Lucky by John M. Erickson

This past weekend, I was asked by an individual why I decided to get my Ph.D. in American Religious History focusing on LGBTQ spirituality and sexuality.  Now, I’ve been asked this before, and if you know anything about me, you know I like to shock people at times, so my usual response is: “I have always been fascinated with people tell me I was going to hell.” 

It’s almost the end of Pride Month and I wanted to take a moment to reflect on where we’ve come and where we must go.

This past weekend, I was asked by an individual why I decided to get my Ph.D. in American Religious History focusing on LGBTQ spirituality and sexuality.  Now, I’ve been asked this before, and if you know anything about me, you know I like to shock people at times, so my usual response is: “I have always been fascinated with people telling me I was going to hell.” 

Continue reading “Lucky by John M. Erickson”

Clerical Male Mess! by Janice L. Poss

“I am sorry!” “I am guilty of sex abuse” “I have hurt many young children!” “I have ruined lives!” “We are sorry for hiding sex abuse in the Church!” “We are criminals!” “We want to make amends!” We, in the pews, have yet to hear true contrition, instead we hear how the Church needs healing. True, but where is remorse from those who perpetrated and covered-up the crimes? To heal, we must hear from them.

Remorse, a contrite heart, admitting grave sin, deceitfulness, criminal behavior, the global Catholic Church has not yet confessed this loud enough. Why? Why is male clerical privilege so deeply ingrained in the construct of In Persona Christi that none of these guilty perpetrators of crime are able to directly tell Catholics worldwide that they truly, in their hearts grieve for our church and grieve for what they have done to our children? Where is their sensitivity for children? Continue reading “Clerical Male Mess! by Janice L. Poss”

Open Letter to the Pope and all the King’s Men by Natalie Weaver

Dear Sirs,

It breaks me down.  My anger, my revulsion, my powerlessness.   I have been searching for the way since I was a child old enough to remember my mind.  For a time, I thought Jesus was a white guy knocking on my door after having seen a religious pamphlet placed under our windshield wiper.  I’m not sure he has blond hair anymore, but I still feel him knocking.  I have been in love with him for as long as I have been a self, so much so that I baptized myself as a little girl.

Somewhere along the way, I figured my little, lonely way wasn’t good enough, and I wanted a church home.  I finished a doctoral dissertation trying to find some place I could hang my hat.  I picked the Roman Catholic Church, despite what I knew of it and what I had to defend about its patriarchy and history to family and friends.  I loved the conversation, the so-called “Catholic Intellectual Tradition.”  I always felt myself to be a covert, a conversa, a definitive outsider, and someone not to be trusted entirely as a cradle Catholic might be trusted, yet I tried to be family. I’ve been bringing up my kids in the Church, volunteering, working in Catholic education, paying the boys’ tuition.  I do work-arounds, making excuses for the exclusion of women, defying the Church’s stance on sexuality with a critical repertoire of cross-disciplinary scholarship.  Lord, I even had to help my Seventh-Day Adventist mom with a hostile annulment process that was dropped on her unsuspecting by a horrendously insensitive marriage tribunal.  It wounded us all. Yet, here I have sat, until this.

Continue reading “Open Letter to the Pope and all the King’s Men by Natalie Weaver”

Forgive Me, Mother, For I Have Sinned: Earth, Ancestors, and the Role of Confession by Tallessyn Zawn Grenfell-Lee

Ah, confession. I admit I never really much understood the Catholic practice of confession to a priest; as a United Methodist growing up, the idea of confession – while challenging – nonetheless seemed to belong squarely between myself and the (supposedly male) God that (apparently) loves and forgives us while still calling us to live into a more perfect vision of our individual selves and of the kin-dom. But to confess things to a minister? In a little booth? The very idea gave me the heebie-jeebies. Probably even more so since my father and/or stepmother were usually said minister. Well, that wasn’t a common Catholic thing either, I suppose.

I took confession very seriously, however. I firmly believed that we have all sinned and fallen short, and that we can and must do better – for our own lives and wellbeing, for our loved ones, for humanity, and for the whole Creation. Confession was like the first step toward healing – like a diagnosis; without admitting what was going wrong – or what was inadequate – how could we take steps toward what was right?

