Archive | February 2015

A Feminist Theologian Speaks on the Pontifical council on culture’s View of Women in the Church

The following is a great analysis by feminist theologian Carol P. Christ.

Has the Vatican Discovered that Women Should Be Running the World? by Carol P. Christ

So it is a [female] generativity that .. is … giving life to social, cultural and economic structures that are inspired by values, ideas, principles and practices oriented to the common good …

carol p. christ photo michael bakasThe above statement from the Pontifical Council’s document on“Women’s Cultures: Equality and Diffference” is a response to Pope Francis’s call for a discussion of “feminine genius” and its role in the Church. If in fact women are  “oriented to the common good,” then this is the best reason I can think of to elect a woman pope. And if a women are in fact hard-wired to think about the good of all, wouldn’t a woman pope’s first act be to dissolve the hierarchy that elected her? Is this why the Vatican is so afraid of the power of women?

From February 4-7, 2015 the Pontifical Council on Culture made up of 32 voting members (29 male clerics and 3 laymen) with the advice of non-voting Consultors (28 men and 7 women), discussed the role and place of women in the church and the world in relation to the preliminary document said to have been prepared by a group of unnamed women cherry-picked by the Vatican.

The Council was called to discuss the question of women in response to:

  • calls to ordain women;
  • demands to dismantle the male-dominated hierarchy of the church;
  • challenges to theology and moral doctrine by educated nuns;
  • the ongoing exodus of women under fifty from the Church;
  • the emptying of the convents, especially in North American and Europe.

Interestingly, in defining the essential difference between men and women, the authors of the of the document cite history (wrongly as Max Dashu shows), but not the Bible or natural law, as the basis for their view:

At the dawn of human history, societies divided roles and functions between men and women rigorously. To the men belonged responsibility, authority, and presence in the public sphere: the law, politics, war, power. To women belonged reproduction, education, and care of the family in the domestic sphere.

The the authors of the document probably believe as Roman Catholic tradition has taught:

  • that God created males and females differently;
  • that male and female differences are rooted in biology;
  • and that biology is destiny.

They may have recognized that such claims have been challenged by feminist interpreters of scripture and by feminist scientists and philosophers of science. It appears that they have yet to come across theories about egalitarian matriarchal societies past and present that undermine their understanding of human history.

The version of history the document presents gives authority in the public sphere to men, while assigning responsibility for reproduction and care in the private sphere to women. The authors know that this state of affairs no longer exists in this simple way (if it ever did) and that women today are asserting their right to power and authority in every aspect of the public sphere. While not telling women to stay in the home, the authors (many of whom must themselves have careers) seem to fear that if women go too far, they will lose the special qualities that their (alleged) confinement in the domestic sphere engendered in them. In other words, if women claim too much power, they (we) will stop caring about children and “the common good.”**

Thus, the authors tell us, women must always remember that caring and nurturing are the highest calling to which they (we) can and should aspire.

Readers may have noticed that when the authors of the document define the role of men as the public sphere they mention law, politics, war, and power, but not religion. Why? Is it because they know that women held power as priestesses in Rome, not to mention Greece, Egypt, and Sumer? Or is it that they view the male priesthood of the Church as ordained by God rather than history? Why, I wonder, do they name war as a realm history has reserved to men, while not mentioning that women and children are always victims of war?

I have a twofold reaction to the view of sex and gender difference presented in the document.

On the one hand, it is clear that what its authors call “bio-physiological” differences between women and men are being used in the the document to justify the continuation of male dominance in public spheres in society and Church. Given that theories about difference can be used in this way, wouldn’t we be better off simply to label all discussions of male-female difference as essentialism rooted in sexism and to throw them into the dust bin of history?

On the other hand, the authors’ statement about female difference as rooted in the mother-child relationship resonates my felt and reflected sense of different tendencies that do exist between boys and girls, women and men. The authors say:

It is the female universe that – due to a natural, spontaneous predisposition which could be called bio-physiological – has always looked after, conserved, nurtured, sustained, created attention, consent and care around the conceived child who must develop, be born, and grow.

This statement is not so different from Franz de Waal’s assertion that the origins of empathy and human morality are to be found in the care of female primates for their infants. De Waal stated further that while male primates are also hard-wired for empathy, they seem more likely than females to be able to override it in favor of aggression when threatened. As I suggested in the blog in which I discussed de Waal’s theory of the primate origins of human morality, there may be a way to acknowledge differences between females and males without using them to justify, legitimate, or sanctify male dominance.

