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Reasons to be hopeful about the LCWR and the CDF

Writing for the National Catholic Reporter, Robert Mickens takes up the case of Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and protege of the pope emeritus. Why, some have asked, has Francis left Benedict's man in charge of the CDF, when Muller's priorities seem so out of line with Francis's own?

As Mickens sees it, getting rid of Müller just a year into his appointment to the post "would have been seen as a serious criticism of the retired pope's judgment and wisdom." (Even the pope has to worry about being Fr. Bulldozer.) Of course, It may also be that Francis sees reasons to trust Müller in the job. But Mickens thinks it may not matter so much, because the CDF itself is becoming less powerful as Francis reshapes the curia and grants more power to the Synod of Bishops.

My column in the latest issue takes up Müller's remarks to the leaders of the LCWR (which Grant blogged about here).

His unquestioning acceptance of the USCCB's criticism of Elizabeth Johnson's Quest for the Living God was frustrating -- although it's not completely unreasonable for him to expect the U.S. bishops' committee on doctrine to do respectable work. What bothers me more is his insistence that, in light of that criticism, the LCWR's decision to honor Johnson could only be viewed as "a rather open provocation against the Holy See and the Doctrinal Assessment." And, he says, the fact that the sisters decided to honor someone the bishops had criticized just proves that the sisters need to get approval from the bishops (specifically, from Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, their CDF-appointed overseer) before they decide to honor anyone else. "Had [Sartain] been involved in the conversation as the Mandate envisions, I am confident that he would have added an important element to the discernment which then may have gone in a different direction."

The fact that Müller could not even imagine another way to look at the situation suggests just how difficult it will be for the sisters and the bishops to move forward together. He ended his remarks to the LCWR leaders by saying, "at this phase of the implementation of the Doctrinal Assessment, we are looking for a clearer expression of that ecclesial vision and more substantive signs of collaboration." But that collaboration always seems to require a lot more effort on one side than the other -- he told the sisters that the decision to honor Johnson "further alienates the LCWR from the Bishops," as though the fault for that alienation were entirely on their side.

Thus it's hard to be hopeful about the progress of this "collaboration," as I said in my column. But one reason I am is that the LCWR keeps sounding optimistic. "The actual interaction with Cardinal Müller and his staff was an experience of dialogue that was respectful and engaging," they said in a public statement after their April 30 meeting. In a longer statement to their members (quoted in Origins), the LCWR officials said, "in the honest, respectful, and engaging discussion that followed Cardinal Müller's opening remarks, we were able to offer responses that illuminated some of the perceptions about LCWR held by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith."

That's good news. If the CDF is operating on the assumption that everything coming out of the USCCB's doctrinal office is trustworthy, they need someone to tell them otherwise. And if the sisters are going to examine their organization through Rome's eyes, it will be important to clear up whatever is preventing Rome from seeing them clearly. Archbishop Sartain may indeed help the LCWR in their discernment processes going forward. But discernment is not the sole province of the ordained, and the CDF can certainly benefit from the sisters' help, too.

About the Author

Mollie Wilson O'Reilly is an editor at large and columnist at Commonweal.



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As an aside, it is good to see that NCR is taking advantage of Mickens' leaving The Tablet and is using him as (at least) a Rome stringer.  I have always felt that Robert is as plugged in to what is going on at the Vatican as John Allen has ever been.

OK ... now start on the subject at hand.

This dialogue has been going on for a long time. I have never heard or seen what the differences are although, like most, I think I know. But now I propose that the readers of Commonweal focus their thoughts on just that. How do we make this a public discussion. What leverage can be applied.?