Continue reading “Forgive Me, Mother, For I Have Sinned: Earth, Ancestors, and the Role of Confession by Tallessyn Zawn Grenfell-Lee”

Honoring St. Mary of Magdala by Gina Messina

Gina Messina-Dysert profileWhile I am joining the conversation a bit late, I find it necessary to comment on the significance of the “upgrading” of the celebration of  St. Mary of Magdala to a feast – on par with the male apostles.  While such a day that honors her is quite overdue, I am grateful to Pope Francis for acknowledging this incredible woman and her leadership in the Christian movement.

As we know from the Gospels, it was Mary Magdalene who stood at the foot of the cross with Mary the mother of Jesus, during his crucifixion.  When the male apostles ran in fear – and rightfully so – Mary of Magdala stood with Jesus refusing to disavow him and was a face of love for him to see during his darkest moment.

It was Mary of Magdala who was the first witness of Christ’s resurrection.  The very first Easter began with her and she was commissioned by Jesus to go and share the good news – to tell the other apostles – and that is why she is known as the apostle to the apostles. Continue reading “Honoring St. Mary of Magdala by Gina Messina”

Wonder Bread by Natalie Weaver

Natalie Weaver editedIt is a difficult thing to wake up and realize you are living a life you do not recognize. This happens for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes, it happens dramatically as in the case of death, job loss, personal trauma, or illness. Other times it is a slow and insidious transition from what you knew to what you have become, as you find yourself looking at your workplace and recognizing no one or wondering who these people are in your home. Sometimes it is as simple as getting a haircut or a pair of contact lenses, when suddenly you see some wrinkle or skin mark you didn’t know had been forming while you slept. I find this experience shockingly regular now, and while I am no longer surprised that it happens, I am consistently surprised at what I discover.

For example, my son is now an altar server in the Roman Catholic Church. This has occurred concurrently with my very unexpected involvement in an annulment case, which has revealed an outrageous lack of pastoral sensitivity on the part of the Church. Witnessing the hurt this process causes, I could run from the Church. But then there is my son in the choir and serving at Mass, trying to understand this world that I both introduce him to and also roundly critique. I was chatting with a colleague at lunch over such matters and noticed her quieting after a time, eyes cast off into the distance. After a long pause, she murmured, “How did I get here again?” Continue reading “Wonder Bread by Natalie Weaver”

“Is that your wife or your girlfriend?” by Natalie Weaver

Natalie Weaver edited“Is that your wife or your girlfriend?”  These words were addressed to my husband a few weeks back as I walked up to a podium, where I was to sit on a panel and give my views on the relationship between the Church and Generation X.  The event was a well-attended and well-funded initiative by a well-known organization, celebrating its multi-decade long history of supporting progressive action and vision for the future the Roman Catholic Church.  After accolades, awards, and a stirring keynote, I and two others were to address in cross-generational perspective, the needs of changing populations of Catholics.

It was a slightly uncomfortable event for me because I was not sure who my audience was, but I was pretty certain early on in the night that everyone in the room had more or less acquiesced to the same set of ideas, framed in the same ways, and represented by the same heroic champions of women’s ecclesial vocations and same-sex unions.  I knew basically what this group was about, but I had not prepared remarks specifically aimed at women’s ordination or homosexuality. I focused on the issues of authority, ambiguity, and ambivalence as historical-situational markers for Gen X (that is, to the extent that I felt that I could say anything collectively about or for Gen X at all), and as a result I was not sure that my words, perhaps misaligned, would really add too much to the evening.

As it turned out, it did not matter what I had prepared to say because I didn’t have a chance to say it.  The accolades, awards, and stirring keynote went way too long, and the panel had fewer than fifteen minutes total, including Q & A, to address the perspectives of representatives of three different generations on the status of the Roman Catholic Church. Ah, the best laid plans, right…

So, it felt a little like a bust, but at least at first I thought it was still a nice enough night.  The location was a bit of a drive from my house, but it happened that my mom was visiting AND my husband was free.  This meant that my mom could watch the kids and William could drive with me – a rare thing for my speaking and even rarer on a random, unplanned weekday. As we were getting ready for bed, as I often do, I asked William to tell me a joke.  He hesitated for a moment, and then this exchanged followed: Continue reading ““Is that your wife or your girlfriend?” by Natalie Weaver”

The Francis Blindspot by Gina Messina-Dysert

Gina Messina-Dysert profileThe day Pope Francis was elected is a memorable one for many Catholics, myself included.  Watching our new pope walk out on to the balcony of the Vatican and bow to the crowd left me in tears.  It seemed in Pope Francis we would have a leader who recognized the full humanity of every person in the community; and in asking the people for their blessing, he acknowledged the role we all play in the ministry of Jesus.