We certainly should tell the Pontifical Council to stop using theories of differences between males and females to justify societal injustices, whether those are located in the all-male priesthood, the Vatican hierarchy, papal authority, or the Unholy Trinity named by Mary Daly as Rape, Genocide, and War.

But what if instead of rejecting all theories of difference, we acknowledged that evolution has produced different tendencies in the sexes without thereby limiting the capacities*** or determining the roles of either? In recognizing that mothers with infants created the bedrock of society and morality, we give women something to be proud of in our lives and history. Then, what if rather than using differences between the sexes to justify male (or female) domination, we asked what kind of societies we would like to create? My suggestion is that care and concern for the common good should be the highest values in both the public and private realms.

We might do well to place councils of women (not an individual woman in a group of men) in places where they would make the final decisions about how to treat the most vulnerable and whether to go to war.**** We might also conclude that our educational systems, political systems, and all other systems ought to reward those who display empathy and concern for the common good, rather than those who are competitive and self-interested. That way we would encourage all human beings to cultivate values our culture has disparaged by assigning them exclusively to women in a patriarchal context.

Then, perhaps we could set about creating a more just world in which power is shared and in which care and concern for the common good and the flourishing of all (human, other than human) really is the highest value.

*Thanks to Max Dashu whose blog refuting the Pontifical Council’s document alerted me to its existence toWoman Spirit Ireland for forwarding the link.

**The authors are not entirely wrong to worry about this. If all other things stay the same  (i.e., patriarchal), individual women can be enticed to set aside our hard-wiring for empathy in order to gain power, in other words to become like Angela Merkel in relation the suffering of the Greek people. The authors of the document for the Pontifical Council appear to have been seduced by Vatican power to set aside their empathy for other women and their own woman-selves.

***One of the saddest things about the document is that it can be read as assuming that men do not care for children or the common good.

****”Among the Iroquis, “The Clan mothers traditionally wield great influence in the well-being of their Clans and Nations. They have the authority to de-horn (take Chieftainship away from) their errant chiefs. [The society] is to be a matriarchal society as women are sacred as they are life givers, are title holders to the land, and [because] women instinctively know the price of war.”

Carol leads the life-transforming Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete (facebook and twitter)–early bird discount available for one more week only for the spring 2015 tour.  Carol’s books include She Who Changes and andRebirth of the Goddess and with Judith Plaskow, the widely-used anthologies Womanspirit Rising and Weaving the Visions and forthcoming next year, Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology. Photo of Carol by Michael Bakas.

Rev Chava’s Reflections on the Sainthood of Oscar Romero and the RC Church

85e27-olofguadalupeOnce again we present here the insightful and beautiful reflections of Rev. Chava Redonnet. She is discussing the recent actions of the Vatican to name Oscar Romero as martyred, a status that can lead to sainthood if a miracle can be claimed. I have no doubt that many miracles will be claimed for this man of God who walked with and stood with the poor and whose love, a miracle indeed, touched the lives of so many.

Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP

Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community Fort Myers, Florida

Oscar Romero Inclusive Catholic Church
Bulletin for Sunday, February 8, 2015

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear friends,
This past November when Rachel McGuire and I were in El Salvador, we got
word that Oscar Romero would be named a saint in 2015. By the time we left
that had already proved to be just a rumor, but it was pretty exciting for
a few days, especially since we had just visited Romero’s tomb and his
little house. There he is already called “San Romero,” as we call him here
in our little church.

For me it was like a nudge of encouragement from God: Keep on going! …but
Baptist Rachel was mostly exasperated. “Why does anyone need the Vatican to
tell them he’s a saint?” she would ask. Indeed, he’s been recognized as the
people’s saint in El Salvador ever since he was assassinated at the altar
almost 35 years ago. The Anglicans put a statue of him on the front of
Westminster Abbey in 1998, recognizing him as a 20th century martyr.

This week the Vatican announced that at long last it is recognizing Oscar
Romero as a martyr. This is good news for a number of reasons. It does
clear the way to being recognized as a saint, but it also opens the door
for the recognition of other Salvadoran martyrs like Rutilio Grande, the
four North American church women killed in 1980, the Jesuits of the UCA,
their housekeeper and her daughter, killed in 1989 – and thousands of
others whose names are not widely known. I do not know if that will happen
but the possibility is there.