The Bishops of the Church are by no means beyond reproach, but what I am finding is that articles like these that are critical of the Bishops fail to mention that the Bishops are at odds not with nuns as a whole, but progressive religious who are publicly and privately opposed to Catholic faith and morals. This criticism doesn't depend upon devaluing the historical contribution of women religious - the great things that faithful Catholic religious have done in this country and elsewhere are honorable and praiseworthy. The CDF criticism directed at the LCWR is the criticism of all who share in full unity with the Catholic Church in faith and morals: many religious women and men are woefully ignorant of their place in the history of ideas and are seduced by many forms of pernicious secularism.  It is a failure that ultimately should be placed with the Bishops, who are entrusted with the task of teaching.  It is the Bishops who failed women religious, and the entire Catholic Church, by abandoning the role as teachers for 4 decades - leaving the liberating task of education and formation to those who see religion as a neurosis or pathology at worse, a helpful form of wish fulfillment at best. There are many, many, faithful women religious in this country, however, there are a whole host of them that are simply off the rails and leading people away from Christ and the Church. The LCWR is the representative of this group and the NCR and Commonweal are their mouth pieces. The criticism of the Bishops is not a bunch of men trying to be meanies but it comes from the successors of the apostles who are entrusted with fostering and preserving the communion of the Church. The pastoral task of the shepherd is to bring us sheep, yes, the women religious are sheep like the rest of us, into communion with Christ through the sacrament of salvation, the Church. If this communion isn't there, how is it that these religious can with integrity claim to act in the name of Christ and his body, the Church? The Bishops care for the Church, sure, they may lack tact, and they must bear responsibility for their failure in teaching, but the women religious that are under criticism have philosophical, as well as social and political agendas that undermine the Gospel as such.  Any good work that the Church does comes forth from communion. It doesn't need mentioned that fidelity, closeness to Christ, bears fruit in vocations, and progressive women's religious orders are dying, and will continue to die, unless they deepen their communion. Faithful women's religious orders are thriving, they are the future of the Church.

When I said above that women religious are sheep like the rest of us, I mean that in the metaphorical sense, that is, they are part of the great flock of Christ, not that they are sheep in the sense of being unwise, or uninspired.  I wanted to make that clear so it didn't seem like an insult.

Look, as nice and promising as Francis is, he is as hopelessly enmeshed in the sexism and sexist "taken for granteds" of the hierarchy as most bishops. Of course he is not at odds with all women religious, only with the ones who have raised serious, sustained and highly intelligent challenges to the institutional view of women's status in the church. Nothing new there...and how very disappointing! Until women are equal players, with equal shared authority and a REAL place at the table, the discussions and inquisitions will resolve nothing and the big bleeding wound at the heart of the church---and in the hearts of many women and men in the church---will be left to fester, raw and so very painful. As long as "women" remain a "topic" for sexist popes, prelates, priests and others to define, contain, demonize or extol into irrelevance, nothing will change. The institution has yet to offer any sustainable defense---theological, anthropological, biblical, political--- of what appears to many sensible believers as rank discrimination...wonder what the response would have been if JPii had written "On the Dignity and Vocation of African Americans..." or some such. And when you hear of the astonishing violence and persecution of women and girls simply because they ARE women and girls, remember that our church offers a simple and deceptively benign version of the same...

I agree with Janet.  I doubt the pope will take the side of the nuns over the CDF - his attitude towards women is really pretty depressing.  And I think he agrees with Muller on a number of issues, including marriage.   In his Monday homliy  he said that  ...  "there are all kinds of things that Jesus doesn't like ... such as married couples that don't want children .." Yikes.

Great one, Janet.

Crystal, I guess we will have to see how this plays out. Francis is far from being anti-woman. As far as "married couples who don't want children" Francis is not talking about not wanting because of health of financial conditions. It certainly is important to have children in genorosity of spirit. Of course, some people want children as slaves or symbiotic reasons which are wrong also. 

Remember, Francis maid an important observation about the ordination of women, saying that that can be clericalism. Meaning the quest for power rathe than service. Further Francis has also said that the laity are just as important as the clergy. Maybe some popes have said it. But they have not given it the priority that Francis has. 