Named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, boasting an astronomical approval rating of 90% among American Catholics, and more than 12 million Twitter followers, Francis has taken the papacy to a new level. People around the world continue to be mesmerized by his acts of kindness and mercy.  His commitment to social justice for the poor, simplistic living, welcoming message to persons of all faiths, and proclamation “Who am I to judge?” is refreshing to say the least.  Nonetheless, this does not mean Pope Francis does not have blind spots, nor that we do not have a responsibility to remind him of them. Continue reading “The Francis Blindspot by Gina Messina-Dysert”

Movement Within the Catholic Church – Time for Receptive Ecumenism? by Michele Stopera Freyhauf

Michele Stopera When I originally learned about the concept of receptive ecumenism and the movement to more fully reach across lines of faith traditions as a means of ecclesiastical growth, my first reaction was to ask the question – what about women in the pews?  

Dr. Paul Murray from Durham University conceived of the idea of receptive ecumenism, which had three international conferences of church leaders and theologians working together in a way that looks to learn from each other. The focus is not that our religion is better than yours, rather what can we learn from your faith tradition that could enrich ours without compromising our tradition. With this final conference and after years of lectures, meetings, and publications, Dr. Murray sent this concept out into the world to see if it had legs – and it really does. Pope Francis embraced this concept, so has the Anglican Church. The movement is also thriving in Australia to the point that eighteen delegates were present at June’s meeting in Fairfield, Connecticut. For my part, I raised the question whether or not the Catholic Church was postured to engage fully in this dialogue. Essentially, it boils down to this, how can we have an inter-faith dialogue when we are unwilling, as a church, to have an intra-faith dialogue that includes all voices. The teachings of the Second Vatican Council laid the groundwork for ecumenical dialogue to occur at a multilateral levels. The council mandated us to look inward as well. Continue reading “Movement Within the Catholic Church – Time for Receptive Ecumenism? by Michele Stopera Freyhauf”

Film Radical Grace Highlights Nuns’ Response to Vatican Reprimand

Radical GraceWhile the Catholic Church has sought to control US Nuns through what has been called the “New Inquisition,” it has been unsuccessful in its efforts.  The film Radical Grace documents the response of Sr. Simone Campbell, Sr. Jean Hughes, and Sr. Chris Shenk and is nothing short of brilliant.  Producers Rebecca Parrish and Nicole Bernardi-Reis chronicle their holy journeys in maintaining their vows by challenging the Vatican.  A full review of the film can be read here.

Please consider supporting the film through its crowdfund campaign.  The opportunity to meditate with Sr. Simone is incentive enough!  Congrats to Rebecca and Nicole on their fantastic project and much gratitude to Sr. Simone, Sr. Jean, and Sr. Chris for reminding us that “love is blind but obedience shouldn’t be.”

On April 30, the Vatican Doctrine of Faith “told the leadership group they were ignoring procedures for choosing speakers for their annual conferences and questioned if their programs were promoting heresy,” dashing hopes that the new pope would take a different attitude toward the nuns.

Continue reading “Film Radical Grace Highlights Nuns’ Response to Vatican Reprimand”

Three Wishes for the New Year: Peace, Kindness, and Dialogue in the Catholic Church by Michele Stopera Freyhauf

Freyhauf, Feminism, Religion, Durham, Old Testament, Blogger, Bible, Gender, Violence, Ursuline, John Carroll While I sit and write this post, Christmas celebrations are concluded and I prepare, with the rest of the world, to embark on a new year; a year with my idealistic hopes and want for a better future for humanity.  So for New Year’s I am taking out my golden lamp and making three big wishes:  peace, kindness, and dialogue in the Catholic Church.


“True peace is not a balancing of opposing forces. It’s not a lovely façade which conceals conflicts and divisions…. peace calls for daily commitment.” – Pope Francis

Peace transcends governments and countries.  Peace should be a daily commitment that each one of us lives every day and practiced in each of our relationships. Looking forward to a new year, I hope to put this into practice and  we will see a shift in politics and attitudes that reflect an ideal of peace and reconciliation – not just nationally, but communally. 

