"Catholic women religious are among the most prophetic people within our Church," stated Aisha Taylor, executive director of WOC. "The Vatican has intentionally created an atmosphere of fear and intimidation, and the women who signed the letter and our petitions add their voices to the thousands of WOC members who, for over 30 years, have called for women's full inclusion in the Roman Catholic Church. Many of the signers have been members of WOC since the first conference in 1975." (The sexual abuse crisis has given the Vatican and it's diocesan leadership a lot of practice with fear and intimidation.)
Among the signers are Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB, who defied the Vatican in 2001 and spoke at the first Women's Ordination Worldwide conference in Dublin; Sr. Theresa Kane, RSM, who made national headlines when she publicly requested, with Pope John Paul II sitting near-by, that he ordain women; Sr. Ivone Gebara, CND, one of Latin Americas leading theologians.
Bourgeois' threat of excommunication is the second attempt this year in silencing the voice of women and men religious who prophetically stand in support of women's justice and equality in the church. On June 26, Sr. Louise Lears, a Sister of Charity who dedicated her entire life to serving the Church, was penalized by Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis for attending the ordination of two Roman Catholic women.
The Pontifical Biblical Commission found in 1976 that there is no scriptural reason to prohibit the ordination of women. The Bible describes how women were prominent leaders in Jesus' ministry and early Christianity. In all four gospels, Mary Magdalene was the primary witness to the central event of Christianity-Christ's resurrection. (This is true, but male clericalism derives it's power not from the central event of the resurrection, but from ancient notions of annointed priests sacrificing to appease unseen gods.)
"It is long overdue for the Vatican to respond to the church's need for an inclusive clergy, which embraces women--all of whom are created equal and can be called by God to serve as priests in an accountable and inclusive Catholic Church," Taylor concluded.
Founded in 1975, the Women's Ordination Conference is the oldest and largest national organization in the world that works solely to ordain women as priests, deacons and bishops into an inclusive and accountable Roman Catholic church. WOC represents the 63 percent of US Catholics, and millions of Catholics around the world,that support women's ordination. WOC also promotes new perspectives on ordination that call for more accountability and less separation between the clergy and laity. For more information, visit http://www.blogger.com/ The NCAN letter follows. (And that is the problem. Traditional theology about the priesthood has done everything in it's power to increase the separation between the clergy and laity.)
NATIONAL COALITION OF AMERICAN NUNS
FOUNDED TO STUDY AND SPEAK OUT ON ISSUES OF JUSTICE IN CHURCH AND SOCIETY12434 Klinger St., Detroit, MI 48212, 313-891-2192
Via FAX: 06.69.88.34.09
December 12, 2008
The Vatican's threatened excommunication of Fr. Roy Bourgeois because of his belief in the priestly ordination of women has diminished our Church.
As women religious who love our Church and who have served the People of God for decades, we support our brother Roy. As a Maryknoll priest for 36 years, he has followed the Gospel of Jesus in his ministry for peace and justice by speaking out against the war in Iraq and against the torture of countless human beings, aided and abetted by the U.S. government's School of the Americas. He has been a prophetic voice for thousands in our society.
Roy is now a prophetic voice in our church because of his support for women's equality in all Church ministries. Excommunications depend not on edicts or laws, but on compliance. We do not believe Roy is outside the community and we embrace him wholeheartedly. Like Roy, we know women who testify that they are called to priesthood. We know that Jesus did not discriminate in calling both women and men to ministry. And we know that our church needs the gifts of everyone called.
So we join Fr. Roy Bourgeois and the majority of U.S. Catholics, who believe that women are called to priestly ordination in the Catholic Church. We look forward to the day when Catholic women, following in the footsteps of Mary Magdalene who announced the Resurrection to the male Apostles, will minister as full equals in our church.
To be truthful, I had never ever looked at the fact that the Church's sexual teachings could be considered nothing more than an adjunct to prop up the power of it's priesthood as sacred, holy, and set aside from the laity. I never looked at it I suppose, because it is so obvious as to be entirely missed. The Catholic obsession with sexuality is mandated by the very nature of it's priestly theology. This is no different than the virginity of priesthoods mandated by various Roman and Greek divinity cults. These cults also believed the efficacy of their priesthood was directly proportional to the virginity of their priesthood. No wonder the concept of married and female priests is more of an anathema to clerics like Cardinal Arinze than the fact the Church harbors pedophiles.
If the 'power' of the priesthood is based in notions of sexual purity and abstinence, then it only makes sense that any other sexual activity be permissible only if it's linked to the power of fertility, and most specifically the male end of fertility.
One also can't leave out the fact that in the Roman culture in which the Trentan notion of priesthood actually found it's genesis, the penis was used as a symbol of power--a charm to ward off evil. It was frequently worn around necks as a talisman. In this milieu it would make sense that one would sacrifice sexual power for spiritual power. The official sacrificer must officially sacrifice something in order to obtain official power.
I'm glad that over 100 professed women have come out in support of Fr. Roy, but have serious doubts that the same kind of support will be found in the ranks of his fellow clergy. The women have little to lose in the way of power within the clerical system, and the men have everything. I guess we'll see just how many are willing to place their own power on a different sacrificial altar. I suspect there won't be many, and those will be retired from active ministry. Until the Cardinal Arinze's of the world retire, and the light of reason illuminates the clerical myth, that's to be expected. In the meantime we can expect more and more ranting on the sexual sins of the laity and the importance of the traditional priesthood. Apparently they need each other.