Hi Bill,

It's hard for me to take what Francis said about clericism and about the worth of the layity seriously ... he and the others like him who don't want women to be priests are themselves priests and part of the system that created clericism.  I doubt there are any more women who want to become priests out of a hunger for power than there are men who wat to.  Women want to be priests for the same reason anyone does - because they feel they are called by God, because they've discerned a vocation.  I won't go over all the arguments for why there's nothing wrong with women being priests, but suffice to say, they're compelling enough that I doubt anyone, including Francis, could be against women' ordination for any reason other than sexism.

Janet and Crystal, thank you. 

Bill, Pope Francis is most likely not consciously anti-woman. But he actually is anti-woman. This is not surprising since he is typical of men of his generation who have been formed by the male, celibate patriarchal cultures of the church, of Latin America and even of his Italian heritage.  Latin America has clearly changed - witness the number of women presidents and prime ministers in those countries. I really don't know how patriarchal male Italians are these days, so won't comment there. But very clearly, the Catholic church is the largest and most visible (outside of parts of Islam) patriarchal culture existing in the world today. It is truly a scandal.

The argument that ordaining women is "clericalism" is so ridiculous, that it's hard to believe that Francis would have made such a silly comment.  If ordaining men is not automatically "clericalism", then ordaining women would not be either.  The women who are called to the priesthood are called for the same reasons men are called - generally they seek to serve the church and God.  There are some men who seek the priesthood because they seek power, and very likely, once women can be ordained, there may be some who also seek power. But the desire for power over service is no more common among women who are called to be priests than among men who seek the priesthood..

This anti-woman stance of the church and of most wearing roman collars is obvious to most Catholics, but  obviously not to those on the "inside",, who are the power structure, such as Pope Francis and most other clerics at all levels of the church.  There are some priests and some in the hierarchy who do see through the church's attempts to define women as "separate but equal". They see this as being just as false as was the same doctrine held by the government in the US 50 years ago when it was also used to define (and limit) the "proper" roles, jobs, schools, restaurants, bus seats, drinking fountains etc for African Americans. But priests and bishops who dare to speak out on this issue know that they are courting serious trouble.  Bishop Morris of Australia was forced to resign (even though no bishops who enabled the sexual abuse of children have been forced to resign), and at least one priest has been excommunicated over the women's ordination question.

As far as marriage goes, there is no decision more important to any married couple than the choice to have children. It should not be done because anyone but themselves - parents, grandparents, friends and the church - expects them to have children.  They must seriously look inward and ask themselves if they really think that they have the personal qualities needed to be good parents.  Many fine people are not well equipped and do not have personalities that would make them good parents. The church should actively encourage couples to undertake a self-examination on this subject and should definitely back off from demanding that every couple who marries in the church be "open" to having children.  There are many reasons besides physical health or poverty why some people should not become parents.  This has nothing to do with "generosity of spirit".  There a way too many neglected and abused children. Not everyone should become parents and they should not be pushed into parenthood by outsiders.


Bill...I don't have the exact quote but Francis has also suggested that feminism is a form of "machismo," and I see that type of equation as just another version of the "b#%ch" card: stay in your place, girl, if you don't want to be viewed/pegged as a you-know-what. Right. Same old, same old. That ordained women might behave clericalistically (made that one up!) is irrelevant. Has a man seeking ordination ever been barred for fear that he might become clericalist??? I think not. Like so many of his brothers (and those sisters who have internalized the sexist creed), Francis offers a silly, unreasonable reason. As for the old "power vs. service" card: do we typically say to a man seeking ordination that he is simply seeking "power"? No, we throw a party. But a woman who desires ordination---watch out! And out comes the "b#%ch" card.

When the men who run the church (and do so quite badly) can answer in a cohesive way the question why women cannot be ordained (not "should not" be ordained)---that is, why the human being of women, whom the church teaches are created in the image of God equally with men and fully redeemed by the Christ equally with men, is an obstacle to grace and gifts and the call to SERVICE---in a way that is well-reasoned, profoundly reasonable and rigorously honest about the mysogynistic elements of what has passed as "Catholic tradition," then I might be satisfied that the church is right about this. But I am prepared to remain dissatisfied (and a b#%ch, too, of course, for even asking the question), for I don't think any such answer exists.

