25Apr Commitment to the poor must mean improving status of women

The BBC just rang me, an incident that in itself may well be a measure of the larger import of the situation. It’s a strange moment in history: Suddenly everyone in the world, it seems, wants to know what is happening to the nuns and what they can do next. “Next,” of course, means what they can do now that the Vatican is back to questioning both their intelligence and their faith.

In fact, what self-respecting journalist could possibly skip the story? After thousands of years of life-giving service to the church at poverty level — building its schools, its orphanages, its hospitals, its missionary outposts, its soup kitchens, its homes for the indigent, its catechetical centers — the nuns are told the problem with their work is that it has been “tainted by radical feminism”? And that by a group of men whose chance of knowing what the term “radical feminism” even means is obviously close to zero.

So what is going on? Especially at what seems to be a moment of the great change in the church of the autocrats and monarchs to the church of the Jesus who walked among the people and loved them?

Well, for one thing, what’s going on is the same thing that’s been going on for more than 1,500 years: Nuns everywhere are working with the people, hearing their stories, attempting to meet their needs, having a presence in their lives, simply intent on being the caring face of a merciful church — their ministers in the midst of confusion. Not their dogmatizers, not their judges, only witnesses to the Gospel of unconditional love.

At another level, what is going on now is a mysterious work in progress. This so-called “evaluation” of the life of women religious and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in the United States is a process begun long before this papacy and so, perhaps, difficult to stop midstream.

It may be difficult to halt the process for reasons of personal papal politics. Or perhaps it’s difficult by reason of the amount of work already expended. Or maybe it’s difficult to stop without resolution for fear of leaving festering sores likely to erupt again, by whim and fancy, without either cause or warning. In which case, the whole renewal of these efforts may well be benign and without issue, strengthened by increased understanding, and the first sign of a “These-are-my-beloved-daughters-in-whom-I-am-well-pleased” verdict the sisters have not heard since the Second Vatican Council.

On the other hand, the announcement has some very worrisome dimensions. Instead of planning to “complete the evaluation” or “continue the dialogue,” the report says this new pope has reviewed and condoned the present “plan of reform.” So it seems the plan is for the church to set up a dummy receivership that leaves a woman’s organization of 57,000 women being run by three men. Case closed. Spiritual criminality determined. Hostile takeover complete. The membership disenfranchised. The body merely another extension of Rome. Its creativity suppressed; its blinders secured; its study of new issues and ideas monitored; its voice for the poor muted by the personal agendas of three men.

So why bother to have an avant-garde among the people if the church does not really want to know the needs of the people to begin with? If the sisters have been anything in these post-Vatican II years, they have been, at very least, a bridge between the people on the streets and the people in the sacristies.

And what is the reason given for continuing the external control of the LCWR? Because, they say, the work of the nuns has been “tainted by radical feminism.” Well, if working to elevate the role and status of women around the world is tainted work, then we are obviously guilty as charged. After all, nuns were the first people in the church to set up schools to educate Catholic girls. The only difference is that we don’t do it because we’re “tainted by radical feminism”; we do it because it is at the center of the Gospel.

It is modeled by the Jesus who walked with women and saved the woman taken in adultery and cured the Canaanite woman and raised a little girl from the dead. He brought back to life a little girl who by very reason of her femaleness was considered worthless in that society — and in many societies now, and in all of them to some extent. How better to demonstrate the real value of a woman than to raise her, despite the despise around her, to life again? And when that kind of Gospel work becomes unacceptable in the church, why bother with any of it?

“Do you have any hope for any of this?” the BBC reporter asked me. And I answered without hesitation: “Absolutely, I do.” But how can you? the reporter went on. “Easy,” I said. “The church now has as its model, it seems, a man who is committed to the poor.”

And what does that have to do with this issue? Everything, I think. After all, who are the poor?

It is impossible to say you are committed to the poor and not know that two-thirds of the hungry of the world are women who get only the leftovers after their husband and children have eaten; two-thirds of the illiterate of the world are women enslaved by their lack of education as the chattel of men; two-thirds of the poorest of the poor, according to UN statistics, are women. And all of them ignored, rejected and omitted even from the language and the official theological development of the church. So much for life; so much for baptism.

It is simply impossible to be really committed to the poor and not devote yourself to doing something to change the role and status of women in the world.

