A Sword Will Pierce Your Own Soul by Mary Jane Miller

On Holy Ground is a collection of icons for this age of climate change. The collection of iconography opens with an image of Mary of Swords inspired by the number seven. This sacred number is associated with intuition, mysticism, inner wisdom, and a deep inward knowing. The ancient church speaks of seven deadly sins and seven holy attributes, and seven sacraments. The composition places the planet Earth beside Mary as she bows her head having been told, “ a sword will pierce Your own Soul ”
Mary of Sorrows or in this case, Mary the softener of Evil Hearts tilts her head lovingly towards our planet Earth. Seven swords pierce her heart; indicating the fullness and boundless sorrow, pain and “sickness of heart” that would have been experienced by Mary the Mother of Jesus at His crucifixion.
Muslims pilgrims circle the Kaaba in Mecca sevens times, and Egyptians had seven gods.

Continue reading “A Sword Will Pierce Your Own Soul by Mary Jane Miller”

Women Missing from the Pope’s Address to US Bishops by Gina Messina-Dysert

Gina Messina-Dysert profilePope Francis offered many words of wisdom and discussed key issues in his address to US Bishops in Washington DC.  He acknowledged the sex abuse scandal as a crime and called for bishops to be healers.  He asked that bishops move beyond their own perspectives and be open to dialogue.  And his personal call to act as pastors to immigrants in the US is one that we should all adhere to.  However, I must ask, what about the women?

Noticeably absent from Pope Francis’ address are the many issues that are directly connected poverty and keep women suppressed in the Catholic Church. While he has addressed particular women’s issues on certain occasions, the pope’s comments have been brief and not followed with action. In addition, they do not honor the ongoing struggles women endure as a result of institutional violence that stems from Vatican teaching.

Refusing women’s ordination, denying reproductive rights, and maintaining a theology of complementarity, calling it an “anthropological fact,” continues a culture that perpetuates gender based violence; one that does not offer pastoral care. Continue reading “Women Missing from the Pope’s Address to US Bishops by Gina Messina-Dysert”

I Look To The Sky by Martha Cecilia Ovadia

I was10298689_10104523891581853_7256973903379376739_n formed by traditions. I was formed by religious rituals. I was a part of a religious community.

I no longer have traditions. I no longer have religious rituals. I am no longer part of a religious community.

I constantly have to tell myself the “no longers” when I feel the echos and ghosts of my past creeping up behind me, reminding me of not only who I was, but who I no longer am.

I sometimes whisper to my husband, “I sleep with ghosts…”

I do not just sleep with ghosts. I wake with ghosts. I sometimes even feel like a ghost. Why?

For me, the act of being Catholic was very much a part of my be-ing. To no longer have Catholicism as part of my be-ing leaves me feeling haunted.

My normal schedule when I was 21 looked like this:

6:00 am: Morning Prayer (Liturgy of the Hours)
7:oo am: Daily Mass, rosary
12:00 pm: Meet people at our church hall (the youth room) to then go to lunch (where we would do midday prayers before eating)
5 pm: sometimes mass again
7 pm: adoration, rosary, and then evening prayer with praise and worship

If it was Saturday or Sunday, it was even more intense (because I was not in classes).

When I was an active Catholic, I had a very distinct language for everything. I had a ritual for all occasions. I was an integral part of a community with very defined roles. I do not have these things anymore and navigating without them has been exhilarating but terrifying. Continue reading “I Look To The Sky by Martha Cecilia Ovadia”

You Are What You Read by Martha Cecilia Ovadia

10298689_10104523891581853_7256973903379376739_nWhen it comes to my family, I’ve always felt different. One of my earliest memories from when I was really young was being told that I felt things too passionately—that I felt too much. What was never said but was implied was that I felt dissent too much, too often, too vocally. It made people uncomfortable. It made my family uncomfortable. When it came to understanding my faith/religious path, my family and I started diverging early on, never really meeting again—at least not for now.

When I was about five, I remember asking why women could not be priests. My mother brushed it aside and said we could be nuns. She was blind to the inherent misogyny behind the same Church that so many of her female family members had built (we come from a long line of nuns and Jesuits). I thought maybe someday I could be a woman priest. I would change it all. I would be Pope Joan. 

When I was thirteen, I started noticing the wealth involved in the Roman Catholic Church, the opulence of the lived Catholic life. When I asked my parents why the Church did not lead in example and live in poverty using its wealth to actively live the gospel, I was told, “ This wealth is a gift to humanity. It is there for all of us, a patrimony to those who open their hearts.” I wasn’t talking about art, I was talking about the RCC’s gold assets—valued in the billions —but it didn’t matter. I’ve seen my family donate to Church building funds my entire life—buildings that were then sold off to pay for the Church’s offenses later on. Still, I thought if I became more involved, with the “right kind of Catholics”, I would be able to change the Church from within.  Continue reading “You Are What You Read by Martha Cecilia Ovadia”

Pope Francis is Paving the Way to FutureChurch by Gina Messina-Dysert

Gina Messina-Dysert profileThe enthusiasm we have seen for Pope Francis over the last year is exceptional.  Polls show that among American Catholics he has a 90% approval rating.  He has garnered more than 12 million Twitter followers and even broke a Rolling Stones (yes, the rock band!) record by drawing more than three million people to an event in Rio de Janeiro.  Our new pope is a media icon and “The Francis Effect” is commanding the attention of not only Catholics, but the global community.  According to John Allen Jr., it is “take-it-to-the-bank fact” that politicians and celebrities would do just about anything to garner the pope’s poll numbers. There is good reason for this unprecedented attention; in Pope Francis we see the example of Jesus.