I doubt anyone, including Francis, could be against women' ordination for any reason other than sexism.

Sorry, Crystal, but I think you are giving the bishops too little credit for self-stifling pussyfootery. Sexism is probably the biggest part of it, but we mustn't completely ignore statusquoism, we'veneverdonethatism, Ican'tcontradictmypredecessorsism, and a lot of other scaredy-catisms that would leave Christ simultaneously doubled over with laughter and shaking his head in dismay if he heard them. Which he probably does.

John Prior: love it!!

Anne Chapman: excellent!
Thanks , Crystal and Gerelyn.
I think the situation is fairly hopeless.
Whoever said it was right: either ordain women or stop baptizing them. At least then we would stop lying to ourselves and to each other. Wonder what Francis thinks about the fact the overwhelming majority of the world's poorest people are women and their dependent children? Does he make any connection at all?

Oops...forgot to mention in the interest of full disclosure that I, to my shame, had fully internalized the sexism of the church. I am grateful to have been freed but so ashamed that I ever bought into it. Getting freed was like having meat hooks ripped out of your heart. But I wouldn't turn back for a second, even if I have to live on the margins of a church that is supposed to be my "home." Thanks.

"This is not surprising since he is typical of men of his generation who have been formed by the male, celibate patriarchal cultures of the church, of Latin America and even of his Italian heritage."

Well I'll be. Talk about repeating stereotypes  without any personal experience. So much for dialogue. Shame on you Anne

I am annoyed that Crystal, Janet and Anne immediately go into diatribes without attempting to understand what clericalism is. Of course the clergy is guilty of clericalism. That does not mean that certain women are not. We are living in an age where the "glory" of the clergy is seen as outdated and silly. We should stop calling priests Father and Bishops Excellency etc.Clericalism is that system which puts the clergy on a pedestal. It is fine for women to become priests. But the issue is that we should learn how to wash each other's feet rather than to seek to perpetuate idolatry of the clergy.

We have to make sure that women have access to all the power centers of the church. But we should not in the process lose sight that the clergy has been overrated, overfeted, overpampered and outrageous. Reform is in the priesthood of all the faithful. Not to seek entry into pageantry and narcissism. 

Bill, you may indeed be right " that the clergy has been overrated, overfeted, overpampered and outrageous."  And you are right that women should have "access to all the power centers of the church". 

However, in the real world of the real Roman Catholic church, that "access to power" is the exclusive province of ordained clergy.  So, unless the church decides to eliminate the ordained clergy all together, access to Holy Orders must be open to both men and women.

I cannot begin to understand why you believe my statement about the patriarchal nature of the cultures that formed Pope Francis are "only" stereotype and do  not reflect "personal" experience.  My views most definitely reflect personal experience, along with a great deal of study. 

In the United States, every woman  has pesonally experienced sexism, both overt and subtle. Some women (especially older women and I am among those) may not even have realized how sexist so much of the culture was when they were young - it was all they knew. Every good Catholic girl was expected to grow up and choose - be a nun or be a mommy.  Little boys were told that they could be a priest (the boss of the nuns who taught the kids), or a daddy AND something else - a doctor, a fireman, a basketball star. There were no "ands" for the little girls. Our roles had been defined for us -defined by men.  This is still the operating mindset of the Pope and the hierarchy of the chruch. It is easily discerned in John Paul II's and Benedict's work - historic patriarchy affirmed, but couched in updated flowery Vaticanese.

Every Roman Catholic woman has experienced the effects of sexism and patriarchy in the church, itself up to the present day.  Some have bought into it, the clever term "authentic" Catholic "feminism".  It's just plain, old-fashioned patriarchy.

The truth may upset you, but one hopes that you might at some point try to imagine walking a mile or two in the shoes of a woman in the church. You might want to study some history while you are at it - the history of how women were treated legally in the US, in Latin America, in Europe until relatively modern times.  It has been less than 100 years since women obtained the right to vote in this country. In some countries of Europe it has been less than 50 years. In some parts of the world women do not have basic civil and human rights even today.