With peace also comes reconciliation.  Fighting takes too much energy.   Making a point to reconcile with that relative or friend that you had a falling out with is a goal that has the potential to bear fruit and be restorative.


Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain

With peace and reconciliation comes kindness.  This wish is a large request and one that the Pope calls us to embrace.    A kindness is required that reaches the poor and oppressed, that reaches non-Catholics including atheists, and, that touches every race, class, and orientation. We do not have the right to judge – a sentiment that the Pope continues to reiterate.

According to Julia Baird, “even scientists are now touting the physical and psychological benefits of kindness, compassion, and selflessness.  Multiple studies now show: a single act of kindness can trigger dozens more … and repetitive acts of kindness can make people happier, and less depressed.” This is not a new revelation, but a reminder of the benefits of kindness – a reminder we need to carry into the New Year.

We should, however, remember help the homeless, the children, and the oppressed. This group of people is often ignored the news media, but lack of attention to a problem does not diminish it.  According to the Pope, scandals are the news of today, but the children without food are not news worthy.  According to Pope Francis, we should not “interfere in the lives of others” in a way that is malicious, like gossiping or being boastful.  This behavior brings hurt, bitterness and envy.  Kindness is necessary for a better future for all of humanity.

Dialogue with the Catholic Church

“Fifty years ago, Vatican II spoke of communications.  Let us listen to, dialogue with, and bring Christ all those we encounter in life.” – Pope Francis

Let us not focus on rituals and rules in the Church; rather, we need to focus on the people of the Church.  People,

after all, make up the Church – not brick and mortar.  Because of this, we need to focus on dialogue – a dialogue with each other, regardless of belief or life choices.  This dialogue should be rooted in a positive attitude and carried out with love and humility.  It should include a focus that reaches out to facilitate peace.  This dialogue should also include the discussion of women’s roles in the Church.  There are so many things to discuss.  The Church is a human church.  With the invitation to dialogue and re-address so many of the untouched or misinterpreted teachings of Vatican II, might we move forward and rebuild this Catholic Church on the shoulders of one who served the poor, loved everyone, and gave of himself?

What are your wishes for the new year?  I would love to hear from you.

From my family to yours, may you have a peace-filled, prosperous, and delightful 2014.

Michele Stopera Freyhauf:  Doctoral Student in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies and a Member of the Centre for Catholic Studies at Durham University as well as an Instructor at John Carroll University’s Department of Theology and Religious Studies, Adjunct Professor in Religious Studies at Ursuline College and the University of Mount Union. Michele has an M. A. in Theology and Religious Studies from John Carroll University,  and did post-graduate work at the University of Akron in the area of History of Religion, Women, and Sexuality.  She is also a Member-at-Large on the Student Advisory Board for the Society of Biblical Literature and the student representative on the Board for Eastern Great Lakes Biblical Society (EGLBS).  Michele is a feminist scholar, activist, and author of several articles including “Hagia Sophia: Political and Religious Symbolism in Stones and Spolia”  and lectured during the Commission for the Status of Women at the United Nations (2013). Michele can be followed on Twitter @msfreyhauf  and @biblicalfem.  Her website can be accessed here and is visible on other social media sites like LinkedIn and Google+

I Dream of Pope Francis by Gina Messina-Dysert

Gina Messina-Dysert profileIt was just last week that I received an email from Pope Francis.  He wrote me having seen my interview with Tavis Smiley and said he sympathized with my appeal for a Church that serves the needs of the people.  Pope Francis requested that I come to the Vatican to meet with him to discuss the papacy and his efforts to redirect the Church’s attention.  Of course, I immediately accepted and began to create my agenda for our meeting: women’s ordination, same-sex marriage, reproductive justice, and…my alarm went off.  It was just a dream. Sigh…

Totally disappointed at the realization of its ridiculousness, I wondered why Pope Francis had invaded my dreams.  Could it have been prophetic as my good friend and colleague (jokingly) suggested?  Or perhaps I’m narcissistic enough to fantasize that I have such wisdom to share.   Either way, no other pope has ever occupied my thoughts in such a way. Continue reading “I Dream of Pope Francis by Gina Messina-Dysert”

Papal Retirement: A Matter of Conscience by Mary E. Hunt

Mary HuntThe unexpected announcement of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI is a welcome breath of fresh air. A human being, even a pope, ought to have the option to say enough is enough, I have done what I can do, and now it is time for someone else to take over. I applaud his move and read it as a sign of hope in a dreary ecclesial scene.

