Deb Rose-Milavec, Simone Campbell and Kate McElwee at “Voices of Faith” in 2017
I am indebted to Simone Campbell for this week’s theme, courtesy of Marian Ronan. In The Georgetown Voice, the ever-revolutionary Campbell “then took audience questions, leading to a profession of her personal ‘heresy,’ her belief that women can and should be ordained.
“’Ordination is an extension of baptism, and there are different kinds of baptism… Why can’t there be different kinds of ordination? In my experience, in real communities, women are already called to priestly opportunities,’ said Campbell. ‘My advice is to step in where we’re called, and opportunities will open. Ordination is in response to need.’
“’We can have the institutional fight,’ said Campbell. ‘But let’s just do, and definitions will catch up.’”
Campbell’s talk – and life and witness – is all an example of her “just doing,” justice doing. Every time I have heard her speak, the depth of her spirituality is evident – though she is better known for her activism, from leading NETWORK to the Nuns on the Bus. This talk seems to have been no exception, and I encourage you to support NETWORK’s work and to listen to Campbell every chance you get.
And if you want to embrace a model of the “institutional fight,” there’s always the new movie, Created Equal. A young sister sues the Catholic Church to be allowed to enter the seminary to be ordained a priest. Watch the trailer! They follow the article by Kristen Whitney Daniels in NCR. A bit more like Dan Brown than is my usual fare. I still can’t wait to see it, which does suggest that I’ve seen Dan Brown movies, too. Anything to further the cause.
Daniels grounds this film: [it] “does not shy away from fleshing out the deeper theological and legal questions that such a case would actually raise: Can you be a good-standing, female Catholic and still want to be a priest? Who decides whose call to a vocation is valid? Can the court legally intervene in the church’s traditions? Do religious liberty laws exempt religions from discrimination laws?” I am sure we in WOC will see it through this lens: questions we have confronted and answered many times, the heresy we embrace.
The producer, Thada Catalon, is less theological. “What drew me to [this story] is it’s an equal rights issue,” Catalon told NCR. “I’m not Catholic, so when I came into it all I saw was a woman who wanted to be a priest and she wasn’t able to simply because she was a woman. … I wanted to be a part of something that can make a statement, that can be a part of a progressive movement that helps women.” She also refers to ancient history: “At the time when it was presented to me we had three women running for president of the United States and we were still having that conversation of whether a woman can break through that glass ceiling, and it’s like, why not?” Catalon said. “And so that, to me, the whole movement started there honestly with a woman trying to become president of the United States. … It’s women just trying to make a stance and say, ‘Hey, we’re here and we should be equals.’ ” Thank goodness, that is not a heresy here…is it?
Expanding the heresies, Mary Hunt begins her report in Religion Dispatches: “Why is this International Women’s Day in the Vatican different from virtually every other International Women’s Day in the Vatican? It isn’t. Women still have no power to make and implement decisions. The proof is painful, but clear.”
It has been very exciting for those involved in the past four years to be discussing women’s issues IN the Vatican. Organized by Chantal Goetz, Voices of Faith’s goal is “to bring together leaders in the Vatican with the global Catholic community, so they can recognise that women have the expertise, skills, and gifts to play a full leadership role in the Church. Why does the Church continue to deny women that right based purely on gender? We amplify the capability of women in education and programs of social transformation, especially in areas of marginalisation and extreme poverty. Above all we showcase the enormous and under-utilised potential of women to exercise leadership at all levels of the Catholic Church.”
This year the group chose riskier speakers. Mary McAleese, the former President of the Republic of Ireland, is the only one named as excluded by Irish-born American Cardinal Kevin Farrell, the head of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life. McAleese’s son is gay; she has supported women’s ordination and has taken a strong stand on making the upcoming World Meeting of Families in Dublin LGBT-inclusive. You remember the inclusivity of the meeting after WOW in Philadelphia, right?
Others excluded may be Ssenfuka Joanita Warry, “a lesbian Catholic advocate from Uganda,” according to Robert Shine in Bondings, and according to Hunt, “… it’s anyone’s guess who caught the cardinal’s ire and why,” whose comment here should be a tease to get you to read her whole article, which examines the power of access and money in Vatican circles, and to watch for reports about this March 8 event.
Voices of Faith will be held in the Jesuit Curia in Rome. Just like Georgetown, open to women and our ideas. Embracing the most persistent heresies of our time.