The Roman Catholic church is the most visible religious institution on the planet. The way it treats women is an example to all.  Unfortunately, the example it gives to the whole world is of one of perpetuating male power and patriarchy. 

Perhaps the ordained priesthood should be abolished completely as you suggest. But that is not likely to happen so instead it would be better to keep it, but to have it reflect the makeup of the entire church, which is the makeup of the entire human race. The ordained priesthood should be opened to men and women, married and single.  Lay people have no power in this church - lay people do not define the doctrines of the church, nor do they define the policies and goverance that impact every single Catholic. Ideally, this would also change and laity would be included among those who define doctrine and participate actively in the governance in the church. 

The combination of teachings, policy and church governance paved the way for the tragedy of thousands of kids being sexually abused by priests who were, in turn, protected by bishops, enlarging the scope of this pattern of criminal behavior and cover-up tremendously.  The pattern and the problem are both pretty obvious to those who do not choose to remain blind. Bishop Geoffrey Robinson (Australia) goes into this in some depth in his first book.

Eliminating the priesthood is not a realistic solution. Opening the priesthood to women as well as men, to non-celibates as well as celibates will go a long way towards correcting the weaknesses of the rotten foundation the church rests on.  Eventually, this may open up the "power centres" to the laity as well. One can pray.

Given the state of the Catholic clerical culture these days, I have a hard time wondering just why any women would even want to be a part of that all-male feudal hegemony over the rest of the church?

If women are simply seeking admittance to the "power centres" of the church, something tells me - human nature being what it is - women will only succeed in being absorbed into the clerical morass.

The church right now needs much more pastoral leadership than that from women if we are to even survive to the end of this century.   The words of my sainted sixth-grade teacher, Sister Mary Adelaide, after our daily reading from the newly published documents of Vatican2 echo strongly for me today:  "Never confuse the Church for the Christ."

I have to believe that the LCWR's stances on issues in part reflects a recognition of the sad, sorry state of the clerics in these early years of the 21st century.  It would certainly explain why the hierarchs are so fearful of the critique of these courageous religious women beyond the typical narcissistic injury clerics loudly protest whenever women speak truth to power.

If Catholics have learned anything from the last four decades of betrayal and complicity in scandal by the hierarchs it is that the priesthood must be completely reformed and renewed from parish to pope.  No half measures.  No tweeking around the edges.  Catholic must complete revolutionize the way we do priesthood - Or, we will go the way of the dinosaurs.  The judgements of evolution are brutal and final: adaption or extinction.

The first thing Catholics need to do is stop looking to the present bunch of discredited hierarchs - including the humble Papa Francesco -  to make the change.  Not going to happen.  The hierarchy in particular are a spent force.  If we are to merely survive, Catholics must take matters into their own hands.

Personally, I don't believe Catholics should just start allowing women to breach the "ole boy's club."  We should apply democratic principles to the way we organize the church.  [I think in clerical-speak they would call that radical subsidiarity.]

Each community of believers should determine and CALL who is to be their priest, their deacons, their bishop, their confessors, their baptizers, their homilists, their celebrants of the Eucharists, and on, and on.  

This decision should not be left to distant feudal oligarchs to make, but should again be located - as it was in the primitive church - within the community of believers.  

If that decision is again located within the local community, I have no doubt that soon the Holy Spirit will make known to each community of believers just who are the women and men, gays and lesbians, married and celibates who should exercise the various ministries of the church.


Pope Francis has spoken out in favor of encounter.

Cardinal Gerhard Mueller's recent otburst about the LCWR is not inconstent with the spirit of encounter. At lest he s beng candid and getting stuff off hs chest.

Granted, his recent ouburst about the LCWR is not the optimal way to cultvate the spirit of encounter -- to put it mildly.

Under the circumstances, it is important for the LCWR not to be overwhelmed by his outburst.

After all, there are ways in which the LCWR could respond to his points in a cool, calm, and collected manner.