There is something more. Monseñor Romero was killed because he was living
the gospel by walking with the poor and oppressed people of El Salvador. By
naming him a martyr, the church is finally agreeing that yes, he was living
the gospel, he was following Jesus by standing with the oppressed and not
with the powers that be.

And that’s what’s really exciting, here. Monseñor Romero is not more a
martyr than he was last week, just because Rome says he’s one. He will not
be more a saint than he is now when he is finally recognized as one. The
change is in the church. By recognizing Romero as a martyr, and eventually
as a saint, the church is moving closer to being what it ought to be: the
church that “stands with the poor, in order to denounce from the place of
the poor the injustice that is committed against them.”

“Romero is an uncomfortable saint. A saint that destabilizes us, that
shakes our comforts, forcing us to a profound examination of conscience,
that’s why many did not like him, because he was a saint very demanding
with his testimony.”
“The church needs to be like Romero, committed to the poor, free,
humble,ready to serve, sincere and courageous when comes time to defend
those that need to be defended”.
–                                 – Mons. Gregorio Rosa Chavez, Auxiliary
Bishop of San Salvador

Thank you, God of Love, for this movement, this opening that lets in your
love.
May it be a blessing to many.

Love to all ,
Chava
Oscar Romero Church
Rev. Chava Reddonet,Pastor

Healing the Brokenhearted-A Day in the Life: Rev. Judy’s Homily Fifth Sunday in OT

IMG_0113                                                               This is Kathy (middle) with Gini (right) and another ministry volunteer

Healing the Brokenhearted-A Day in the Life: Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time Feb. 8, 2015

On this Sunday we will walk a while with Job ( Job 7: 1-4,6-7) and then with the Apostle Paul ( I Cor. 9:6-19,22-23) and finally with Jesus (Mark 1: 29-39). This is not going to be an easy walk. The Psalmist pulls it together in saying “God heals the brokenhearted” (Ps 147:3). Let us enter the territory of the brokenhearted and find God there.

I have a dear friend from childhood who recently lost her mother whom she cared for over many years after both of their lives changed and they decided to live together. They were also companions and best friends. My friend wrote to me: “I know that she is better off now with God and out of her suffering but I am brokenhearted”. I understood deeply.

As a pastor and as a person I am no stranger to loss and broken hearts. My own losses are many and my heart has been pieced back together time after time. I understand Job. I understand his depression yet it is very hard to tolerate the depth of it. Like a true depressive Job says: “I will never experience joy again”(Job 7:7). One’s heart can break for Job and for all the “Jobs” we encounter who struggle between despair and being lifted out of it with a modicum of faith. Job is an example of deep and remarkable faith in the midst of so much objective suffering that he cannot be blamed for his despair. Neither can clinically depressed people be blamed for not being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But it is sure hard to be with them, their utter sadness and gloom can bring anyone down. Broken hearts may be mended and healed and yet those who cannot see any light tend to have the hardest time healing. They need the hand up that Jesus offered to Peter’s mother-in-law in the Gospel (Mark 1: 31). Several years ago I counseled a young man whose fiancé broke the engagement. “I cannot go on”, he said, “my heart is broken”. Because he was also clinically depressed it took many years before he could move on. Eventually he did find a new love and he has made a good marriage. He has experienced joy again.

Recently, I counseled Kathy, a woman of great faith who experienced major successive losses: of a husband to infidelity, divorce, then  death; of her son to drug addiction; of a daughter and her young family to distant deployment in the Armed Forces; of her home to great loss of income; and her health to a crippling illness. Yet,like and unlike Job, she remained steadfast in her faith without wavering. She told me that she had to hold onto her faith or she would “just crash”. She spent her time while waiting for affordable housing volunteering her time with those in need. In the picture introducing this article, Kathy is joined by Gini and another friend at Good Shepherd church. Gini was brokenhearted at the loss of her beloved husband Paul who was a great supporter of our ministry.  With his advancing cancer Paul would give  Gini a donation for us each time she volunteered to cook and serve for our ministry to the homeless and hungry.  She continued this when Paul passed, putting her sadness to work for the kin(g)dom.  When we spoke to Gini or Kathy each would always be thankful to God for God’s goodness in the midst of her troubles.

Several months later, Kathy was able to get a new place to live and her spirits were lifted. She created a beautiful home where all neighbors are welcome.