Our new pope is connecting with the greater community on the deepest level because he has a sincere commitment to serving the needs of the people rather than the politics of the Vatican. With his first papal act, Francis bowed to a cheering crowd and asked for the people to bless him.   In doing so, he acknowledged the full humanity of every person as well as the necessity of community.  His immediate rejection of the glamour of the papacy and ongoing efforts to walk with the disenfranchised has commanded the world’s attention. Pope Francis’ humility and commitment to social justice is Jesus-like. His willingness to engage the community, not to mention pose for a selfie here and there, demonstrates a ministry focused on the people. Continue reading “Pope Francis is Paving the Way to FutureChurch by Gina Messina-Dysert”

Supporting Gender Equality in the Church Results in Excommunication by Gina Messina-Dysert

Gina Messina-Dysert profileIt is unnerving to think that excommunication is still a real threat in the 21st century. Within both the Catholic and Mormon Churches members continue to be bullied into submission with such threats. Today, speaking out against gender injustice seems to be a sure way for one to end up expelled from her or his community. Kate Kelly, a human rights attorney and Mormon feminist, has become the most recent in a long line to be rebuked for speaking out about gender discrimination and is waiting to learn her fate following a trial by LDS Church leaders. Continue reading “Supporting Gender Equality in the Church Results in Excommunication by Gina Messina-Dysert”

Beyond Hemlines: What a Pope Can Teach Us About Modesty by Deborah Farmer Kris

DeborahPhotoPope Francis’ obvious decency appeals to me as a human.  His discourse and homilies appeal to me as a Christian.

But his humble actions appeal to me as a Mormon woman who is weary of witnessing, over and over, how we culturally misuse the term “modesty” and reduce it to base rules governing the attire of (primarily) teenage girls.

Pope Francis gives me hope for the future of our modesty discourse because in five months, he has somehow managed to make humility and  modesty cool again.

First, let’s look at modesty as discussed in the Catholic Catechism:

  • Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It guides how one looks at others (author note: not how others look at you) and behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their solidarity. Modesty inspires a way of life which makes it possible to resist the allurements of fashion and the pressures of prevailing ideologies. Teaching modesty to children and adolescents means awakening in them respect for the human person. Continue reading “Beyond Hemlines: What a Pope Can Teach Us About Modesty by Deborah Farmer Kris”

Hate Mail and the Privilege of Having a Voice by Gina Messina-Dysert

Gina Messina-Dysert profileThis past week I was honored to have the opportunity to talk with Tavis Smiley on PBS about the resignation of the Pope and the future of the Catholic Church.  Although some have argued that the pope stepping down means little if anything for Catholics, I think this acknowledgment that tradition can change is at least a step in the right direction.  While an end to sexism in the Church is still far off, in the spirit of a feminist ethic of risk, I think we must recognize this step and continue on in the struggle.

What a privilege it was and is to have a platform to share these thoughts.  As a feminist progressive Catholic I have repeatedly received friendly and not so friendly warnings about sharing my beliefs.  In an age characterized as “the New Inquisition,” the Vatican has worked hard to keep individuals like myself from challenging Church teaching.  Any mention of reproductive justice or women’s ordination can quickly lead to one’s livelihood being threatened and the very real possibility of excommunication – just ask Fr. Roy Bourgeois.  That said, we each still have the responsibility to retain our power, refuse to be silent, and use our voices to encourage and create change.    Continue reading “Hate Mail and the Privilege of Having a Voice by Gina Messina-Dysert”

A Sea Change Towards Women’s Ordination by Mary Ellen Robertson

If I see a flaw in contemporary Mormon feminism, it’s that we haven’t ventured outside our own religious community to partner with other religious feminist activists. Working separately or in ignorance of the work already done by other religious feminists, we’re more likely to spend time reinventing the wheel than building upon the lessons learned.

Fortunately, there’s an exciting shift afoot.

Last week, Catholic and Mormon women came together for a dialogue on women’s ordination.
Hosted by Claremont Graduate University, this discussion brought together six women from  patriarchal religions to explore what happens when we call an all-male priesthood into question and examine the theological and cultural assumptions upon which an all-male priesthood rests. Continue reading “A Sea Change Towards Women’s Ordination by Mary Ellen Robertson”

Catholic/Mormon Dialogue on Women’s Ordination

The Catholic/Mormon Dialogue on Women’s Ordination at Claremont Graduate University will take place Wednesday, September 19, 2012.  It is an incredibly relevant topic today and particularly interesting with a Mormon/Catholic presidential ticket before us.

