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Switch to Forum Live View A radical obedience to the voice of God in our time
3 years ago  ::  Apr 23, 2012 - 12:07PM #1
WaveringCC
Posts: 5,136
Excellent commentary by Jamie Manson.

ncronline.org/blogs/grace-margins/lcwr-r...


In his Holy Thursday sermon, Pope Benedict XVI made headlines for criticizing [3] those who refuse to obey the church's position on the ordination of celibate men. He traced his argument back to Christ's obedience to the will of God.


"His concern was for true obedience," Benedict said, "as opposed to human caprice."


Of course, the pontiff fails to point out that Jesus was obeying God while also radically disobeying the religious leaders and laws of his time. Like so many archconservative Roman Catholics, he is confusing God with the institutional church and its doctrine.


...He views the sisters' unwillingness to condemn gays and lesbians or contraception or women who feel called ordained ministry as an act of "caprice."


But the basis on which the sisters focus their ministries is anything but shallow and whimsical. Their devotion is founded on a radical obedience to the voice of God as it emerges from the voices of the poor, the sick, the abandoned and the broken.


Most sisters spend their lives immersed in the deepest sufferings of our world. They don't just stop by the soup kitchen on Ash Wednesday for a photo op. Some actually live in shelters with homeless women, orphans or the addicted.


Their unwillingness to condemn gays and lesbians probably stems from the work they did with AIDS patients in the early 1980s. Back then, the disease affected mostly gay men, and no one was sure how it was contracted. Women religious were among one of the few groups who were unafraid to touch those dying from this unknown, frightening disease.


Is there any doubt that, as the sisters bathed and fed these deteriorating bodies, they also noticed the deep and authentic love that these men shared with partners and friends? The sisters also saw anguish suffered by men whose parents would not visit them and the sacramental power of those who reconciled with family before they died.


Any disagreements on contraception likely stem from the sisters' work with poor, homeless and battered women. They harbor girls enslaved in the sex trade, women trapped in abusive relationships and mothers abandoned to poverty.


Many sisters still run hospitals and are medical professionals. They have seen firsthand the price that so many women pay for husbands and boyfriends who refuse to wear condoms yet still demand sex. Every day, they see patients who have been date raped or women who bear life-threatening pregnancies.


Many sisters are theologians, ethicists, spiritual directors and teachers. They engage students and directees in their metaphysical and existential questions. They spend hours listening to stories and struggles and aid in discerning ethical dilemmas and spiritual crises. And though technically they cannot confer absolution, they have heard countless confessions.


Some women religious do support the ordination of women. They have dedicated their entire lives to being a sacrament in the world, yet they have been told that their bodies are not worthy of consecrating the Eucharist or giving last rites to an ailing patient whom they have shepherded through sickness unto death.


With such an intensely sacramental life, it should be no wonder that sisters have deep intellectual curiosity and spiritual longings. ....


Their ideas, interests and programs are not the product of an obstinate disobedience of power. Rather, their commitments come from a deep obedience to the God who appears in the faces of the powerless and the vulnerable. They see the crucified Christ in places most clergy and laypeople dare not go. They are not wayward, but wise enough not to place limits on how and where God works God's grace.


The sisters' experiences tell them that hiding behind the false fortress of religious laws simply does not do justice to a God who reaches out to us in ways that far exceed even the most active Catholic imagination. The sisters have learned well Jesus' criticism of the Pharisees who "disregard God's commandment but cling to human tradition."....


But the Vatican is telling these women, as it has told many groundbreaking theologians, ministers and saints before, that a prophet is not welcome in her own native place. They are commanding the sisters to shut down their minds and hearts even at the price of shutting out the very voice of God.


.... They must halt the practice of asking theological questions, they must stop reading the signs of the times and they must cease exploring the ways in which God's presence is unfolding in our present reality. Essentially, the hierarchy is reducing them to the equivalent of spiritual enslavement.