As the developing The Shriver Report on women, to be released in January 2014, demonstrates with sobering clarity that to invest in women is to strengthen their husbands and children, their families and nations, their economic level and social status, their institutions and their intellectual contributions to the world at large.

From where I stand, if that’s what it is to be “tainted by radical feminism,” then finally, finally, let the Gospel begin in this entire church.


43 Responses

  1. Mary O Vallely

    “…simply intent on being the caring face of a merciful church — their ministers in the midst of confusion. Not their dogmatizers, not their judges, only witnesses to the Gospel of unconditional love.” Hear, hear. 🙂
    Respect for the sisters who are true models of Christian living. It will take time for some of the male hierarchy to recognise this but then learning is a long, slow process, isn’t it?
    Into your hands, Lord, we commit ourselves,
    Into your hands we entrust,
    All that is and all that holds our hearts,
    Into your hands we entrust.

  2. Con Carroll

    brillant analysis

  3. Darlene Starrs

    Thank you to Soline for sending this link and thank you Mary, for leading the responses. Respect for the 57,000 sisters would be to treat the sisters as colleagues of the bishops and not church women who need extraordinary supervision. I wish to further comment about the term ‘radical feminism’. It seems that when the “men” in authority do not like to be questioned, it suits their purpose to demonize the women – another way to put the women in their place.
    I always say:What does any man really hate? A wise woman! I realize that’s a sweeping generalization, but it does seem to occur rather frequently So, these religious sisters are somehow demonized and dismissed by the male heirarchy because, well, they are a “burr in the proverbial clerical saddle”. Pope Francis said to the Argentinian bishops this past week: Pray, that I do not become proud….that I do what Christ wants!…and not what I want….
    It seems that, while I fully believe Pope Francis, he may be blind to aspects of clericalism, that even he knowingly or unknowingly espouses!
    We pray that this manisfestation of clericalism is recognized by Pope Francis, in particular, and that he puts a stop to it….

  4. Soline Humbert

    @3 Darlene, I have to say, in my experience, I don’t agree with your statement “What does any man really hate? A wise woman!”. And I don’t find it helpful.
    I have received great love and support over the years from my own husband and some close male friends, including priests. I realise however that this could be interpreted as just proving I am not a wise woman…!

  5. Darlene Starrs

    Soline, what I said was an exaggeration and said in jest, irregardless, of the male chauvenism, I have experienced in my life: chauvenism which was not only impolite but ruthless! Unless I’ve understood incorrectly, your visit to Rome and meeting with the clerics there would indicate that chauvensim was alive and well! However, thank God, for the gift of men in our lives, whether fathers, brothers, cousins, priests, etc. who are respectful! Perhaps, that is more helpful – to say, that there all kinds of people. But, I maintain we see, throughout the history of the world and of the church, that women who were wise, were troublesome. Otherwise, I don’t know if three bishops would think they had to supervise 57,000 religious sisters!

  6. Eddie Finnegan

    Soline, many thanks for this timely intervention. I wish I could emulate your tact and wisdom. I had been thinking vaguely of re-migrating to Ireland after a 46-year absence. Then I read that Darlene, after much adumbration, is about to donate herself to the ould sod. So I reckon I’ll stay put where I am.
    Darlene, in the space of a few months, has been patronising to Karol Wojtyla, allowing that he wasn’t perfect but she might deign to admit him to the Mysticism Club; totally scathing about Joseph Ratzinger; and now she’s put Jorge Bergoglio on notice to mend his ways or she’ll be forced to place him “under extraordinary supervision”. Poor Catherine of Siena wasn’t in the same league at all at all.
    What chance would a poor lay male like myself have of surviving the coming tsunami when every Irish bishop and parish priest is queuing up at port or airport to escape the imminent wrath and rod of correction? Meanwhile a collectively Catholic sigh of relief rises from Edmonton and is felt right across Alberta and eastward to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

  7. Lloyd Allan MacPherson

    Now Soline, I’m sure you can appreciate a tongue-in-cheek, liberation statement from time to time. I do at least. Although in my personal experience it’s been the wise woman that I’ve come to love, I respect Darlene’s point regarding the opposite occuring rather frequently in things political, economic, legal, hierarchical. Darlene, I prefer the statement: “You educate a man. You educate a man. You educate a woman. You educate a generation.”