The congregations of women religious in general and the LCWR in particular have shown us exactly what "cool, calm, and collected" mean.

They don't need advice about "ways in which" they "could respond" to yet another Eminence "getting stuff off his chest."

Expecting abuse victims to keep taking it and to share/assume responsibility for it?  

Interesting (imho) article in the NYT this morning about "Retro Rap That Puts Women Down."

I don't think women's ordination will solve the church's many problems.  What I'm asking for is that both men and women in the church be treated the same, that they all be treated as "people" istead of treating them almost as if they were of two different species (JPII's complementarianism).  I'd be just as happy if we got rid of the priesthood altogether and worshipped as the Quakers do, as long as all the baptized were treated equally. 

Anne, Basically we agree. I saw no need for the "Italian" part. There are many Italian men (in addittion to youknowwho) who are in the forefront of equal rights and treatment for women. The Sopranos are a tiny minority.

I think we have to include in discussions like this the real atrocities going on in the world stage. Especially in so called developed nations like India and Pakistan. Their local envoys should be replete with protests until they insist that their countries act civilized toward women. We do not permit in this country any cruelty in the name of religion and culture. Nor should we with our allies. The Boko-Haram incident got Congress involved which is fantastic. That involvement should be continuous. By us and by congress.

BTW, is it my imagination or what----that the magazine and the blog of Commonweal is totally silent about Maya Angelou?

Crystal, I'm with you.  ;)

Bill, when I referred to Italian culture being patriarchal, I was referring to the culture of the Pope's parents. He is almost 80 years old. I have a couple of friends (female) who are now 60ish who are of Italian heritage. Their families were very traditional, and one had to break with her family to accept a college scholarship that was at a school too far away to live at home. Her father was furious and wanted her to stay home. These two good friends were raised by parents (especially fathers) who had very traditional ideas about women's roles in life. I meant no offense to you, nor to Italian or Italian American men of later generations who may be more "enlightened".


Bill, the religion newsletter from Pew reports that 40% of Pakistanis believe that honor killings of women are "sometimes or always" justified in cases of extra-marital sex. However, 57% say that in cases where men have transgressed the same laws, killing is "almost never" justified.

Honor killings claim the lives of more than 1,000 Pakistani women every year, according to a Washington Post story citing a Pakistani organization that advocates against honor killings.

Janet, you are not alone.  I too did not question the sexism of the church for many years. I encountered sexism soon after graduating from college, in job intereviews and in the workplace.  I I worked in a male-dominated field and naively assumed that I would be paid the same as men with the same education (graduate degree) and experience - I learned that I wasn't even though having higher peformance appraisals than most of my male colleagues.  However, my generation did not remain passive as the men would have preferred. Our daughters have reaped the rewards, but few even realize it. They take it for granted,  and nobody in the private or government sectors would dare say that discrimination against women is justified, even if some secretly believe it.   It is some in organized religion - especially the Catholic church -  that continue to treat women as second-class officially and openly.

But even while awakening to sexism in the workplace, I did not question the sexism of the church for many years. I do a lot of research, both professionally and to answer my own questions.  Although I never accepted the church's teachings on birth control (to me, the teaching was so obviously absurd it didn't warrant any angst at all), at some point something pushed me to seriously research the teaching, going all the way back to its roots. I was in my 50s by then.  Frankly I was shocked.  I didn't go to church for a year because I literally felt that I had been kicked in the stomach by what I learned. I had never realized how  much the church's teachings on birth control, sexuality in general, marriage, and gender (and governance) were rooted in teachings that were not just patriarchal but, at times, seriously  misognyist.  I realized that these foundations were based in the overall ignorance of the eras in which the men who created them lived (Paul, early church fathers such as Jerome, Augustine, Aquinas etc) . So I could "absolve" them because their writings and beliefs (the foundations of current church teaching) were the product of their times and they did not have enough vision to escape the cultural influences of their own societies and time in history.