Speculation about his health is rampant. As with many elders whose offspring plot to take away the car keys, I suspect there was some backdoor lobbying to make this retirement happen. But I dare to hope that it was at least in part the considered judgment of an octogenarian who saw his predecessor propped up long after his prime and did not want the same for himself.

But before looking for the backstory there’s something in Benedict’s resignation statement that bears noting: “After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.” Continue reading “Papal Retirement: A Matter of Conscience by Mary E. Hunt”


pope-1-1216The world is stunned this morning as news breaks that Pope Benedict XVI has announced that he will resign his position due to lack of strength to carry out his role; he stated: “to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me”.

“For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter.” Continue reading “BREAKING NEWS: Pope Resigns”

Voice of Wisdom: What Hildegard Means Now by Mary Sharratt

sharratt$mary_lresHildegard von Bingen (1098–1179) was a visionary abbess and polymath. She composed an entire corpus of sacred music and wrote nine books on subjects as diverse as theology, cosmology, botany, medicine, linguistics, and human sexuality, a prodigious intellectual outpouring that was unprecedented for a 12th-century woman. Her prophecies earned her the title Sybil of the Rhine.

Pope Benedict XVI canonized Hildegard on May 10, 2012—over eight centuries after her death. In October 2012, she was elevated to Doctor of the Church, a rare and solemn title reserved for theologians who have significantly impacted Church doctrine. Hildegard is the fourth woman in the entire history of the Church to receive this distinction.

But what does Hildegard mean for a wider interfaith audience today?  Continue reading “Voice of Wisdom: What Hildegard Means Now by Mary Sharratt”

I Stand with Fr. Roy Bourgeois by Gina Messina-Dysert

“The Vatican and Maryknoll can dismiss me, but they cannot dismiss the issue of gender equality in the Catholic Church.” – Fr. Roy Bourgeois 

While many have said it should be no surprise that Fr. Roy Bourgeois has been excommunicated from the Catholic Church, I was and am utterly astounded, not to mention deeply saddened.

I have been well aware (and an admirer) of Fr. Roy’s work for sometime; but came to know him personally about one year ago.  While I believed my expectations were unrealistic, Fr. Roy not only lived up to, but surpassed the superhero image I had created in my mind.  He is an incredibly humble and generous man whose utmost concern is honoring the dignity of every human being.  On a personal level Fr. Roy is a friend and mentor; on a social and communal level, I respect his activism, courage, and refusal to comply with demands that violate human rights.  In the face of continual threats Fr. Roy stood strong and now pays the ultimate price for following his conscience.  Excommunication means that he has lost his position and his home; his livelihood, status, and vocation have been taken away.  Fr. Roy is forced into laity and the job market at an age where he should be focused on retiring. Continue reading “I Stand with Fr. Roy Bourgeois by Gina Messina-Dysert”

IN THE NEWS: Women’s Ordination in the Catholic Church

On October 6th, the first Catholic women’s ordination in Los Angeles was performed when two women were welcomed as priests into Roman Catholic Women Priests.  There are now 143 women ordained worldwide in a movement that has refused to wait for the Vatican to acknowledge women as leaders in the Church.

There has been a great deal of dialogue around the issue of women’s ordination in the Catholic Church.  Organizations like Women’s Ordination Conference are focused on the mission of ordaining women in the Catholic Church and argue that women in leadership roles will lead to change in policies that are oppressive to women.   However, other movements argue that ordaining women simply continues the hierarchical culture of the Church.   Continue reading “IN THE NEWS: Women’s Ordination in the Catholic Church”

The Crime of Being a Girl Scout: The Sin of Raising Strong Female Leaders by Michele Stopera Freyhauf

Cradle Catholic and Woman

Educated by the U. S. Vowed Religious

Support the U. S. Catholic Sisters

Support, Minister, and Live the Social Gospel

Theologian, Feminist, and Critical Thinker

Former Girl Scout Leader of Three Troops

Former Girl Scout

I am all of these things and more.  By the recent attacks by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, I am beginning to think I am the problem.  I seem to stand for everything the Vatican and USCCB seek to silence.  Is it because of my organizational ties with the U. S. Vowed Religious and Girl Scouts, or my writings as a Feminist and Theologian?  Maybe the answer is simply – because I am a woman.

According to the criticisms launched by the USCCB and the Vatican, I seem to be part of the problem rather than the solution.  Why is this so?  It was not until I started my journey in ministry that my idealistic “Catholic” bubble popped – not so much by me, but by those in ministry and leadership, by those that did not like laity to pose questions and think critically about their faith beliefs, and by  those that do not like people who do not fit within the preconceived mold of what a “good Catholic” should be.  This ideological construct is difficult enough when you are part of a Church community, but when you begin to embrace leadership as a woman, question teachings, exercise your canonical rights, your peers and even people you thought were your friends, no longer talk or associate with you. The betrayal is vicious and runs deep – it is behavior not becoming of a minister or one who professes the Catholic faith.

If the attack on you is not enough, these same people victimize your children through their words and behavior.  It is a difficult position for anyone to survive spiritually.  For children of the Church who bear witness to this hypocritical behavior, a journey begins – they search for meaning within the spiritual realm and become disgruntled with anything that resembles organized religion.  A place where one seeks community and spiritual nourishment becomes a place of oppression and starvation.  If attacking family is not enough, let’s start attacking groups that promote community – groups like the Girl Scouts of America.

So, what is the USCCB’s problem with the Girl Scouts of America?  Basically, this organization is under fire for suspected deviant thinking and positions that stand opposed to Church teaching. Continue reading “The Crime of Being a Girl Scout: The Sin of Raising Strong Female Leaders by Michele Stopera Freyhauf”

Pink Smoke Over the Vatican: A Review by Kate Conmy

Review: Pink Smoke Over the Vatican (2010)

Award-Winning Independent Documentary Film

Directed by Jules Hart

By Kate Conmy, MA.

Membership Coordinator of the Women’s Ordination Conference.

Last weekend I had the honor of joining over eighty Women’s Ordination Conference members and supporters in Claremont, California for a screening of “Pink Smoke Over the Vatican” followed by a distinguished panel discussion.  WOC board member Miriam Todoroff of Pilgrim Place hosted the event, along with Rev. Kathleen Jess, ECC, with local support from Theresa Yugar. “Pink Smoke Over the Vatican” has recently been made available for purchase, but for the past couple of years the film has starred in women’s ordination movement circles, drawing hundreds to cinemas, churches, universities, and homes for a peek at the controversial and moving film.

Fr. Roy Bourgeois has taken the show on the road, touring and speaking throughout the world (from Rhode Island to Rome) on women’s ordination and the important stories in the film. Fr. Roy’s involvement with women’s ordination is well documented, however, notably, “Pink Smoke Over the Vatican” is specifically mentioned in his First Canonical Warning from his Order, the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, insisting that his public support and promotion of the movie was a Holy Offense. More than just good press, this is a testament to the power contained within this film. Continue reading “Pink Smoke Over the Vatican: A Review by Kate Conmy”

A Reflection of What Influences and Controls My Ideologies: An Examination Of Althusser’s Ideological State Apparatus By Michele Stopera Freyhauf

 Michele Stopera Freyhauf:  Feminist scholar, activist, and graduate student in religion and biblical studies at John Carroll University, Michele is the student representative on the Board for Eastern Great Lakes Biblical Society (EGLBS) and author of several articles including “Hagia Sophia: Political and Religious Symbolism in Stones and Spolia.”  Her research interests involve Feminism, Sexuality, the influence of Goddess imagery, Myth, and Rhetoric especially in the Old Testament, Ancient Egypt and Early Christianity.  She also focuses her research in feminism, migration studies, and genocide as it relates to women, especially in the Middle East and Latin America.

Exploring the new world of historiography this semester has been an adventure.  In my studies, I came across an interesting person named Louis Pierre Althusser.  He is considered a structuralist Marxist and in 1970, he wrote an essay titled Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses (Notes towards an Investigation).  The basis of his argument explores how various institutions control the working class.  We have our ideas taken from or given to us because we were essentially molded by various institutions that are being controlled by an agency of power, like government or church.  Someone has told us what it is to be moral and ingrained that definition.  Someone has influenced our idea of what it means once you graduate from high school then college.  Someone else has defined the benchmark for wealth and happiness or when we have enough “stuff.”  Ideologically we are controlled by so many outside factors.  It is this point that I want to reflect an explore as a Feminist, a mother, a graduate student, and part of the proverbial 99%. Continue reading “A Reflection of What Influences and Controls My Ideologies: An Examination Of Althusser’s Ideological State Apparatus By Michele Stopera Freyhauf”