    It seems to me that there are hundreds of worldwide organizations who support women in their pursuit of religious equality. Where are they? How can they be assembled under one umbrella? This is the problem. Division. It gives the unified Vatican strength. We all stand for the same change but is there an effort to draw everyone closer together? People matter in this arena. Everyone. If those who rally for like causes are not included, then how is this change achieved? An initiative to increase worldwide numbers would help.

    This should be organized by women, laity and be fully supported by the ACP/PI/AUSCP and the like. A petition would form the basis of the mission statement. Remember, division is not our friends.

  8. Gene Carr

    Joan Chittister wonders why “even the BBC” is interested in what’s happening to US nuns. One wonders where Sr Joan has been all these years. Even the briefest acquaintance with the BBC reveals a deep antagonism to Christianity and to Catholicism in particular. And I am sure the pioneering work of nuns over the centuries to educate women or any actions to raise women from poverty are certainly not what the Vatican means by “tainted with radical feminism”.

  9. Chris McDonnell

    That Eddie was one of the best posts in a long time….
    Pity Catherine of Sienna is not in a position to contribute a posting herself.

  10. Willie Herlihy

    I believe Sr Joan Chittister is a gem to be treasured by the Church. Her clear articulation of how the Sisters are walking in the foot steps of the humble Nazarene is a revelation.

    If the humble Nazarene walked into a meeting of that chauvinistic organization called the Roman Curia to day, he would be considered a heretic.

    I firmly believe until that totally corrupt organization is given a root and branch reform, it will be virtually impossible, for any Pope to truly fulfill his role of Vicar of Christ.

    The chauvinistic old men who are accusing the Sisters of being “tainted by radical feminism”;
    are living in a time warp. .
    In the time the good lord walked this earth, women were mealy chattels of men, they were perceived as being completely inferior to men and totally subservient to men.
    In the intervening two thousand years women have evolved.
    Women in Ireland did not get the vote until 1922.
    We now have women as heads of Governments and heads of Multinational Organizations.
    Sadly, in the Vatican women are still being perceived, as they were in the time of our lord.
    I see only one ray of hope for the Church i.e. Vatican 11 is fully implemented, there by with collegiality, taking the governance of the Church away from the curia and giving it back to the Pope and the bishops and hopefully some women bishops.
    Christ specifically said his kingdom was not of this world.
    I ask you, what do you call the current cabal in Rome??????????

  11. Lloyd Allan MacPherson

    Eddie, another hilarious comment. I wish I could emulate your tact and wisdom as well. This website would be truly a little bit too serious without having a decent, if not average “pundit” to chime in from time to time. Hopefully, however not at the expense of anyone who may take the opinion of one a little too seriously. Like I mentionned about division, it is truly the work of the devil and it is rather dangerous in all its forms. For those who may not concern themselves with the seriousness of the work that goes on within this association, and may get carried away with personal digressions which divide and do nothing to support the discussion, I’ll say a little prayer for you in hopes that your Roman moment passes quickly.

  12. Nuala O'Driscoll

    @8. Was Paul not a radical? Was Jesus of Nazareth not a radical? Martin Luther with his radicalism highlighted the dreadful abuses in Christianity and the Vatican at his time. Bring on radicalism!!!!

  13. Paddy Ferry

    Chris @9 above,
    I prefer his response to Seánín; that is Eddie at his most brilliant best. however, Eddie is seldom less than marvellous.

  14. Soline Humbert

    I apologise if my terse comment above @4 conveyed to you that I dismissed or minimized in any way the extent of the sexism in the church, or your experience of it, and with it your suffering. It certainly was not my intention. I am only too aware of the pervasive institutional violence and spiritual abuse,and the deep wounds they inflict. However I wanted to ackowledge the existence of the many good men who are not sexist and who want to end the oppression of women, under all its forms. Together, women and men, we can create communities of equals, where we respect and love each other, brothers and sisters in the Spirit of Jesus.

  15. Darlene Starrs

    I imagine it is obvious that I am not a pundit. I would find it next to impossible to say the kinds of things that were said to me. I couldn’t sleep at night if I was deliberately insulting. I would hope that like Catherine of Sienna, I have written about the things of the Church that are thought to be in alignment with the Gospel and have critiqued the things that are not. That is how I have seen all the contributors on this website and that is what I would expect. I do not think, I’m that much unlike Pope Francis, who himself, has affirmed and blessed the Church, but who has also criticized the Church for becoming as he says “sick”. Pope Francis is a remarkable and integrated man of Christ, but who is also learning……I believe, we are students of Christ all of our lives.

