Tuesday, November 08, 2005

On The Agenda

I found this short position paper via a link in one of the comment boxes at De Civitate Dei. (Fedora Doff to Ashton Vaz. By the way, when are you going to renew your 'blog? When I click to reach your homepage, it says come back after September 15, 2004.)

The paper seems to be a work in progress, an attempt to develop a strategy. Given the subject matter and the slant, it's more like a screed than anything else. Can you say "fisking material"? (I knew you could.) My comments are in red.

Priestless parishes: Hope for the future
Huh? Must be a working title. But it becomes evident as one continues to read.
By Mary Ellen Donovan, OSF
I have a paternal aunt who has been with this order for over 50 years. I have no idea if they have ever met.

For women religious, the present time is both challenging and inviting. And this calling hasn't been this before now? Ask my aunt. The current upheaval and transformation in our Church (first instance of the corporate "we"; comment to come later) could only be the work of the Holy Spirit. I was thinking about a different celestial form. "Could it be, Satan?" New forms of worship (aka--liturgical abuse?) and new roles (like the proper role of the laity, when it doesn't blur or step over the line between the ordained priesthood and itself) are emerging within the life of the Church, in response to the spirit of Vatican II. How about a response to the letter and the spirit of Vatican II? Those documents must be read in the light of Tradition. And Archbishop Leveda has commented that a better translation of those documents might be in order. Although conservative forces fear the Spirit's work and cling to the status quo (you mean that the Faith is being handed down in an authentic manner, don't you?), the fact remains that male, hierarchical privilege is crumbling (is it?) --a welcome change for those attentive to God's Spirit. Being attentive is one thing; being discerning is something else. Isn't there a Bible verse devoted to testing those discernment?

Women religious today have a prophetic calling: to become God's hands and God's feet, bringing to justice the many structures of sin that have grown up in our Church (second use of corporate "we") over the centuries. And just what are those structures of sin? The Scriptures are full of stories in which God's people, through sin and greed, turned from the voice of the Lord. In every age, the role of the prophet is to bring the people of God to a new way of seeing and living. No, the role of the prophet is to bring the people of God back to His way of seeing and living, to return (turn again) to God.

We truly live in a liminal time--a time both of "not yet" and "already"--which pushes us out of our comfort zones to proclaim the presence of the Lord in our midst. Yes. It's called "living in the world but not of the world". Been around for about a couple millennia now. We must proclaim the new realities being born among us: models of Church that are communitarian (don't you mean collegial? Or are you thinking committee? Remember, it was a committee that created the camel), not hierarchical; feminine (the Blessed Virgin Mary is not a good enough model?), not masculine (or Christ?); inclusive, not exclusive (being included in what? Please read and understand 1 Corinthians 12) ; affirming, not condemning (and what's wrong with loving the sinner but hating the sin?); peace-bringing, not violence-making (what act of violence?).

We cannot expect male leadership in the Church to endorse this work of God (or is it from Satan? "By your fruits shall you be known"), although there are some sympathetic bishops (like those who "ordained" female "priests" and "deacons"). Make no mistake--we will experience persecution as we call to justice male structures of sin and establish new forms of power and leadership in the Church. So, "pink" will become the new "lavender"? And your female structures will not become as sinful? Note there hasn't been one word in this about service. It's all about control. Rather than confronting the present structures head-on, which would doom our work to failure (as it isn't already? See Acts 5:33-39a), we must adopt another approach: From our positions of power, we must work in solidarity to starve out of the Church all that is oppressive. Brilliant! Michael Schiavo will be your consultant? Remember, we are the Church. Of all the phrases taken out of context in the documents of Vatican II, the theme and variation that distorts "the people of God" has to be the most abused. The two instances of using "our Church" go right along with this, as if the Church is owned exclusively by this person and those of her ilk and used for their purpose.

If we want the bishops to face seriously the injustice of an all-male priesthood (you don't have an injustice if you don't have a valid calling), our best strategy is to participate vigorously in the life of vocation offices (sow weeds among the wheat) and to establish a rapport with the rectors of our seminaries (and, again, the corporate "we"; see above). We must network with each other, sharing our stories of success and learning from our failures. Refer to Acts again. Whatever we can do to further the crisis in priestly vocations will force the hand of the bishops to consider alternative forms of leadership--particularly an ordained priesthood that welcomes women. You don't want a direct confrontation; yet, that is what you will get. You eventually have to go through the very thing you are avoiding. And just what part of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis don't you understand?

Same screed, different day.

No comments: