Why I find pope’s ideas on women priests disturbing

— Pope Francis must call together and listen to women, not only religious but lay women as well

Pope Francis meets a group of women at the end of his weekly general audience at the Paul VI hall in the Vatican on March 2.

by Virginia Saldanha

Recently the Jesuit-run America Magazine interviewed Pope Francis on various topical issues, among them the question regarding what he would say to women who are already serving in the church, but who also feel strongly about the call to be a priest in the Catholic Church. 

Pope Francis reinforces the gender binary by pointing to the Petrine principle which means Jesus chose Peter as head of the Church and 12 male apostles because Jesus our high priest was male!

Pope Francis suggests that women have no place in the Petrine principle.

On the other hand, the Marian principle is a mirror of the Church as a woman and as the spouse of Christ. So, he suggests that women have to be content with being the mirror image of the Church which represents the feminine spouse of Christ — what a convoluted explanation to convey to women that we are an important part of the Catholic Church dominated by men.

“There are numerous articulate and excellent women theologians who have already been speaking of women’s positions in the Church”

As a woman, I do not know whether to laugh or cry at Pope Francis’ suggestion about women’s position in the Church. How can an institution that is ruled solely by men be ‘woman?’  How can such an institution be the ‘spouse’ of Christ?

I wonder if perhaps this theological idea of the Church as a woman and as the spouse of Christ and the male priests as representing Christ could be the root of the sexual abuse of women by clergy.

Pope Francis suggests that women’s place in the Church is a theological problem that needs to be sorted out by coming up with a theology on women.

When Pope Francis says” we need to come up with a theology on women,” does he mean the male leaders come up with a theology of women?

I would like to remind Pope Francis that there are numerous articulate and excellent women theologians who have already been speaking of women’s positions in the Church.

Pope Francis’ reiteration of the Petrine and Marian principles is an indication that he as the leader of the Church has not bothered to read the writings of feminist theologians of the past 50 years.

Feminist scripture scholars have pointed out that Jesus never ever ordained any priests.  The last supper had both men and women present when he said “Do this in memory of me.” Women disciples in the scriptures were Jesus’ most faithful followers.  He even chose a woman to carry the good news of his resurrection to the world.  Would Jesus not want women leaders in the Church?

The third explanation that the pope gives is what he describes as the ‘administrative’ one.

He points out that In the Church there is the ministerial and ecclesial role which is reserved for men. Then there is the administrative role which has so far been dominated by men, but Pope Francis has recently begun opening it up for women’s participation.

He concedes “we have to give more space to women.”

While women appreciate the steps Pope Francis has taken to bring reform in the Church and the Roman Curia, his response to women’s ordination has disturbed a lot of progressive-thinking women and men, especially when he calls it a theological problem.

“Women’s voices have been missing at the decision-making table in the Church”

It is pertinent to note that the theology that Pope Francis has quoted has been articulated by men from a male perspective.

Women entered the field of theology only after the Second Vatican Council.  Since then women have been studying scriptures and interpreting them through a woman’s lens which has brought in new and fresh perspectives that men could never see.

But somehow the Church has not recognized these perspectives nor listened to what women have to say.  Women’s voices keep getting dismissed based on a theology that has not been updated to include women’s thinking about God and how God speaks to women in the context of their lives.

The reason why women need a place at the ‘table’ is that it is only through ordained ministry that one gets to make decisions that affect all in the Church.  Women’s voices have been missing at the decision-making table in the Church.

The forthcoming Synod on Synodality is about listening to the voices of all.  Women in the Church have been the most enthusiastic participants in synodal discussions at the grassroots, but their voice has not been heard, because the male leaders in the Church get to choose whose voice gets heard.

No one can deny that women are the most active participants at the parish and pastoral level of the Church.  Yet women continue to be kept down like the proverbial ‘slaves’ in the Church.  Yet what women all over the world are asking for is active ministerial roles, but they are being dumbed down by theological mansplaining.

Pope Francis has asked that all join the listening sessions. Somehow the bishops chose only those who they feel comfortable with while others are just never listened to. Can Pope Francis find a way to listen to voices from groups that have remained on the peripheries?

If the pope is really serious about fostering a culture of ‘encounter’ and ‘listening’ in the Church, he will call together women, not only religious but lay women as well, and listen to them. Today modern means of communication can easily facilitate this.  May Spirit Sophia continue to work and inspire the Church towards wholeness.

Complete Article HERE!

Catholic Church sex abuse scandal

— Why weren’t newly accused priests on Bay Area bishops’ disclosure lists?

Joey Piscitelli, a member of Northern California SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, middle, speaks outside of St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022.