100_4022 While she still cried volumes sometimes she did keep her faith and did not “crash” as she kept on serving others. She was able to adopt a little dog to ease her loneliness. She loved him very much and her tears abated. Then, in the middle of a night I got a call and could not tell who it was as the person calling was crying so much. Finally she was able to tell me that the dog got out the front door, left ajar for a bit of air, and ran away. “I am brokenhearted” she cried. We talked it through and by the morning the dog had returned-for her joy did come in the morning. We want this to end happily ever after with this good woman and the little dog but later on he bit her badly twice and had to go back to the Rescue Shelter. (Thankfully for the dog who had more energy than this woman could manage, it is a no-kill shelter and he may get another chance). She again told me as she so reluctantly and tearfully had to let him go “I am brokenhearted”. Yet, she increased her volunteer work including reaching out to others in our community of brokenhearted and sometimes broken people as she waits to find an “easier” pet for her daily companion. We talk often as she copes with our people whose mental and physical states are often beyond understanding. I am sure that the right companion dog will be found soon, but her joy at what she has instead of what she does not have is uplifting to me and to all around her. Her house is now a hub of her community where many are hurting.

For her, faith in God and in Jesus the Christ is the center of her life. Like Paul, she has to preach using more actions than words, and she tries to be “all things to all people” learning all she can about their illnesses and their needs. It does not matter to her that some have a history of prison or jail time and it does not matter that her own life is still not in “perfect shape”. Kathy is trying to live the gospel. She wants to offer a hand up to the ill and downtrodden as Jesus did.

When we go through a day in Jesus’ life we see Jesus in relationship with his disciples visiting Peter’s home and taking Peter’s mother-in-law by the hand to lift her from her sick bed. People easily died of fever in those days and so his healing is saving her life. She is so well after his touch that she serves a meal for the group. An original Jewish mother some might say. But by now news of his healing of both the mentally and physically ill has reached the whole village and everyone appears at the door. So he heals them, no matter who they were or what they had, one after the other. Then he tries to rest and makes time to pray rising early. Once again everyone continues to seek him out. Exhausted as he must be, he then moves on to the next village because he must proclaim the good news. He goes throughout the Galilee preaching and healing the broken and the brokenhearted-he gives himself away.

When life makes us feel like Job, may we have the love and compassion of Jesus to keep on going and to give ourselves away so the broken and the brokenhearted are healed to build the reign of God with us.

Amen.

Beautiful Reflections From Rev. Chava Redonnet

A orillas del rio Cauca. La Rv Maria Teresa  con las niñas de la Comunidad, en una actividad celebrativa.Revda. Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia embarking in the  La Balsada  in honor of Mary with her community on the river Cauca, Cali, Colombia

This is an especially insightful spiritual Reflection by Rev. Chava Redonnet of the Oscar Romero Community in Rochester New York. Amen to her words of wisdom.  The hymn she discusses, written in both English and Spanish, was also the offertory hymn at my Ordination to the priesthood on 7/20/2015 along with Gloria Carpeneto of Maryland and Gabriella Velardi Ward of Staten Island, New York as Priests and Mary Ann McCarthy Schoettly, Deacon. As I recall, the choice of that hymn was unanimous and its meaning special to all there.  From that time on Mary Ann became a loving supporter of our Good Shepherd Ministry to the homeless. Her Sophia Community in New Jersey continues their generous support of our ministry as well as Rev. Chava’s ministry to the migrants.  i join Chava in thankfulness for the life of Rev. Mary Ann Schoettly who left these shores too early to join that great cloud of witnesses on the other shore surrounding us with love.

The chorus of that hymn- Lord, You Have Come to the Seashore (Spanish Pescador de Hombres- is particularly meaningful and lovely:

O Lord, with your eyes set upon me,

gently smiling, you have spoken my name:

all I longed for I have found by the water,

at your side,I will seek other shores”.

by Cesareo Gabarain, Published by OCP, 1979,1987.

Rev. Judy Lee

Oscar Romero Inclusive Catholic Church
Bulletin for Sunday, February 1, 2015
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear friends,
“Lord, when you came to the sea  shore,
you weren’t seeking the wise or the wealthy,
but only asking that I might follow.”

Back in April of 2009 when Mary Ann Schoettly was ordained a priest and I a
deacon in a synagogue in Philadelphia, that was the offertory song. Mary
Ann chose it. I don’t remember what significance it had for her, but when I
think back on it – when I remember standing to receive the offertory gifts
of  bread and wine as a newly ordained deacon, hearing that song all around
— well, I kind of get shivers, because there was no way of knowing then
how important that song would be in my ministry just a few years later.

