Monday, May 15, 2023

Ida Raming RCWP with Christaine Florin- Article

Left: Ida Raming RCWP            Right: Christaine Florin

“Ida Raming's bishop's apartment lies between heaven and earth. On the tenth floor of an enormous high-rise building in the Asemwald district in the south of Stuttgart. The futuristic settlement island from 1970 - three immense high-rise blocks on the hill of an arterial road, surrounded by a lovely hilly landscape - is reminiscent of the urban development ideals and progress optimism of that time. People wanted to create something new, cut off old habits, break with tradition, think big. Last but not least, high-rise buildings are the greatest possible contrast to stately homes and representative villas. Here, everyone is equal.

It is no coincidence that Ida Raming feels at home in the Asemwald. Her small apartment is full of mementos of her life's struggle against supposedly insurmountable traditions. More precisely: against the discriminatory exclusion of women from the priesthood in the Catholic Church. The now 90-year-old has fought for this, in thoughts, words and works.
For the interview with Christiane Florin, responsible for religious topics at Deutschlandfunk and also author of passionate books against the discrimination of women in the Catholic Church, she has set up a small library to the left of her chair: Her doctoral thesis from 1973, the later new editions, plus several other writings. If one were to add Christiane Florin's books, one would have not only a scientific-theological but also a psychological-practical treatise on the history of clerical injustice from the perspective of disappointed Catholic women.

On the right side of Ida Raming's armchair is the paperback edition of the Roman Catholic missal with the liturgical texts for each day. A small detail only, but it marks the difference between the two women. Ida Raming felt early in herself the desire to become a priestess, and in 2002 she had herself ordained to the priesthood on the Danube by the excommunicated Argentine bishop Romulo Braschi, founder of an independent Free Catholic Church. For this she was excommunicated herself.
Nevertheless, she will not let go of her church and continues to fight for recognition and justice. Christiane Florin, who was recently awarded the Walter Dirks Prize for her journalistic work and her enlightening research into the abuse scandal, is tired of it. She no longer places any hope in this church, although (or perhaps because) she has tried for a long time. Florin and Raming know and appreciate each other. They agree on many points in their analysis, but not in their conclusion. But it becomes clear why so many younger women leave the church or want nothing to do with it.

Fundamentals of misogyny "Truth is stronger than lies," Ida Raming says right at the beginning. It is her conviction that keeps her going, the mission that drives her. The lie is the disdain for women, an anthropology devised by patriarchs that wants to deny women access to the altar and ordination, even though there is no biblical justification for it. She once made this lie the subject of her dissertation. Even today, her voice sounds incredulous and angry as she reads from a commentary on the Church Father Ambrose (339-397). "Woman must veil her head because she is not made in God's image. In order that she may be visible as subject to violence, and because sin has taken its beginning through her, she must wear this sign." She quoted these and many other passages in her book to point out the foundations of the Catholic image of women that are still effective today. She taps her index finger to her forehead when she is upset about dogmatic theology's forgetfulness of history and raises it when she lectures. She will have to touch her forehead countless times this afternoon. This millennia-old lie. Yet the truth is lying on the table, right next to her. One would only have to read it.

Again and again, she interrupts her speech and asks that this document or that folder be handed to her to clarify what she has just said. It is difficult for her to stand up, but her sentences are precise and her voice is fresh, full of energy and passion. Everyone needs to be convinced. Bishops as well as visitors. Anyone who has something to say in the Catholic Church has certainly received mail from Ida Raming. Historical as far as it goes "If you research this as historically as you do, you realize the mendacity of today's argumentation," Florin counters. She speaks more soberly, more detachedly. With her own irony and inimitable wit. But also a touch more bitter. A few years ago, she too set out to find out what was behind the injustice. Not because she ever wanted to become a pastor or priest. The question of ministry is of secondary interest to her at best. She never even wanted to become an altar server, even though this was just becoming possible in Germany at the time. Christiane Florin researched out of pure curiosity. "I asked myself: what would I actually have to believe about the nature of women if I were properly Roman Catholic?" She combed through the statements of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith as well as the influential writings of Joseph Ratzinger and repeatedly came across a hair-raising image of gender. "The texts are scandalous," she says, "because they state: Because you are female, you have this destiny and this place that we assign to you and that you must not leave." 

In 2017, she wrote a book, "The Women's Revolt," about her search for the theological underpinnings and practical shape of misogyny in the church. Her conclusion: "The history of the Catholic Church is a consistent history of misogyny." Structural discrimination, she said, begins well before the issue of office, namely when (church) men describe the "nature of women" as servile and passive. First, it was argued for centuries, with reference to the evil Eve, that women lacked the likeness of God. Recently, the reason for the exclusion is that "Jesus was a man and called only male apostles. But that "is not a historical argument at all," Florin said. It was invented, he says, only when talk of women's inferiority came under pressure with the women's movement and became so embarrassing that no one who wanted to be taken seriously could continue to assert it with impunity. "That's right!" says Ida Raming. "Today they don't say the woman is inferior, they say she is different. But the legal consequences are the same." Lies and deception, she says, "but we're not so stupid that we don't recognize that." Again, the index finger goes to the forehead.

