As we move toward the eve of what is undoubtedly the most important general assembly of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in the organization’s history, it’s remarkable to take note of how many articles, commentaries, blogs, and cartoons have been dedicated to the Vatican’s scrutiny of women religious.
Grace on the Margins
If last week's elevation of Bishop Salvatore Cordileone of Oakland, Calif., to archbishop of San Francisco proves anything, it's that attacking marriage equality puts a man on the fast-track to promotion in the Roman Catholic Church. A quick survey of the hierarchy's most recent, high-profile appointments reveals a common denominator.
As NCR reported Monday, communities throughout the country offered special liturgies this weekend to honor Mary Magdalene, whose feast day was Sunday. A community in San Diego invited me to preach at its celebration of "the Apostle to the Apostles." Rather than choosing a Gospel narrative about Mary Magdalene, they chose instead the story of the Samaritan woman in chapter 4 of John's Gospel.
"We are the 99%, made in God's image, seeking God's justice."
So declares the Facebook page for Occupy Catholics, one of the latest additions to the pantheon of Catholic church justice movements. But rather than emerging out of Vatican II or in direct response to a particular crisis within the institutional church, Occupy Catholics might be the first progressive Catholic group to grow directly out of a popular movement.
It was no surprise when, last week, Bill Keller's New York Times column declaring that progressive and liberal Catholics should leave the church, received a seemingly endless screed of online comments, as well as Facebook shares, tweets and recurring spins on blog rolls.
With the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop's very public battle against same-sex marriage and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's recent condemnation of Mercy Sr. Margaret Farley's sexual ethics book, Just Love, it seems hard to remember a time when the Roman Catholic Church wasn't fixated on LGBT issues.
In "Taking a Chance on God," Irish-born filmmaker Brendan Fay reminds us that not only is this struggle relatively new in church history, but the momentum behind the movement began with one courageous priest and his groundbreaking book.
Those wondering what the laity's response to the LCWR crisis might mean for the future of the church justice movement needed only look at the front steps of New York City's St. Patrick's Cathedral on the very warm evening of May 29.
More than 150 people gathered to hold a vigil in honor of women religious. The vigil was part of a movement spearheaded by Nun Justice, which called for peaceful protests at cathedrals throughout the country on three consecutive Tuesdays in the month of May.
Only weeks after taking a broad swipe at the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has returned to its more typical routine of taking aim at individual theologians.
The latest target is Mercy Sr. Margaret Farley, professor emeritus of Christian ethics at Yale Divinity School, and her 2006 book Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics.
Much has been made in recent months about an ad placed in The New York Times urging liberal and nominal Catholics to "quit the church" because it can never be changed from within, and to participate in it is to cooperate with its oppressive system.
The ad was paid for by an organization called the Freedom from Religion Foundation. But the more I reflect on both the ad and the behavior of our hierarchy lately, there is part of me that wouldn't be surprised if we learned that the Vatican itself had secretly paid for the advertisement.
As I listen to the fallout from President Obama's announcement that he supports marriage equality, I have been struck particularly by the argument that marriage between a man and a woman is superior to committed relationships between same-sex partners.
Official Roman Catholic teaching bases this belief on the theory of natural law, arguing that all sex acts must take place within the state of marriage and must have the potential to create new life. This is why, according to the doctrine, sexual intercourse must always be involved in any sexual activity between a wife and husband.
Since same-sex couples do not have "complementing genders" and, therefore, cannot procreate, their relationships are by their very nature inferior. Having read Aristotle's and Aquinas's theory of natural law, I believe that the church has taken a very rich idea and reduced it to purely the level of biological function.