Sunday, August 12, 2012
It Really All Comes Down To A Difference In Consciousness And Vision
The LCWR finished their deliberations on Friday and released their response concerning the mandate from the CDF. Two ideas struck me as important, the idea that dialogue with their bishop overseers could result in an understanding that the Church of the future must open up meaningful avenues of participation for religious and laity, but especially women; and that they will insist the dialogue be between equals and will cease dialogue if they sense the path forward includes compromising the integrity of their mission. I take this to mean there will be no such thing as compromising their integrity to avoid scandal to the Church or embarrassment to the hierarchy, ala Msgr Lynn in Philadelphia.
The following are a couple of excerpts from a piece written by Tom Fox of the National Catholic Reporter. Fox was a presenter at the conference and was there for it's entirety. He has presented a first person summary that I found fascinating:
......Coming after several days of deliberations, the LCWR statement is anchored in an unstated belief in process, of forward movement, and a sense that at this time in history women are being asked by nature itself to lead the way. It is also anchored in a belief in a loving God who not only created the universe, but who also remains active in it, as the Second Vatican Council has taught. (I think women are most certainly being asked to step up to the plate and add their input as equals. The men have come to the end of their time as sole arbitrators of cultural mores and direction.)
The women see this God Spirit walking among us and before us and calling us forth. Sometimes in our hostile and uninviting world, they seem to say, this requires special courage. The women view this as part of an evolutionary process. And while our common journeys, as experience shows, are fraught with peril, (personal and institutional sin are very much part of our story), the women paint a hopeful picture, one in which women and men of good will can work together on behalf of justice to build the Reign of God on earth.
This vision is a distinctly Catholic sacramental vision growing out of ancient Catholic traditions, more recently contextualized by the writing of the late Jesuit Father Teilhard de Chardin, as well as Passionist Father Thomas Berry and captured in conference talks by the futurist Barbara Marx Hubbard.
It is a vision articulated, in part, in the closing address by then LCWR President Franciscan Sister Pat Farrell to the sisters on the last night of the assembly. She said:
“Many institutions, traditions, and structures seem to be withering. Why? I believe the philosophical underpinnings of the way we’ve organized reality no longer hold. The human family is not served by individualism, patriarchy, a scarcity mentality, or competition. The world is outgrowing the dualistic constructs of superior/inferior, win/lose, good/bad, and domination/submission. Breaking through in their place are equality, communion, collaboration, synchronicity, expansiveness, abundance, wholeness, mutuality, intuitive knowing, and love. This shift, while painful, is good news! It heralds a hopeful future for our Church and our world. As a natural part of evolutionary advance, it in no way negates or undervalues what went before. Nor is there reason to be fearful of the cataclysmic movements of change swirling around us. We only need to recognize the movement, step into the flow, and be carried by it. Indeed, all creation is groaning in one great act of giving birth.”......
..... Our women religious, represented in the LCWR leadership, recognize more than most the dis-spirited nature of our times. Theirs is an alternative vision. It is a vision that proclaims that Christian communities are intrinsically hopeful, that they believe in the goodness of all people, and that these communities must never stop being living examples of the full embrace and acceptance, which Jesus taught.
Specifically, these women appear to have growing confidence that that the pastoral vision of church that grew out of the Second Vatican Council, a vision that moved them obediently to renew their congregational charters decades back, is, indeed, the church of the future, and that after 50 years this church, in part through them, is coming to fruition. It is a church containing the collective yearnings and aspirations of untold millions of lay Catholics throughout the world, laity these religious women among them.
I've done a lot of posts on this blog about the LCWR, about the failed leadership of the hierarchy, about the futility of the return to the past embodied in the 'reform of the reform', about the radical masculinism embodied in Catholic leadership, and about the shift in consciousness the world is currently undergoing. I have written all these words because they describe the 'knowledge' many contemplatives, psychics, and mystics are receiving all across the globe, and all across spiritual systems. The way humanity is beginning to see itself, the way cultures are organizing themselves, and even the way our technology is evolving, all point to exactly what Sr Pat Farrell describes:
"The world is outgrowing the dualistic constructs of superior/inferior, win/lose, good/bad, and domination/submission. Breaking through in their place are equality, communion, collaboration, synchronicity, expansiveness, abundance, wholeness, mutuality, intuitive knowing, and love."
The power structures of the old consciousness will not give up easily. They will fight tooth and nail to keep the status quo, to keep themselves in power, to control the present moment in order to preserve the future for their past. This is one explanation for the polarization with in the Church and with in the politics of the United States. We hear a great deal from our conservative religious leadership about traditional Catholicism with it's unchanging truth. We hear a great deal from our conservative politicians about returning the United States to it's divinely ordained founding principles, and both conservative groups have targeted women's reproductive issues and gays as their pivotal issues around which real Catholics and real Americans must rally both flag and cross.
This is symbolically seen at the K of C international conference which was attended by 12 Cardinals, 70+ bishops, and of course the ubiquitous Catholic republican operative Carl Anderson. The Kof C convention ran during the exact time frame as the LCWR convention. The LCWR had one bishop at their opening Mass and only their Vatican watchdog, Bishop Blair, in attendance at the conference. This discrepancy is really quite sad and quite pathetic.
In the meantime the ground swell of opposition to this old world view of reality is beginning to coalesce as the over ripe 'fruits' of this old energy continue to rot. The Arab spring and the Occupy movement are just the beginning. As world food shortages reach new levels this coming winter, the unrest will continue to escalate. The only answer the old energy will have is the only one they've ever had, military power and armed conquest---domination not dialogue.
In reading the comments on the NCR after numerous articles about the LCWR answer it struck me that some people didn't really get the gist of this message. The LCWR is letting the CDF know in gentle, if no uncertain terms, that they will only enter any dialogue as equals. No ring kissing, no bowing, no scraping, no unearned deference just because Sartain and company are men with white collars and purple piping. Those days are long gone for this group of women. That in itself is a major statement of their own changing world view as it concerns themselves, but there was also a second message. They will not compromise their integrity, and that means the world view in which it is based. These women are not interested in the 'reform of the reform' or returning to the guilt driven ever so transcendent church before Vatican II. They are committed to the Vatican II vision of the world, because that vision is the future. The boys may have run from their own vision for Catholicism, but the girls aren't and won't. That is the final and perhaps core message in the LCWR response.