy dysfunctions and offers a new hopeful future that embraces genuine reform and transformation.

In "In chapter one, entitled, "After the Smoke  Clears," Mary Hunt offers an  brilliant overview of the contributions of Catholic feminist theology to the transformation of the Church in our times.  She provides examples of groups and organizations who are achieving remarkable progress toward equality and inclusivity. 

Paul Tenkotte, in chapter two, "Cleaning the Church Attic,"  outlines the case for change rooted in Jesus ' criticism of Jewish leaders who taught false interpretations of divine laws and the disciples as messengers of Good News that salvation was in God's hands. 

In "Grave Injustice and Great Deception, Miriam Duignan deconstructs the official Church's arguments against women's ordination based on sexism  and argues that the present teaching is the fault of a hierarchy clinging to medieval teaching on the subordination of women. She concludes that the path to the full equality of women lies with actions by  the people: "We must engage with the church's own teaching on justice and apply it to women. We must expose the church's own history to model what real equality looks like and we must confront the church's hierarchy to ask why they are ignoring the will of their own constituents who have seen through the great deception and will not longer tolerate this grave injustice."  

Mary Sue Barnett, in chapter nine, "Awareness of the Divine Feminine, Holy Sophia shares  her vision and inspirational examples of  the development of  a feminist consciousness as a powerful pathway for  healing and transformation.  She writes: "the via feminina is a pathway into the fires of transformation where there is a fusion of love between the Divine and one's soul, between the female self and Holy Sophia. It is a path of radical authenticity and freedom. It births an honesty and boldness in her soul that she lives on behalf of herself and the lives of other women and girls."

I highly recommend this book as a text in every religious studies class particularly in Catholic Universities and seminaries. It is also a must read for Catholics who believe in and are working to create a more inclusive, egalitarian and just Church.

Review by Bridget Mary Meehan 

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