Posted in Authentic Freedom, Authentic Freedom Academy, church, Spiritual Formation, women

Pope Francis’ “No” to Women’s Ordination – Another Nail in the Coffin

When Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected pope and took the name of Francis on March, 13, 2013, I held out little hope for any significant doctrinal change, even saying so publicly. Over the course of his reign, I have been alternatively hopeful and dismayed by his actions. In particular, I have found myself frustrated by his attitudes and actions towards women, especially as it relates to the possibility of equal roles for women in a male-dominated (some would say “male only”) institution. Yesterday, his actions inspired not only frustration but outright rage when he affirmed the stance taken by Pope John Paul II, that women would NEVER be ordained in the Catholic Church. (Read original article in the National Catholic Reporter HERE.)

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My question for Pope Francis echoes that taken by the Swedish journalist who reported on the matter: “But really forever? Never!?”

Never is a long time and quite a claim to be made by an institution in which “forever” has indeed been rare. In matters of practice for example:

  • Priests were not always celibate.
  • The Holy Days of Obligation have continually changed and now, if they fall on a Monday they are skipped.
  • It used to be you could not eat meat on any Friday, then it changed to only those during Lent, and now, if a Friday in Lent falls on St. Patrick’s Day, consuming corned beef is allowed.
  • Women used to have to cover their head during mass, communion was only taken in the mouth, not by hand, and wine was only offered to the priests.
  • In previous years, only priests could read the scripture or distribute communion.

Even in matters of doctrine, there has rarely been a forever:

  • Jesus was not always the only Son of God.
  • Mary was not always a virgin and her virginity was not always considered perpetual, she was not always immaculately conceived, and she was not believed to have assumed into heaven after her death.
  • Jesus, at one time, was begotten and made.
  • There was once debate about whether Jesus was fully human, fully divine, neither or both.
  • Matrimony, Reconciliation, and Anointing of the Sick were not always considered sacraments.
  • There used to be a purgatory, now there’s not.
  • There used to be a hell, but then Pope John Paul II said if there is one, he couldn’t image anyone is there.

My question to Pope Francis is, “Really, never?” Why, when seemingly every other matter of doctrine has at one time been up for grabs, is the question of women’s ordination not at least a possibility? How, after all we now know about Jesus’ treatment of women, the critical role of women in the Jesus movement and their roles as leaders in the in the early Church, is the ordination of women at least not considered?

When pressed in a similar manner by the Swedish press on this question of the Church never considering women’s ordination Francis replied, “If we read carefully the declaration made by St. John Paul II (in his 1994 apostolic letter, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.), it goes in that direction.”

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I am enormously disappointed in the pope for this evasive, and dare I say “political” response. Instead of taking responsibility for his own position on the matter, he passes the buck, continuing to paint himself as the “good” pope, friend to the gays and advocate of the poor.  I call foul!  In forever barring women from ordination, Pope Francis has turned his back on over half of the human race.  In this, Pope Francis is no longer the “good pope,” he is the personal representative of the cause of sexism in the Western world – the Catholic Church.  Two-thousand years ago, when the Church privileged Peter over Mary Magdalene, ignored Jesus’ equal treatment of women in favor of the hierarchical cultural norm, and then made women the cause of original sin, sexism became the law of Western Culture – a law created by and then enforced through practice by the Church.  With Pope Francis’ affirmation of Pope John Paul II’s ban on women’s ordination, nothing it seems has changed, and nothing ever will.

It’s almost understandable that a man of power would refuse women the right to equal power. This is a typical human response to insecurity and fear.  But, in banning women from ordination, Pope Francis is not exercising his human right to indulge his fear, instead, he has appointed himself God. If the Church believes that the call to ordained priesthood is indeed ordained by God, then who are they to bar a woman who is authentically called to this vocation?  How will the Church ever know if they are not even willing to consider women’s ordination as a possibility and discern for themselves the will of the God they claim to represent?  Again, I call foul!

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While I am disgusted and angered by Pope Francis’ ban on women’s ordination, more than this I am sad. I grieve over a Church that continues to reject the amazing gifts that women might bring to fulfilling Jesus’ mission of love. I weep over the women who are authentically called to the ordained priesthood who are forced to seek elsewhere for a place to share their gifts or suffer the consequences of silencing their gifts and their call.  Even more than this I am saddened by a Church that continues to denigrate half of the human race and who by their own example, are making it ok for the rest of the world to forever reject women as unequal to men.

Just when I thought I might go back and give the Church another chance, Pope Francis shows up with his NO to women’s ordination. This just might be the final nail in the coffin.

 

lauridinas-wedding-2Lauri Ann Lumby, OM, MATS was raised in the Catholic Church, received her call to ministry within the Catholic Church, was educated and trained in the Catholic Church and served as Pastoral Minister and Spiritual Director at the local Catholic Campus Ministry. Called to the priesthood, but not to hierarchy or the culture of clericalism, Lauri sought ordination elsewhere and now serves as spiritual leader of Authentic Freedom Academy and the Temple of the Magdalene where she provides spiritual formation, education, guidance, counsel and support to a mostly Catholic audience of women and men from all over the world in search of a different kind of “church.”  You can learn more about Lauri’s ministry at www.authenticfreedomacademy.com.

 

Posted in church, Discernment, Empowerment, Freedom, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Raised Catholic, world changes

Priest in a Post-Modern World

Yesterday, I began the discussion on charisms by asking the question, “What is your magic?”  In the next several posts, we will be exploring spiritual gifts (as they are defined by the Catholic faith in which I was raised), ultimately with the hope of giving you some tools to assist you in your own discernment.  What is your magic?  Today, I am going to press pause on that exploration to share a bit about my own discernment around this question and the answer that keeps showing up – and one I most often believe I can do nothing about.  With the assistance of today’s blog, I hope to change that!

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So…here it is.  I am called to be a priest and have been given every charism to fulfill this vocation.  I am a fantastic presider (I just officiated my brother’s wedding and was confirmed in this gift).  It has been reflected to me that when proclaiming the Word, people are moved and that I’m an adequate preacher.  I have been given the gift of healing through the ministry of hands-on-healing and spiritual direction.  I have been given the gifts of faith, leadership, pastoring, teaching, knowledge, and wisdom.  I have even learned to accept voluntary poverty and celibacy(ahem…not by my choice!).  I know that I have been a source of encouragement and many have reflected on my most obvious charism which is discernment of spirits.  Oh yeah, and I seem to know how to write and am rarely without inspiration in this regard.  So……God gave me all the gifts to be not just an adequate priest, but an amazing one!  Unfortunately, God put me in a place where I have been unable to respond to this call.  In the Catholic Church in which I was raised and where my heart still remains, there is no place for women called to the priesthood.  So, the question is, how is one supposed to respond to that call to be priest when the Church they love cannot accept their gifts (even if I am no longer worshipping there….and that is a whole other story)?

Sure, I could change teams and seek ordination through another faith, but that does not resonate with my truth because even bigger than my issues with Catholicism are my issues with patriarchal, hierarchical institutions.  No, I’m not some rabid, militant feminist who hates men.  In fact, I adore men.  However, I am deeply troubled by the separation, power, control and manipulation through fear that has been promulgated by many (if not most) patriarchal, hierarchical institutions.  And, I don’t believe there is one church, corporation, educational institution, medical, government institution that is not guilty of using their hierarchical, patriarchal power to uplift themselves while keeping others small.  It is primarily for this reason that I do not bargain away my Roman Catholic upbringing for another hierarchical, patriarchal institution, none of which have anything to do with what, I believe, Jesus had in mind.

So, how does one respond to their call to be priest when the faith they grew up in won’t take them and when they can’t support any other institution founded on the same hierarchical, patriarchal sin as the one they came from?  Ultimately, this strikes me as a post-modern question.  The old guard is dying and the new is yet to be revealed.   This is a time ripe with opportunity, but fraught with danger and anxiety.  How will we tend to the grieving in the face of the death of the old?  What will the new world look like?   How will we tend to the spiritual, pastoral, religious and communal needs of a culture beyond hierarchy and patriarchy?  What will this look like?  In the meantime, what do we do?  For me, the answer can only be this:

  • Continue to preach (through this blog and other opportunities).
  • Continue to heal (through spiritual direction and hands-on-healing).
  • Continue to preside (through weddings, naming ceremonies, funerals, etc).
  • Continue to teach, counsel and lead.
  • Continue to use my gifts of discernment to help guide myself and others.
  • Continue to be open to sharing the gifts of prophecy when they emerge.
  • Continue being priest in all the ways that I know how and in all the ways in which I am free to do so.

Now, let us go in peace to love and serve the Lord.  Thanks be to God!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvFUw9HvRf8