  16. Joe O'Leary

    One of the great side effects of ordaining women to the presbyterate is that it would lift up the status of women throughout the 1.2 billion strong RCC. A church of the poor must treat women as equals and not perpetuate the patterns of disempowerment and humiliation that keep women disproportionately poor. A church that downplays women’s gifts is a church of male privilege, the very opposite of a church of the poor.

  17. Darlene Starrs

    Happy Feast of St. Catherine of Sienna to everyone! Thank you Soline for your genuine and clarifying words! Thank you every person on this thread for showing up and sharing your thoughts…Willie….I think women bishops are a fine idea and they may even be married to one of the male bishops….How’s that for a team! Although, I keep, giving the “plug” for the laity, however, in saying that….there’s a possibility….that ‘bishops’ might well come from the “sleeping giant”…..oh, the possibilities, could be endless….As Pope Francis says…”God is a God of surprises” and he also recently said….the story of the Church is a “Love Story”….You know, I’m just now struck, with an idea, that someone might write a book…about all the terrifically, inspiring things,….Pope Francis has said…let alone what he has done….Have a nice day….Oh, and by the way…
    Am I a tsunami? You betcha! Look out, here I come!……(Just kidding…maybe)

  18. Lloyd Allan MacPherson

    See now, gentlemen – there is something to be learned about that exchange in (14) and (15). This rarely happens amongst men. Darlene, my use of the word “pundit” would never describe your contributions to this website; Eddie’s on the other hand…I catch myself for hours trying to digest what point he is really trying to drive home. Personally, I look mainly to the posts of the women on this website as they are less confrontational and certainly more passionate about reform. Remember, our men are fighting for a completely different thing – women, as it pains me to admit, are still fighting for equality within the governance (you will always be equal in the eyes of God and certainly mine) and for as much passion as a priest will have in demanding reform, he will pale in comparison to a woman in her search for equality. That much I can guarantee. What you bring to the table is something special, I think everyone here can admit.

  19. Darlene Starrs

    Wow…..You are an officer and a gentleman!Thank you so very, very, much for your words of support and honor for myself and Soline, in particular, as you make reference to us….and of course for all women, who, yes, strive for justice, in many places, for many people, every day…..like those 57,000 sisters, but not excluded to them. There is powerful food for thought….in your statement…”he will pale in comparison to a woman in her search for equality”

    As well, thank you, to Father Joe, who joined the discussion on the thread….thank you for your words that promote women in the Church.

  20. Darlene Starrs

    In rereading this interview with Sr. Joan Chittister, I am stunned with the amount of information that there is for discussion. I hope that Sr.’s words are being studied everywhere possible today, especially on this Feast Day of St. Catherine of Sienna…..Again, I agree with Margaret Lee who had hoped that the Vatican’s position would have changed, and that Pope Francis would not have reappointed Cardinal Muller, especially, if he cannot create a situation where the sisters are treated with respect. To question their intelligence and faith, is to discredit them for sure, and maybe even to dismiss them, and that is simply beyond unacceptable. Please pray, as I will, that there is a conversion within the Church, and in particular, at the Vatican, so that, the gifts of women, are truly recognized, appreciated, and promoted. I know that Pope Francis’s first encyclical was about mercy and certainly would have ramifications in this issue, but my further point, is that, I wish he would write an encyclical about the conerns, he has, with the effects of clericalism, both with the religious, including priests, and with the people. He may have written about this, but I would welcome, his thoughts,on clericalism, in encyclical format. This is another huge discussion, but I think, it would cement the Church’s movement to total reform and the creation and manifestation, of a “People of God”, who were unmistakably, “called, set apart, purified, justified, and glorified” and able to lead the world out of darkness into God’s heavenly light.

  21. Marian

    I think women need to accept they are equal and not have men to tell them.

    And when they accept that equality in Christ, then tell the men, certainly the male clerics who would keep them ‘in their place,’ to follow the lemmings and go take a running jump. Humility is one thing. Doormat is quite something else.

    Come to think of it. Maybe these wise women are ahead of the game.

    (Not sure how to link an image.)