On the long drive back and forth from the city to way out in the country, I
usually sing. It helps me stay alert! But singing my favorite songs to
Santiago, I sometimes become aware of how many of our hymns and songs are
written from the point of view of persons of privilege. Like “Good King
Wenceslas” – which ends, “you who now will help the poor, will yourselves
find blessing.” The beautiful thing about “Pescador des Hombres,” which we
know in English as “Lord, When You Came to the Seashore” is that it is
written from the point of view of someone without power or privilege,
someone who simply says, take me and use me, Lord.

A transformative moment for me in ministry happened at St Joe’s one Tuesday
afternoon about ten years ago. I was talking with one of our guests, who
was telling a very long story. As I listened, in the front part of my mind
I was hearing her story. In the back part, I was trying to pray for her.
But the prayer wouldn’t come. It was like it was stuck. “Huh,” I wondered.
“Why can’t I pray?” Then I realized that it was because I was praying down.
I was praying like, me and God were going to help her. Like I had it all
together, and she did not. I realized in that moment that if I was going to
pray for her, it had to be the prayer of an equal, one child of God for
another. It was startling because I didn’t realize until then that I had
that attitude.

The good news is, once you’ve had a moment like that, it’s hard to go back.
It’s like you’re standing on the bottom rung looking up, and always aware
that things look different depending on where you are on the ladder – and
that as long as others are standing on that bottom rung, that’s where you
absolutely want to be until you can all climb up that ladder together and
look at the magnificent view. I suspect that’s liberation.

So thanks, Mary Ann posthumous thanks for choosing a song that we would
sing again and again at St Romero’s. Your ministry was shorter than any of
us wanted, but it sure was prophetic!

Still looking for volunteer English teachers for Tuesday nights in the
Spring and Summer, and for a Religious Ed teacher for Thursdays. All in
English!
Keep warm and drive safely in all that snow!

Love to all , Chava
Oscar Romero Church                                    An Inclusive
Community of Liberation, Justice and Joy
Worshiping in the Catholic Tradition           Mass: Sundays, 11 am
St Joseph’s House of Hospitality, 402 South Ave, Rochester NY 14620
A member community of the Federation of Christian Ministries

Retired Call To Action Chapter Developer Bob Heineman Visits the Women Priests and the Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community

On Sunday February 1,2015 the newly retired national Chapter Developer of CTA (Call To Action, the Catholic progressive group seeking renewal and reform in the Roman Catholic Church) visited us at the Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community in Fort Myers, Florida. We were honored to have this courageous pioneer of justice in the church and in the world with us. He attended Mass and participated in our “word upon the word” discussion after the Homily. He said how happy he was to be with this inclusive community that included the poor and often outcast. He brought a word of blessing and encouragement to the people. Afterward he joined us in the Sunday meal and mingled with the people in the fellowship time.

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This is Bob (in purple shirt) with Hank Tessandori our ‘deacon’ and, also a Call To Action member, and  Good Shepherd members Ann Palmer, Harry Gary, Donnie Wright and little  Kiya and Riya Battles and the co-pastors Judy Beaumont and Judy Lee.  

Some of our other members who enjoyed meeting Bob, Mrs. Jolinda Harmon and Mrs. Linda Maybin and families with Aleigha Longstreth. .

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We were also happy to celebrate Rashawn Tobias’ 22nd birthday this Sunday-

IMG_0005IMG_0006 I have known Rashawn since he was a small sixth grader-look at him now!It is a special joy to have him with us for his Birthday.

Our local CTA Chapter (Southwest Florida Chapter) President is Ellen Mc Nally who, with her husband Jack cooks for, organizes cooks for and comes to serve with our Tuesday Ministry. faithfully.

IMG_0006This is Jack and Ellen with one of our church leaders Nate Chester and Pastor Judy Beaumont. As he likes to share, Nathaniel was once homeless and very alone, now he is housed, reconciled with family, and on Sunday he is a beautiful Lector, Minister of Music and assistant to our elders. He is so happy to have a church family and to reach out and help others. Yesterday (Tues 2/3) Jack was with us once again after recovering from hip replacement surgery. Everyone gave him hugs and applause.

The Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community is thankful to CTA, to Ellen and Jack and Hank and to Bob Heineman for their service,courage, and support. Thanks be to God!

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Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP, co-Pastor The Good Shepherd Community