It is much harder to absolve the men who run the church and define the teachings today. They have the benefit of hundreds of years of advances in knowledge (scientific, pysychological, historical, biblical scholarship, etc) that they are choosing to ignore. That shifts their continued support for these patriarchal and even misognyist teachings from one of the ignorance of their predecessors to another plane.  Some might say their stubborn refusal to change some teachings is a corporate sin, rooted in the capital sin of pride. I do not think that most men in the church are guilty of this - they also don't really study the issue, think about it, or otherwise reflect in a deeply conscious way about these teachings. Most parish priests could recite the teachings and make the official case for them, but few have ever really reflected on the origins and the implications. They are ignorant and not really aware of the harm they perpetuate through their continuance of patriarchy. I put Francis in that category.

Janet, I am still a Catholic in my heart, but the combination of the cover-up of the sexual abuse of kids, the resulting enabling of continued sexual abuse of kids, and the denial of equal status to women in the church finally bothered my conscience enough that I now spend most Sundays in an Episcopal church, even though I have not formally converted and most likely never will. I would like to be able to return to full participation in the Catholic church someday, but doubt I will ever be able to and still live with my conscience.  If my heart was no longer Catholic, I wouldn't be reading and posting on this site!  But I am still an "alienated" Catholic. The main reason I support women's ordination is because I think having women at all levels of church governance would help change the church, and eventually it would change some of the doctrines that need to change, without the subterfuge of "development" because the church "never" changes doctrine. . However, if ordination is limited to celibate females, it would have less of a positive impact., so dropping mandatory celibacy would be a good move. If it comes first for men, that would be some progress at least.

I am intrigued by some of the suggestions here, notably by Bill M and Crystal. That would be true ressourcement - returning the church to its early roots, before the formal priesthood and hierarchy existed.

I have great respect for the brilliance of many in the RCC, of their good will, of the amazing work that is done by Catholics and Catholic organizations all over the world. I contribute directly to those organizations  (Catholic Relief Services, Catholic higher education at selected schools - for scholarships, since I benefitted from a full academic scholarship - and some smaller groups whose work I know well. Both my undergrad and grad schools were Jesuit and I can support them in good conscience still, even though a lot of Jesuits are pretty patriarchal in their views also).  I came to believe that supporting the hierarchy of the church was for me, at some level, a form of "cooperation with evil". 

1. I am all for abolishing the priesthood as we know it.
2. I totally get why the push for women's ordination looks like just another form of clericalism.
3. I am not sure any of my comments here constitute a "diatribe."
4. My concerns about the sexism of denying ordination to women follow from the church's own teaching on creation, redemption, grace and the sacraments. They are not really utilitarian, sociological or political. But I am challenged in my belief that the church is really of God when I see that women are really not allowed to be fully integrated into the church's life...I know the hierarchs want to sacralize the sin and say it's the will of God and the way of Christ, but to me it looks simply like one more reason to doubt that the church is nothing but a merely human set-up, drunk on its own pretence and pride. Now here I mean the visible, institutional RC church, not the invisible church of disciples who strive to follow Jesus. Still, it makes belonging very hard to justify.
5. More in topic: maybe the next time the CDF boys feel the zeal to punish someone for "affronting the holy see" for honoring someone "the holy see" doesn't like, those same boys might want to reflect on jpii's habit of lavishing honor on the likes of Maciel or Escriva, to name a few. Talk about an truth, to decency, to human dignity, to God!

Dear Anne,

Only now did I notice that you are adressing me directly, in part, in your last, excellent post. Thank you for all that you say. I am not always able to read, reflect and respond to posts as carefully as I would like to but i did read yours just now, and it really comforts me. I am in the throes of a real crisis of belonging to RC right now. I have not been to Mass since Easter and, while I am experiencing that as a certain freedom and relief that I think is from God, I remain, like you, a "Catholic in my heart," and so feel quite alone and bereft. So hearing about your journey is a real consolation. I haven't yet started to go to another church nut that is on the horizon for me, when I am ready. So thank you for your smart, thoughtful comments and for sharing a bit of your personal story.

What ae  the issues being discussed between the LWCR and the Bishops ?

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