  22. Willie Herlihy

    @12 Nuala O’Driscoll.
    Here here Nuala: what is required is another radical Pope, who will fully implement Vatican 11 and take away the governance of the church, from that brood of vipers called the Curia and give it back to the Pope, the Bishops, and the People of God.

  23. Paddy Ferry

    I am completely at one with Joe O’Leary @16 above on the question of equality for women — at every level — in our Church and I find that this is the overwhelming view of the majority of thinking Catholic men of my acquaintance. It is also important to remember that the Amarach survey, commissioned by the ACP last year, found that nearly 80% of Irish Catholics were also of the view that ordination to the priesthood should also be open to women. So,Darlene, the vaste majority of us are with you on this question. I also think that the treatment of the American nuns is an absolutele scandal.

  24. Soline Humbert

    At this very difficult time we can give a visible sign of our support and solidarity with the American nuns by attending the talk by Sr Florence Deacon, Leader of the Conference of Women Religious, in Milltown Pk (Dublin) on Monday 13th May,7:30PM.She is stopping off in Ireland on her return journey to the US after the meeting in Rome of the heads of women religious. One can only pray and hope that they get a meeting with Pope Francis.5 years ago Pope Benedict did not meet them….This is a critical juncture which requires all the light and wisdom of the Holy Spirit we can bear to open ourselves to…

  25. Darlene Starrs

    Thank you for letting us know about Sr. Florence’s visit.Soline.Yes, absolutely, I really, really, want Pope Francis to meet with the sisters…wouldn’t it be something, if I was there, to hear her? Well, I’m excited about it….
    Thank you Paddy…..With you saying that to me….I don’t feel hollow inside…………
    Tomorrow’s reading includes the words of Jesus saying…..Peace Be With You…..and so I say Peace Be With You. to all of you

  26. Marian

    All here in this site are clearly good people – women and men.

    Just accepting we can and should work together, in and through it all.

    And we can when we keep our focus here – in reality.

    God bless

  27. ger gleeson

    Joe at 16, in a few words, you said it all.Thank you.

  28. Eddie Finnegan

    Marian(@26) I couldn’t agree more. But Marian(@21) I must intervene on behalf of the much maligned lemmings. Lloyd (@11&18)would be disappointed if I didn’t appear in my usual pundit role. [Or “pundit”, rather – I think Darlene has “smitten” him with “excessive” “quotes”. I’d prefer if he’d just call me Pandit or, more respectfully, Panditji!]
    But back to Marian’s lemmings. Lemmus lemmus is a prolific breeder, but he’s not stupid. Now and again a whole population of lemmings tend to swim across rivers in search of lebensraum and, yes, many drown. But they don’t dive off cliffs, blindly following blind leaders.
    And, wearing my Franciscan Habit today, ostriches don’t hide their heads in sand to make themselves invisible. Blame Pliny the Elder for that myth. And maybe I should put in a pre-emptive word in defence of those much abused Gadarene or Geresene Swine. What harm did they ever do anyone? Yet philosophers have named the GSF (Gadarene Swine Fallacy) after their miraculous demise.
    Lest Lloyd gets further indigestion from my Franciscan punditry, all I’m saying is:
    By all means let’s hammer the blindness, arrogance, chauvinism, clericalism, or even mild scepticism of all men, clerical celibates, CDF cardinals and other curial types, mad American bishops,silent Irish bishops and even the odd pope – but please, please leave the lemmings, the ostriches and the Gadarene swine out of it. They’re innocent.
    Now, Lloyd, I’ll let you back to your Natural Law. Tommie Aquinas needs all the help you can give him. Darlene has had him in her sights from as long ago as 1999.

  29. Lloyd Allan MacPherson

    Eddie, I’ll work on toning down my quotes as long as you keep up your studies in Sanskrit. Yes, our sniper friend is indescriminate and we give our thanks for that. Thomas Aquinas, on the other hand, is the ACP/USACP/PI’s real smoking gun. We lay folk can cross our fingers and continue to hope that the Associations break through on some level, but this is going to continue forever if legalities are not addressed. The Canons hold no basis for there ever being a gender equality within the Roman Catholic church. Natural Law states that men/women should not be placed under unnatural laws by any worldly authority. If I had a moment with Pope Francis (which is not out of the question since the Pope has visited with people in my situation), it would be the only topic of conversation.