This latest development in the U.S. church poses a challenge not only for sisters, but for all Catholics who believe that the Catholic tradition is much richer and deeper than absolute subservience to manmade doctrines on issues related to the pelvic zone.


It is a moment that demands we read the writing on the wall: There is no safe place within the institutional church for intellectually based, pastorally grounded interpretation of or questioning of doctrine. There is no space in this institution for prophets to dwell.


With each new crackdown on a priest, nun or layperson of integrity, the institutional church seems to be begging a schism. Their goal is either to coerce or force out anyone who won't toe the line on marriage equality, contraception and women's ordination. Without absolute conformity on these issues, the bishops cannot make their far more profitable alliances with right-wing religious and political groups....


This attack on the sisters is an attack on everyone who believes in their ministries and who has benefited from their ministries. There has never been a more crucial moment for us to stand in solidarity. It is time particularly for men religious in this country to take a courageous stand. They, too, must use their privilege to speak out and risk their own well-being for the good of their sisters.....


Because to abandon them would be to abandon one of the last vestiges of the spirit of God at work in the church.

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3 years ago  ::  Apr 23, 2012 - 4:04PM #2
mokantx
Posts: 3,825

Wav


Thank you.  

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3 years ago  ::  Apr 24, 2012 - 8:52AM #3
TemplarS
Posts: 6,868

It is astounding to me that the Bishops et al continue to fight a battle (contraception) which has been lost for 40 years. 


Then again- could it be that they perceive a little window here? I have heard people recently comment that they had not thought any Christians but the RCC were so opposed to contraception.  But, it seems, this visceral opposition to Obama can generate allies in unexpected places.  Which is the heart of the problem.


Look: I do not expect nor even desire the Church to reverse itself on abortion; it is the way they have chosen to fight the battle (and with whom they are allied) which disturbs me.  On gay rights (which polls show most Americans favor, and will do so increasingly given the demographics of increasing support among the young), it is true the Church may have painted itself into a corner.  But here, when one thinks they ought to be looking for a graceful way out (as with contraception), they have instead chosen to politically ally themselves with some of the most unsavory interests to come down the pike in the US in a long time.  I am sure they are telling themselves that they are simply being courageous, as Jesus was; but they do not see the contradiction (as stated in the OP) that by these actions they are being  "courageous"  in alliance with the rich and powerful, which is exactly opposite of  the actions and spirit of Jesus.


The supreme irony of this is that, from polls I have seen, the actions and positions of the Bishops resonate far more with the sensibilities of the Protestant right than they do with Catholics.  Maybe this is the meaning of "new evangelization."

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3 years ago  ::  Apr 24, 2012 - 11:56AM #4
mokantx
Posts: 3,825

Apr 24, 2012 -- 8:52AM, TemplarS wrote:


It is astounding to me that the Bishops et al continue to fight a battle (contraception) which has been lost for 40 years. 


Then again- could it be that they perceive a little window here? I have heard people recently comment that they had not thought any Christians but the RCC were so opposed to contraception.  But, it seems, this visceral opposition to Obama can generate allies in unexpected places.  Which is the heart of the problem.


Look: I do not expect nor even desire the Church to reverse itself on abortion; it is the way they have chosen to fight the battle (and with whom they are allied) which disturbs me.  On gay rights (which polls show most Americans favor, and will do so increasingly given the demographics of increasing support among the young), it is true the Church may have painted itself into a corner.  But here, when one thinks they ought to be looking for a graceful way out (as with contraception), they have instead chosen to politically ally themselves with some of the most unsavory interests to come down the pike in the US in a long time.  I am sure they are telling themselves that they are simply being courageous, as Jesus was; but they do not see the contradiction (as stated in the OP) that by these actions they are being  "courageous"  in alliance with the rich and powerful, which is exactly opposite of  the actions and spirit of Jesus.


The supreme irony of this is that, from polls I have seen, the actions and positions of the Bishops resonate far more with the sensibilities of the Protestant right than they do with Catholics.  Maybe this is the meaning of "new evangelization."




