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”

BREAKING NEWS: Pope Resigns

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”

Winds of Change in the Roman Catholic Church by Michele Stopera Freyhauf

Michele FreyhaufIn 2007, I had a conversation with a professor who felt that change was in the air for the Roman Catholic Church. The basis of this opinion was based on language. The words and the context used in writings that emerged from the Vatican were changing and somehow different – a difference that went beyond personal writing styles of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. This professor was hopeful that positive change for women could be coming. He was right about change in the Church, however, the changes surrounding women that emerged have not been positive.

As I continue to reflect on these words, I ponder the issue of language; specifically the impact words have and the way they are used to facilitate subtle changes in thinking, opinion, and beliefs. The method of persuasion that seems to be employed is the Aristotelian Rhetorical Theory that utilizes the five canons of rhetoric: invention, organization, style, delivery, and memory.

An example of this can be seen clearly in the changes in the liturgy that occurred last year. First, the teaching comes out with the rationale as to why the liturgy needs to change. From there a discussion, especially through the media, addressing the upcoming modifications are followed by subtle changes in the liturgy beginning with the call – response and the language in the creed. Next, the language of the celebrant began to change. Finally, the full implementation of changes is made with the addition of new gestures or movements. When I discussed the mass changes with a family member, there was an admittance that the changes no longer affect them – the changes were no longer noticeable. Their memory was impacted because the routine is now second nature.

In order to come to grips with the issue of language and the observation of my professor, I wanted to do a cursory review of the writings issued by the Vatican during this period. Admittedly, with a blog post, there is a limitation as to the depth and breadth of information that can be disseminated. It is my hope to eventually complete a thorough review of the modification of language used during Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy. For now, I want to address a few observations.

Continue reading “Winds of Change in the Roman Catholic Church by Michele Stopera Freyhauf”

The Sainthood of Hildegard von Bingen by a Feminist-Friendly Pope? by Cynthia Garrity-Bond

While I celebrate the rise in status of Hildegard to official saint and soon to be Doctor of the Church, I cannot help but be suspicious of the Vatican’s motivations.  One only has to take in the last two months behavior of the CDF, sanctioned by Pope Benedict, to see the real intentions of this papacy—the continued subjugation of all women to clerical authority.

The past month or so has been a very busy time for the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith or CDF and their examination of women. First they (and this includes Pope Benedict XVI) decided American nuns are guilty of the sin of silence by not speaking out on abortion & homosexuality.  Their “radical feminist” ideology of standing with the poor and disenfranchised, while good, is not good enough for the CDF.  The firestorm of solidarity coming from both laity and religious surely caught the Vatican off guard.  Right?  Well, not quite.  This past week the CDF began its investigation of the Girl Scouts for their purported association with the likes of Planned Parenthood and Oxfam.  While both address the needs of the poor, it is the latter and its troubling advocacy for safe sex via condom use that initiated the inquiry. Keep in mine that in 2010 Pope Benedict retracted from his earlier position and bane on condoms, seeing instead their use as a “lesser evil” in the fight against HIV/AIDS.  The CDF angst is that the message of condom use might be too much sex-talk for impressionable young women.  Continue reading “The Sainthood of Hildegard von Bingen by a Feminist-Friendly Pope? by Cynthia Garrity-Bond”

Abuse of Power in the Catholic Church: Undoing Almost Fifty Years of Progress – Part I, by Michele Stopera Freyhauf

“Now the Vatican says that nuns are too interested in “the social Gospel” (which is the Gospel), when they should be more interested in Gospel teachings about abortion and contraception (which do not exist).  Nuns were quick to respond to the AIDS crisis, and to the spiritual needs of gay people—which earned them an earlier rebuke from Rome. They were active in the civil rights movement.  They ran soup kitchens.” —  Roman Catholic Women Priests (via Facebook)

I once had a conversation with my New Testament Professor about the issue of women ordination.  He was optimistic and thought there might be a possibility that change was in the air – that was six years ago.  The basis for his statement had to do with language.  Of the journals and articles read, he felt the language used was more inclusive and that once people adjust to this discrete change in gender inclusive language, change for women in the Church can come.

He was right about change coming.  The result was not equality and ordination for women, but an attempt to silence and force these women back into their habits and cloisters. Continue reading “Abuse of Power in the Catholic Church: Undoing Almost Fifty Years of Progress – Part I, by Michele Stopera Freyhauf”

Hildegard of Bingen to be Canonized and Named Doctor of the Church By Gina Messina-Dysert

Known as the “Sybil of the Rhine,” Hildegard of Bingen was a remarkable woman who produced multiple visionary writings and major theological works throughout her life (1098-1179).  During a time period when women received little respect, Hildegard was consulted by religious and political leaders and advised popes and kings.  Her contributions are many and include founding a convent, composing music, and writing about the medicinal uses of natural objects such as plants, trees, animals, and stones.

It was recently announced that Hildegard of Bingen will be canonized and declared a doctor of the church.  Hearing this I was among the many who were surprised by the news since I had assumed that Hildegard was already canonized, particularly since she has been called St. Hildegard and has had a feast day on September 17th since 1940 (although only within the Benedictine order in Germany).  Nonetheless, I have recognized Hildegard as a crucial woman in Christian history – as crucial as St. Catherine of Siena, St. Teresa of Avila, and St. Therese of Lisieux who have already been canonized.  So why the delay in granting this honor to Hildegard of Bingen? Continue reading “Hildegard of Bingen to be Canonized and Named Doctor of the Church By Gina Messina-Dysert”

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