  30. Darlene Starrs

    In following up with discussion about the priesthood and Thomas Acquinas…..my brother-in-law Bob….(whose mother was a Loftus from Crossmolina) by the way, told me about a radio program, Tapestry, on CBC who had recently hosted Professor Garry Wills, who wrote the book, “Why Priests?”. I recalled that Colbert interviewed him and he said the eucharist was fake, and a Father Barren has a video on you tube debunking Garry’s work. I decided I needed to check out for myself, what Garry actually says. Today, I’m frantically trying to get through the book, so I can have a blog about it for Sunday on http://www.v2catholic.com. Anyway, it’s been an exciting day, getting the book…which meant trotting off to downton Toronto and back. I’m writing as I read. After reading 2 chapters, I am already “perking” with ideas and excitement. It’s really not all that bad, in fact, Garry Wills confirms what I’ve been thinking and saying, yes, even before 1999 about the problems with Thomas Aquinas’s refined theology about the priesthood and transubstantiation. Don’t get me wrong here, I believe in the “real presence”, that Jesus Christ, is present and I’m not yet to the part of Garry’s book where he speaks of this specifically. The most important pages for me thus far, are pages 20 and 21. The links to the radio program and the youtube video are respectively: http://www.cbc.ca/tapestry/popupaudio.html?clipIds=2363323831 and the show is entitled: Spring Cleaning in God’s House and Father Barren’s critique is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wH7wONq0uY
    I want to say, that, from the outset, it is not true that Garry Wills hates priests. He, himself, studied with the Jesuits for 5 years and he dedicates the book to Henri Du Lubac

  31. Lloyd Allan MacPherson

    St. Thomas wasn’t perfect. His intellect flourished in matters of Natural Law theory where he echoed many of the greatest scholars of our time. In matters of gender equality, he sounded like a 6th grade pre-pubescent boy rambling. This is not to take away from his contributions, however; what he has stated regarding natural law is recognized by the Church as being the moral authority on life when our collective conscience is denied by an unnatural law. What he has written concerning the exclusion of women, the Church would never openly stand behind: “…men were superior to women in intelligence and dignity” yet they openly govern under these prescripts and we let them get away with it. Each Bishop should be “assessed” by the ACP on a few items regarding equality. A simple questionnaire to complete so that you know where they really stand. You can send it to them on behalf of your female parishioners who would like to understand a few things about them. You can also post who refused to submit to the assessment. It’s very easy to extinguish fire with water when you are not afraid.

  32. gerry oates

    The brilliant Sister is at the head of another story which if true marks a breakthrough.Dissidents are usually reported to Rome and the Curia then can get their Superiors to put the squeeze on them.The Benedictines are reported to have said that he Venerable Order has its own tradition of what constitutes obedience and this does not of necessity coincide with what the Curia has in mind. Is theis the breakthrough ? Papa Roncalli envisaged diversity in the church of the future.

  33. Soline Humbert

    Two very recent &interesting articles about the LCWR and the Vatican .Let us pray the Spirit filled dialogue bears fruit!

  34. Soline Humbert

    And more …No rift in the Vatican?

  35. Paddy Ferry

    Soline, thank you for these links. It was so uplifting to read yesterday of Cardinal Braz de Aviz’ honest and open account and even his confession that he “did not have to courage” to speak out.
    And, now today, we get this nonsense; the truth according to the CDF. Absolutely shameful and embarrassing!!

  36. Soline Humbert

    Let’s keep hope:
    Happy Ascension to all who still celebrate it tomorrow! (the French etc…)

  37. Darlene Starrs

    Jamie Mansen in writing for the National Catholic Reporter tells us that: “The Look and feel of the Papacy may be changing under Francis, but the fundamental understanding magisterium’s authority and the requirement that the women obey the men, I’m afraid will continue to stay the same.”
    (her article is to be found on http://ncronline.org).
    I maintain my admiration for Pope Francis, but I also know, that “not all has been revealed to him”, yet, and so, the pursuit of truth remains. Cardinal Aziz was quoted as saying: “Christ and the Church – The two have to be together. For Some people, Christ is fine but the Church isn’t: “You can’t separaate the two”. From my perspective….”we, the People, had better separate the two” because it times, it is very necessary.
    That statement of Cardinal Aziz, (and apparently he was simply echoing Pope Francis), holds no water. If we believed that, we would have to believe and follow all the “atrocious” behaviour of the Vatican! Our first authority is Christ….and unfortunately, so, unfortunately, regretably, and shamefully, we cannot automtically assume Christ and the authority of the Church are the same thing. If that were true, we simply wouldn’t have the issues, past and present…