Ida Raming at some point no longer adhered to the rules that derived from this reasoning. "An unjust law demands no obedience," she says, quoting from the book of Acts, "You must obey God more than men." While studying theology, she had already felt the desire to become a priest. At first, the professional hopelessness as a theologian had thrown her into crisis. "I suffered a lot from not finding a place in the church as a woman," Raming says of that time. Then she met Iris Müller, who had come to Münster as a refugee from the GDR to study theology at the university. "She fought for women's ordination from the beginning, and that made a big impression on me," Raming says. It was the beginning of a lifelong friendship. Iris Müller also lived in Asemwald's high-rise for a long time. When she needed care, Ida Raming visited her as often as she could in the nearby home. The name Iris is written on a coffee cup, white on a blue background. Ida Raming vividly recounts how she and Iris went to see Joseph Ratzinger in Münster, who was a young professor and council advisor at the time. The conversation was polite, but ice cold. He did not look at her. Ratzinger let the two students know in a detailed letter after the conversation that he would not stand up for their concerns. 

Many years later, in June 2002, Raming and Müller were among the seven women who were consecrated on a Danube ship. A photo shows Raming and some of her comrades-in-arms beaming and in full regalia. Consecration as resistance. The excommunication followed immediately. Joseph Ratzinger had signed it. Even today, Ida Raming is outraged above all by the official reactions, which she quotes by heart. They would have brought trouble on the church, damaged its divine constitution and, moreover, missed her destiny as a woman. Today, no one would say that anymore. Unlike in 2002, the Danube women priests are perceived more as pioneers. "When we were ordained, it was said that we were completely out of character. The Munich ordinariate spoke of a 'sectarian spectacle.' Now there is no more of that." The wind has changed. As a student, Ida Raming still had to find a "Doktorvater" and a publisher to publish her dissertation. Today, Germany's Catholic women's associations and half the bishops' conference are pleading for the opening of all offices. A late cold comfort for Ida Raming, one might think. But her eyes sparkle when she reads out letters of reply from bishops, from which she concludes that the writer has changed his mind about women's ordination. She is convinced she has triggered a change of thinking in many a dignitary. The progressive ones, she says, all wrote personally. One bishop expresses "gratitude" for her letter. Another writes that the exclusion of women is "a great challenge," though ordination to the priesthood is "not a human right." Each letter of response is like a drop of oil in the fire of her energy. 

Even in the Vatican, Ida Raming thinks, they probably have a few allies. Humble pleas to the Pope Christiane Florin has little understanding for this optimism. "Where do you get the hope that arguments can change anything?" she asks, addressing Raming. "Too many people benefit from this system. It's attractive to them that there are areas where women are left out." She also doesn't see a "women's revolt." On the contrary. Why, she keeps asking herself, is there actually so little opposition to this teaching? She spoke with many committed Catholic women and had the impression that many were actually quite content with their assigned place. "That has a lot to do with Catholic socialization, for example, that you are habituated to think in terms of possibilities," Florin says. "Especially in discussions of church policy, women think in terms of limitations: They just do what is possible under church law." Even in the Synodal Way, he says, the women's issue fell almost completely to the back burner. There, he said, it was agreed to humbly ask the pope for an examination of the diaconate of women. "Even the bishops from the so-called reform camp chickened out," Florin comments. "If they really wanted equality, they could just ordain a woman and see what happens." Those who lose office as a result, he said, lose it for their convictions. "But I think they are just not convinced at the core that the sexes should be equal." 

Ida Raming, on the other hand, took the Synod Way resolutions as encouragement. "We are only making small progress, but the trend is toward full equality," she says. She has devoted her entire life to this cause and has no regrets. The truth will prevail. Only when that will be, she can't for the life of her say. Until then, they just keep going. In the meantime, she has become a bishop. She sometimes holds services in the small Protestant chapel in Stuttgart-Asemwald, and she is in constant exchange with a network of Catholic women priests that includes about 300 women worldwide. And Christiane Florin? Can she not even imagine a change? "Yes, I can," she says, "when something collapses, there is change." The collapse, after all, is discernible. "The Catholic Church in Germany is losing the young women," Florin says. Perhaps that will eventually lead the church to decide against discrimination. Ida Raming says goodbye sitting down. She is convinced: Others will stand up and continue on their way.”
 (Posted in Facebook by our Deacon, Regina Laedwig 
»Wahrheit ist stärker als Lüge«
»Wahrheit ist stärker als Lüge«
Ida Raming und Christiane Florin stehen für zwei Generationen des katholischen Feminismus – und sind sich keineswegs bei allem einig. Ein Treffenida Raming on left

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Visit with Carol Driggers at Sarasota Rehabilitation and Health Center today

Carol was delighted with the prayer shawl I gave her. It was knitted by  Joanne Corbeil, a member of our community at Oakwood Manor. I have her a large mug filled with lifesavers.

Carol was in good spirits and shared that she is getting good care. Before leaving, we prayed together.