It makes sense to bring Catholics and Mormons together to dialogue about this issue.  Women’s ordination in both Churches is considered a taboo topic and one that if discussed in public can lead to excommunication.  Certainly the women who will stand publicly to address this issue and share their passion and conviction for the need to ordain women are courageous and committed to the recognition of the full humanity of every woman and every man.  Continue reading “Catholic/Mormon Dialogue on Women’s Ordination”

Hijacking the Nuns? by Kate Conmy

When stuck between a vow of obedience and a hard place known as the Vatican, sisterhood may be our only prayer. Since April 18, 2012, the U.S. nuns have been cast into the headlines as the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) released a harsh assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), an umbrella organization, representing 80% of U.S. sisters.  Accused of “radical feminist themes,” “corporate dissent,” and among other things, not taking an official stance on some hot Catholic issues, nuns have become frontrunners of a revolution.

The groundswell of support and solidarity pouring forth from faithful Catholics and the media has been unprecedented by all standards; when the secular feminist website Jezebel is calling for Sr. Simone Campbell , executive director for the Catholic lobby group, NETWORK, for president, the issue has clearly gone beyond the choir. The movement has taken on the adage “we are all nuns,” expressing a shared sense of oppression by the Catholic Church. If the second largest religious domination in the U.S. (10%) is “former Catholic,” then this shared sense of betrayal by the Vatican may not be new, but it has found new energy in the conflict between Rome and the American nuns. Continue reading “Hijacking the Nuns? by Kate Conmy”

The Vatican’s Spiritual Violence Against Women’s Ordination By Rosemary Radford Ruether

The Vatican has adopted what amounts to a “zero tolerance” policy against those Catholics who actively advocate for women’s ordination, particularly against anyone involved in the movement of Roman Catholic Womenpriests which, for the past three years, has ordained thirty-five women in the United States. This movement began in June, 2002, when seven women were ordained by some Catholic bishops in Austria. Later several of these women were ordained bishops by these same bishops. They, in turn, have ordained more women priests. From this has sprung an increasingly organized movement, which is developing the theological vision of church which they hope to generate and are laying down the formal rubrics for education and preparation for ministry of those aspiring to be ordained in their community.

The Vatican summarily excommunicated the initial seven women ordained in 2002. As more women were ordained it was at first silent and then decreed that anyone being ordained in this movement, as well as those supporting it, were automatically excommunicated. This saved them the trouble of addressing each of these women individually. However, they have escalated their campaign against women’s ordination in the last month in response to Maryknoll priest, Father Roy Bourgeois, who on August 9, 2008 in Lexington, Kentucky, concelebrated the mass where long-time friend, Sevre-Duszynska, was ordained. Father Bourgeois also preached the homily at this ordination mass, where he denounced the Church’s refusal to ordain women as a sin comparable to the sin of racism. “Sexism is a sin” he declared. Continue reading “The Vatican’s Spiritual Violence Against Women’s Ordination By Rosemary Radford Ruether”

This is What a Catholic Looks Like By Kate Conmy

The following is a guest post written by Kate Conmy, MA, Membership Coordinator for the Women’s Ordination Conference.  Kate celebrates spiritual activism, feminism, and human rights.  She currently works as the Membership Coordinator for the Women’s Ordination Conference and lives in Washington, DC.  She can be contacted at Kconmy@womensordination.org.

In my last semester as a Religion student at Mount Holyoke College I sat in my Feminist Theology seminar with only one question for our guest speaker: “Why are you still a Catholic?” A question I rarely dared to ask myself as I spent most of my studies concentrating on Buddhism, traveling abroad to Dharamsala, India, interning with the Buddhist Peace Fellowship in Berkeley, even learning Tibetan; by most observable assessments I had swapped the pew I grew up in for a zafu.  But Mary Hunt reminded me in such a simple and smart way that Catholicism is about community building and justice seeking. She said: “This is what a Catholic looks like. We have a responsibility to speak this language.”

In that moment I realized I had been resisting something that has always belonged to me. Raised in a Jesuit-educated Catholic family in Upstate, New York I felt less confirmed within the church, and more convinced that we were celebrating a god that was too small. One of the great mysteries for me growing up in a church-going family was the personal and religious reconciliation the Catholics I knew negotiated, sometimes weekly to make sense of their faith.  The dissonance between what was practiced during Mass, and what Catholicism meant at the dinner table seemed an exhausting spiritual dance of ambivalence.  It wasn’t until I began to identify as a feminist theologian that my spiritual worlds converged in a moment of satori: ambivalence is a virtue!  The sisters and daughters of Mary Daly gave me permission to re-claim my Catholicism with all of my questions as an extraordinary action of faith.  Ambivalence means courageously engaging the sacred to foster critique, conversation and innovation in the pursuit of knowing God. Just as Carter Heyward writes, “To love God is to un-do evil,” I so strongly believe that God must manifest as an expression of creative justice whereby inclusivity, “right-relation,” and the elimination of discrimination are central on the path toward a higher liberation. I graduated feeling empowered by women, activists, and radicals who claimed their faith and the responsibility to speak a language beyond the binary in order to celebrate the wisdom of all human and divine goodness.  Continue reading “This is What a Catholic Looks Like By Kate Conmy”

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