  38. Eddie Finnegan

    Darlene, three modest suggestions:
    1. If the NCR is to be our new Bible, then it deserves reflective, unhurried reading. That way, you’ll get the names of the reporter and of Cardinal Braz de Aviz correct.
    2. Next time Evangelist Garry Wills brings out a new Gospel, please read it before rushing breathlessly to blog about it.
    3. Next time they elect a Pope, give him or her a few weeks to settle in – at least until you have revealed all to him/her. Try not to ooh and aah and wow and label him/her to fit Her/His Holiness into your own template of this world and the next. That way lies disillusion. Joe O’Leary of this parish has an excellently balanced article to this general effect in the current issue of The Furrow – a truly reflective Journal of the Contemporary Church. A couple of quotes from Joe’s ‘New Pope, New Hope’:
    a. “The wishful attempts to draw a contrast between Francis and Benedict keep falling flat.”
    b. “It is really too early to say anything substantial about the pontificate of Francis. The best we can hope for is a low-key pope, who benignly encourages manifestations of Catholic vitality in every sphere. It is from below, not from above, that the life of the church springs.”
    [Yes, Darlene, you will rush in to tell us both that it is from ABOVE that all quickening comes – and no doubt Fr Joseph S. O’Leary and I will resignedly agree with you.]

  39. Darlene Starrs

    Eddie, Surprise, Surprise, that you should rush in, as it were, to speak to me……sort of…I repeat….I still, admire, Pope Francis….he remains, the greatest hope we have for change, as a pope, in recent years….So, yes, poor Darlene’s heart is somewhat broken today…because of his attitude…that the authority of Christ is always the same as the authority of the Church….That attitude is just plain wrong/ and perhaps, yes, it is idolatrous…
    So, while Pope Francis has got a lot of it right….there remains, some things that have to to continue to be “redeemed”…That’s the work of the Holy Spirit and those that the Holy Spirit sends out to renew the face of the earth and the Church….I have no regrets as to what I have ever said and had printed here or anywhere else.
    Can you say the same?

  40. mjt

    Eddie Finnegan quotes Joe O’Leary:
    “It is from below, not from above, that the life of the church springs.” The first problem with this is that each of us has only one lifetime in which to know, love and serve God, and that we can`t wait for change if it happens at that glacial pace. The changes that would bring life to the church are obvious. Why should we have to wait any more generations when they could and should happen now?
    Secondly, it seems to be that in our church “above” prevents “below” – leadership, if that`s what it can be called, is often actually an obstacle to our faith and worship, as seen in the misuse of its power and in its apparent indifference to the anguish of so many of its members. Cardinal Braz de Aviz, embroiled in just one of the issues at the moment, said this Wednesday, “The matter on obedience, that part was OK. But the question on authority, that translation was not accurate. I was trying to stress that authority cannot be domination.”
    And it is domination that is the issue for so many of us, when church leadership appears to think itself exempt from ordinary decencies of conduct, like listening when engaged in dialogue, and needing to be informed and rational when making pronouncements that affect our lives.

  41. Eddie Finnegan

    Indeed Darlene(@39), with Edith Piaf I can say, “Non, je ne regrette rien.”
    But, with Pope Francis, I could never say: “Rest assured I know where we have come from, where we are now, and where we ought to go.” I suggest that it is your all-pervasive attitude of omniscience, with so little real evidence of its presence, and your penchant for colonising the mission of the Holy Spirit, that are as much dialogue-killers here as they were in the letter columns of the Western Catholic Reporter towards the close of the last millennium.

  42. Eddie Finnegan

    @mjt(40 above):
    I agree with you on all of that – but don’t let my use of one little sentence from a wider quote from Joe’s six-page Furrow article put you or anyone else off reading “New Pope, New Hope”. Indeed I hope our Website Moderator can reproduce it here in the near future.
    But I suppose it is in the nature of online comment that little quotes get borrowed as pegs to hang whole new discussions on. We all do it – especially me!

  43. Darlene Starrs

    The only thing, I think, that could be a dialogue killer is cyber-bullying….maybe? We’ve seen plenty of new work by the Holy Spirit as of late, even with the “gliches”.