Diminished Quality of Catechesis as a Basis for Limiting the Role of a Catholic Theologian: An Examination of the Controversy Surrounding Elizabeth Johnson’s Book The Quest for the Living God By Michele Stopera Freyhauf

The biggest mistake people make is to use theology and catechesis interchangeably.  This is an important distinction that impacts the scholarly community of Catholic Theologians.  So what is the difference?  Catechesis in the Catholic tradition is an “echoing” of the faith.  Theology on the other hand, using St. Anselm’s definition, is “faith seeking understanding.”  Michael G. Lawler and Todd A. Salzman, in “Beyond Catechesis: What is the Proper Role of Theology”, states that catechesis can be included in theology, but theology is distinguished from catechesis because it “uses scholarly principles not only to communicate the truths of faith but also to explore the meanings of those truths and contemporary ways of articulating them.”  Also the theologians’ role is seen as mediator between the magisterium and the faithful. Richard P. McBrien states that the required role of a theologian is to investigate and examine the whole of the Christian tradition; what it means, how it fits, how it is developed, and how it relates to the outside the world in theory and in practice.   Ex Corde Ecclesiae also emphasizes community and dialogue, which is not always realized in practice.  Continue reading “Diminished Quality of Catechesis as a Basis for Limiting the Role of a Catholic Theologian: An Examination of the Controversy Surrounding Elizabeth Johnson’s Book The Quest for the Living God By Michele Stopera Freyhauf”

In Search of My Religious Identity By Gina Messina-Dysert

I try to avoid watching too much television – it feels like there are so many other things I should be focused on; but I was quite engrossed in the show Big Love during its run on HBO.  Its concluding season was by far my favorite because of its focus on women and faith.  In one of the final episodes the character Barbara Hendrickson struggled with whether or not to be baptized into a new church and it was a struggle I identified with greatly.  Although her faith had changed and she no longer felt connected to the doctrine of her previous church, moving on to a new community that fit her beliefs meant abandoning her family.

I was raised in a very traditional Italian/Sicilian Roman Catholic household, attended Catholic schools, and was married in the Catholic Church.  As a child, being Catholic offered me a sense of pride; however growing up I began to question the Church as I recognized the many ways it is abusive to women.  Becoming a graduate student of religion led me on a roller coaster journey that allowed me to further explore my religious identity. Continue reading “In Search of My Religious Identity By Gina Messina-Dysert”

Is it Right to Intentionally Lie Because the Church Says to? The Case of Fr. Roy’s Assertion of Conscience Over Vatican’s Mandate to Lie By Michele Stopera Freyhauf

Fr. Roy Bourgeois has many titles: Nobel Peace Prize winner, purple heart recipient, former missionary, member of the Maryknoll Fathers for 44 years, and ordained priest for 38 years.  He has long been associated with social justice and helping the oppressed and marginalized.  He was a peace activist during the Vietnam War and founded the School of Americas Watch.  He is found often marching and protesting in front of the School of Americas (now WHINSEC ), a terror training camp at Ft. Benning  where soldiers are trained in devices of torture.  This is where soldiers that were members of the death squads that existed in Latin America, especially in El Salvadorwere trained. This is also where the soldiers who killed the Jesuits, their maid, and her child as well as Monsignor Romero were trained.

Fr. Roy is and continues to be an important activist for peace and justice and a champion for the poor.   At the risk of being defrocked, Fr. Roy is also an advocate on behalf of another oppressed group – women in the Catholic Church. Fr. Roy, through his actions, is now among the group of the oppressed and stands in punishment of a crime considered “delicta gravioria” by the Vatican.  The brevity of his crime defined as “delicta gravioria” is shared with other offenders such as John GeoghanJohn Birmingham, Paul Desilets, Robert V. Gale, and others found guilty of pedophilia in the Sex Abuse Scandal that rocked the United States.  However Fr. Roy’s crime is not pedophilia; it is the public support of ordaining women. Continue reading “Is it Right to Intentionally Lie Because the Church Says to? The Case of Fr. Roy’s Assertion of Conscience Over Vatican’s Mandate to Lie By Michele Stopera Freyhauf”

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