Pope Benedict’s U.S. visit sweet and bitter

To date, Pope Benedict’s visit to the United States has been characterized by a hope filled and genuine atmosphere of reconciliation and ecumenism.

His sincere and heart felt public expression of shame and sorrow over the sex abuse scandal that has rocked the faith of many Catholic Americans is an overdue though much welcomed balm to the emotional and spiritual wounds of the victims.

During a visit to the Park East Synagogue in New York city Benedict said, “I know that the Jewish community make a valuable contribution to the life of the city and I encourage all of you to continue building bridges of friendship with all the many different ethnic and religious groups present in the neighbourhood,”

During an address to the UN General Assembly yesterday, Pope Benedict stated that “all nations have a duty to protect people from human rights violations and humanitarian crises.” He also urged all nations to work collectively to protect the environment.

Unquestionably, the violation of human rights and the destruction of the natural environment are twin evils that require our immediate and undivided attention.

Though perhaps just as telling is what remained unsaid during the last few days concerning the part played by the Catholic Church hierarchy or what some have termed the ‘old boys club’ in denying women a role in its governance.

Article 2 from the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights states that,
“Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

Will we ever see the day when the role of women in the Roman Catholic Church reflects the more equitable place of women in democratic societies or the prominent status once held by some women as heads of the early ‘house churches’ at the dawn of Christianity?

Photo courtesy (Vincenzo Pinto/AFP)

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5 Comments on “Pope Benedict’s U.S. visit sweet and bitter”

  1. Rodd Lucier says:

    Can the Catholic Church walk the talk of equality when it comes to church leadership? What a challenging question you’ve closed with Michael!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I believe your issue is that women are not called to be priests in the Church. This is to suggest that this roles hold more power or importance than the many other roles that individuals fulfill in the Church. This is not the case. The role of priest/bishop et al. is not one of “governance” comparable to the role of a congressman in our democratic society, or a vice-president in a corporate environment. These clerical roles are to serve the Body of Christ and are reserved for male for theological reasons I cannot get into here.(time is limited!) Women actual “own” many roles of equal importance in the Church. They are more likely to hold important positions within the Catholic school system as DREs, parish business managers, members of female religious communities, etc. In fact, if you look at all the roles individuals can fulfill within the Church, there is actually a disturbing shortage of males in these important leadership positions.

  3. Mike Redfearn says:

    I don’t recall mentioning in my post the issue of women not being called to be priests in the Church.

    I agree that women own many roles of importance in the Church and that, indeed, the Church as we know it would not exist without them; though clearly their roles are not of ‘equal’ importance when compared to male clerical roles.

    Some Catholics, for ‘theological reasons’ are obviously ‘more equal’ than others.

  4. Anonymous says:

    You have managed to contradict yourself within your response….you say not about the woman as priests issue…but then say they are not equal when it comes to clerical roles. By saying a non-clerical role is lesser, you devalue the contributions women make in these areas.

  5. Mike Redfearn says:

    The following quote reveals a significant contradiction that we (The Church) must eventually come to terms with.

    “To preach a theology of equality and at the same time maintain a theology of inequality , a spirituality of domination that bars half of the human race on the basis of gender from full participation(in the church) is to live a lie.” – Joan Chittister

    I appreciate your comments.


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