Temp


Good points, and I agree (likely no big surprise there...)


One of the things that continues to perplex me is this growing gap between Catholics and their bishops. While there is no doubt that there are many Catholics who follow the bishops and their every whim, I think there is a growing body of Catholics who are tuning out, and while some of those stay, many also walk away.  The perplexing thing in all of this is the lack of action by the bishops.


What I mean by that is this: it seems to me that the growing gap cannot be a big surprise to the bishops.  They know what's going on.  So why are they not working to build bridges to cross that gap?  The kind of bridges I have in mind are not programs to bring people back to whatever the bishops may want, but bridges that would help the everyday Catholics and the bishops address the underlying issues.  We know, for example, the bishops believe they cannot ordain a woman as a priest.  Yet there has been precious little effort on the part of the bishops to explain why, other than "Jesus didn't, so we can't."  Using that logic, I assume that bishops don't drive cars, drink cognac, or use phones.  Clearly, there has to be more to this than just "Jesus didn't, so we can't," so why AREN'T they trying to explain that?  Same goes with almost every hot button issue in the church today.  The bishops won't budge, and that very position is driving people away.  And the thing is, there really IS a wisdom in the laity.  Bishops supports often want to create almost preposterous mental constructs to try to support the positions.  The idea, for example, that the use of ABC is all about hedonistic lifestyles, and thus, will cause marriage to fall apart, etc...  Yet I suspect that many who think the church is wrong, would be quick to agree that there's a difference between widespread use of abc "just because," and a judicious use within a sacramental marriage that would allow a couple to control their family size, so as to match it with their financial capabilities, etc.  The wisdom of the laity is not addressed by the bishops (nor their supporters), who continue to fight the fight that as you noted, was over a long time ago...  What a waste of energy, money, and credibility.  If they wanted credibility, I think they'd need to sit down and address the concerns of the laity.



Radical Obedience is a tall order.  It would be a LOT easier of a sell, if we saw those who were calling US to that obedience, to live lives that showed us how.  But I cannot imagine how refusal to adopt personal accountability, how refusal to listen, how playing the secular law to their benefit when they want, and lobbying for and hiding behind loopholes when the law isn't convenient... that kind of life is not one that suggests Radical Obedience is anything more than the latest effort to retain power, money and control, and that has very little to do with the Gospels.

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3 years ago  ::  Apr 24, 2012 - 12:03PM #5
newsjunkie
Posts: 5,748

Apr 24, 2012 -- 8:52AM, TemplarS wrote:


It is astounding to me that the Bishops et al continue to fight a battle (contraception) which has been lost for 40 years. 


Then again- could it be that they perceive a little window here? I have heard people recently comment that they had not thought any Christians but the RCC were so opposed to contraception.  But, it seems, this visceral opposition to Obama can generate allies in unexpected places.  Which is the heart of the problem.


Look: I do not expect nor even desire the Church to reverse itself on abortion; it is the way they have chosen to fight the battle (and with whom they are allied) which disturbs me.  On gay rights (which polls show most Americans favor, and will do so increasingly given the demographics of increasing support among the young), it is true the Church may have painted itself into a corner.  But here, when one thinks they ought to be looking for a graceful way out (as with contraception), they have instead chosen to politically ally themselves with some of the most unsavory interests to come down the pike in the US in a long time.  I am sure they are telling themselves that they are simply being courageous, as Jesus was; but they do not see the contradiction (as stated in the OP) that by these actions they are being  "courageous"  in alliance with the rich and powerful, which is exactly opposite of  the actions and spirit of Jesus.


The supreme irony of this is that, from polls I have seen, the actions and positions of the Bishops resonate far more with the sensibilities of the Protestant right than they do with Catholics.  Maybe this is the meaning of "new evangelization."




Well said!