By John Woolfolk

When Bay Area bishops a few years ago released lists of their clergy found credibly accused of sexually abusing children, they called it a commitment to confronting past failings, a move toward accountability for a colossal scandal that has scarred the Catholic Church for decades.

But the Rev. Elwood Geary’s name wasn’t on any list. Neither was the Rev. Robert Gemmet’s.

The pair of now-deceased priests, who ministered in the South Bay a half-century ago, are now accused of horrific acts in separate lawsuits made possible under a state law that opened a three-year window for abuse claims long after the statute of limitations for such crimes expired. Geary and Gemmet are just two of at least 14 clergy in Northern California – 10 in the Bay Area – who this past week were linked for the first time to the church abuse scandal.

Why they weren’t named before, abuse victims and their advocates say, stems from a shell game church leaders have played with disgraced priests. Dioceses in San Jose, Oakland and Santa Rosa — which Friday announced plans to file for bankruptcy over abuse claims — have identified their own abusive clergy. But their lists may omit offenders from back when those parishes were under the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

And San Francisco still hasn’t released its own list of tarnished priests. Instead, the archdiocese there, headed by the controversial Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, lists only clergy in “good standing.”

“The purpose of these lists is in part to be as transparent as possible in outreach to survivors of those priests,” said Dan McNevin, who received a settlement for abuse by a Fremont priest when he was an altar boy and now is a leader of SNAP, the Survivor Network of those Abused by Priests. “In all of this, there is a deeply disappointing lack of empathy toward survivors and a horrendous lack of accountability.”

The San Francisco Archdiocese, which currently oversees parishes in San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo counties, had said when other Bay Area bishops released their accused clergy lists that it hadn’t made a decision about doing so. But it ultimately decided to do the opposite, creating a list of current priests and deacons “who have faculties to minister here in the Archdiocese.”

“Those with questions about a priest or deacon can refer to this list,” the Archdiocese said in a statement. “The Archdiocese addresses allegations related to lawsuits through appropriate legal channels.”

It added that “any priest under investigation is prohibited from exercising public ministry in accordance with canon law” as well as policies of the Archdiocese and United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

SNAP in September called out Archbishop Cordileone for not releasing a list of credibly accused priests in the Archdiocese, which most U.S. Catholic dioceses and institutions have done, it said. SNAP said its research identified 312 accused priests with ties to the Archdiocese, 229 of whom ministered within its current bounds, and that they believe there are others still unknown.

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone is seen inside Old St. Mary's Church following mass in Nicasio, Calif. on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017. The Archbishop was meeting with parishioners to celebrate the150th Anniversary of Old St. Mary's Church. (Sherry LaVars/Special to Marin Independent Journal)
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone is seen inside Old St. Mary’s Church following mass in Nicasio, Calif. on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017. The Archbishop was meeting with parishioners to celebrate the150th Anniversary of Old St. Mary’s Church.

San Francisco’s and San Jose’s opposite approaches partly explain why Geary and Gemmet had yet to be exposed. The two were linked to South Bay churches that were under the Archdiocese of San Francisco years before the Diocese of San Jose was established in 1981.

Church officials say that timing is why the pair weren’t among San Jose’s updated 2018 list of more than 80 clergy found credibly accused of sexually abusing children.

Cynthia Shaw, spokeswoman for the Diocese of San Jose, said Geary was the founding pastor of Queen of Apostles Parish in San Jose from 1960-1979, and Gemmet ministered at St. Christopher in San Jose and St. Mary in Gilroy in the 1960s and 1970s.

Because both priests “stayed with the Archdiocese when the Diocese of San Jose was formed, the Diocese of San Jose has no personnel files for those men,” Shaw said.

Shaw said that the Diocese of San Jose “stands in solidarity” with abuse victims, offering support to them and their families. It hopes those who have come forward “can begin a process of healing.”

“Every accusation of sexual abuse is significant,” Shaw said, “and one instance of abuse is one too many.”

The Diocese of San Jose said it lists as credible allegations those that are confirmed by the clerics, their religious order or diocese or civil authorities. It also lists those deemed credible by its Independent Review Board and Sensitive Incident Team based on “pertinent and affirming details that would support an allegation against a diocesan clergy within plausible and reasonable means.” The diocese said it “will apply the same methodology to new cases upon their determination.”

The Catholic Church in the U.S. has made significant progress confronting the priest sex abuse scandal that surfaced through lawsuits, police investigations and news reports from the 1980s to early 2000s, adopting a zero-tolerance policy toward abusers known as the Dallas Charter two decades ago.

But it has been dogged for years by criticism from abuse victims that it hasn’t been fully forthcoming. Victim advocates said they were already aware of eleven of the 14 priests named in recent lawsuits, even though the church had not acknowledged them.