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3 years ago  ::  Apr 24, 2012 - 12:34PM #6
TemplarS
Posts: 6,868

What is also interesting is that in what they say, on other issues, the Bishops are hardly right-wingers.  They have generally opposed the wars in the Middle East, they support programs to help the poor and needy, protect the environment, promote science, and so on. 


But there are no political teeth in these statements, as far as they are concerned.  They have clearly determined that to them (and this is where  very clearly they distinguish their position from that of many others in the Church) they would rather throw their lot in with the conservative Evangelicals for the sake of opposing things like gay marriage and contraception.   In this, there is no subtley in their position, as you remark, no interest in explaining themselves or entering into dialogue with those who feel differently.


For myself (and I imagine many others): I am personally opposed to abortion.  But I am not solely on that account (in contrast with the evident position of the Bishops) going to support a political view which promotes environmental depredation, glorifies corporate and individual  greed, encourages bigotry, marginalizes the disadvantaged, advocates dismantling of Medicare and Social Security, promotes scientific ignorance about climate change and evolution, and all the rest of the nonsense supported by the evangelical right. 

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3 years ago  ::  Apr 24, 2012 - 1:01PM #7
gilg
Posts: 5,200

Good points you all, so where do we sign up to show our support for the nuns and sisters?


 

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3 years ago  ::  Apr 24, 2012 - 10:04PM #8
jane2
Posts: 14,295

Apr 24, 2012 -- 12:34PM, TemplarS wrote:


What is also interesting is that in what they say, on other issues, the Bishops are hardly right-wingers.  They have generally opposed the wars in the Middle East, they support programs to help the poor and needy, protect the environment, promote science, and so on. 


But there are no political teeth in these statements, as far as they are concerned.  They have clearly determined that to them (and this is where  very clearly they distinguish their position from that of many others in the Church) they would rather throw their lot in with the conservative Evangelicals for the sake of opposing things like gay marriage and contraception.   In this, there is no subtley in their position, as you remark, no interest in explaining themselves or entering into dialogue with those who feel differently.


For myself (and I imagine many others): I am personally opposed to abortion.  But I am not solely on that account (in contrast with the evident position of the Bishops) going to support a political view which promotes environmental depredation, glorifies corporate and individual  greed, encourages bigotry, marginalizes the disadvantaged, advocates dismantling of Medicare and Social Security, promotes scientific ignorance about climate change and evolution, and all the rest of the nonsense supported by the evangelical right. 




More than a little wisdom here, Templar.


I do think there is a major problem, though, with the selection of who will be bishop for the last 30 years. The current crowd kowtows to Rome and the selection process has made this so.


I'm not for abortion but I do not wish to impose my thinking on others who disagree. The evangelical right is anachronistic. Something I have found fascinating is right-wingers who do not want the GOV interfereing with their Social Security or Medicare.


J.




 

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3 years ago  ::  Apr 25, 2012 - 10:11AM #9
jlb32168
Posts: 13,403

“Their devotion is founded on a radical obedience to the voice of God as it emerges from the voices of the poor, the sick, the abandoned and the broken.  Most sisters spend their lives immersed in the deepest sufferings of our world.”


It seems that there are also women religious who kowtow to Rome, while also claiming that their obedience to the voice of God emerges from the voices of the poor, the sick, the abandoned and the broken.


The two groups can’t both be correct.

Victim of this, victim of that, your mama’s too thin and your daddy’s too fat, get over it! - the Eagles
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3 years ago  ::  Apr 25, 2012 - 11:06AM #10
hewy1952
Posts: 2,454

Apr 25, 2012 -- 10:11AM, jlb32168 wrote:


“Their devotion is founded on a radical obedience to the voice of God as it emerges from the voices of the poor, the sick, the abandoned and the broken.  Most sisters spend their lives immersed in the deepest sufferings of our world.”


It seems that there are also women religious who kowtow to Rome, while also claiming that their obedience to the voice of God emerges from the voices of the poor, the sick, the abandoned and the broken.


The two groups can’t both be correct.





Very true--neither can the Orthodox and Roman Catholics both be correct.

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