McNevin said the San Jose diocese is “hairsplitting when it leaves out names because of an excuse like ‘it was San Francisco then.’”

“This is a classic shuffle,” McNevin said.

A public records database indicates Geary died at age 63 in 1981 in Alameda. In one of the lawsuits, filed in December 2020, a 65-year-old man alleges Geary sexually assaulted him in 1968 when he was 11 years old and a parishioner at Our Lady Queen of Apostles Church in San Jose. The suit accused Geary of “repeatedly touching and fondling” the boy’s “genitals and forcibly performing oral sex on the child.”

According to the San Mateo Times, Gemmet was ordained in 1964 and appointed to St. Timothy Catholic Church in San Mateo. While in the seminary in Menlo Park, he worked with children at day camps in San Francisco and Redwood City and before that taught catechism to kids at St. Simon parish in Los Altos. A public records database indicated he died at age 46 in 1985.

A March 2020 lawsuit brought by another 65-year-old alleges Gemmet began “grooming” him for sexual abuse when he was a 10-year-old altar boy in 1967 at St. Christopher, leading him to believe that the “training process necessarily involved being repeatedly inappropriately sexually touched and violated.” The lawsuit alleged Gemmet threatened that “God would kill” the boy and that he “would have to watch his parents and siblings die, if he told anyone about Gemmet’s inappropriate sexual touching.”

Jeff Anderson points out photos of San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, from left, Oakland Bishop Michael Barber and San Jose Bishop Patrick McGrath during a press conference by Jeff Anderson & Associates law firm in San Francisco, Calif., on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018. The law firm is suing the California Catholic of Bishops and published a report naming 263 priests in the San Jose, Oakland and San Francisco dioceses accused of sexual misconduct involving kids. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)
Jeff Anderson points out photos of San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, from left, Oakland Bishop Michael Barber and San Jose Bishop Patrick McGrath during a press conference by Jeff Anderson & Associates law firm in San Francisco, Calif., on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018. The law firm is suing the California Catholic of Bishops and published a report naming 263 priests in the San Jose, Oakland and San Francisco dioceses accused of sexual misconduct involving kids.

The Diocese of Oakland, established in 1962 and including parishes in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, said it needs time to research allegations against the priests and religious sister newly linked to abuse claims within its bounds. They include John Francis Scanlon in Oakland, Domingos S. Jacques in San Pablo, Benedict Reams in Moraga and Sister M. Rosella McConnell in Berkeley. They were not among the more than 60 clergy the diocese identified as credibly accused in February 2019.

California’s AB 218 law opened a three-year window from 2020 to 2022 during which adults who say they were abused long ago as children are allowed to sue. Attorneys had predicted it would generate thousands of lawsuits against institutions including the Boy Scouts and Catholic Church.

Separately, the California Attorney General has been investigating the handling of priest abuse by the state’s Catholic dioceses, similar to a Pennsylvania attorney general probe that led to devastating 2018 grand jury findings of widespread abuse and coverups. What that may reveal is still unclear.

But Jennifer Stein, a lawyer with Jeff Anderson and Associates, a law firm handling many AB 218 cases, said the Archdiocese of San Francisco’s decision to list only priests in good standing “seems to be an intentional effort to hide knowledge of offenders.”

San Francisco’s Cordileone said in a 2018 letter to parishioners that he had hired outside consultants to review personnel files of some 4,000 clergy dating to 1950, exploring allegations received and how they were handled. He said that would take time but he would report results to the Archdiocese. So far, no report has been forthcoming.

“While I find encouragement in the progress our own church has made,” Cordileone wrote then, “there is still more to be done.”

Complete Article HERE!

Pope Francis accused by Mary McAleese of ‘ludicrous lack of logic’ in comments on women priests

Former president accused Pope of ‘misogynistic drivel’ following interview justifying exclusion of women

Pope Francis mounted an argument that women not entering ministry was not a ‘deprivation’ due to other avenues available to them.

By Patsy McGarry

Pope Francis has been accused of “misogynistic drivel” by the former president of Ireland, Mary McAleese, following an interview with a United States-based Catholic magazine where he said women are not being deprived by being denied the right to become priests.

in an interview with the Jesuit publication America, conducted in the Vatican last month, the Pope said: “The church is more than a ministry. It is the whole people of God. The church is woman. The church is a spouse. Therefore, the dignity of women is mirrored in this way.”

“And why can a woman not enter ordained ministry? It is because the Petrine principle has no place for that,” he said. “That the woman does not enter into the ministerial life is not a deprivation. No. Your place is that which is much more important and which we have yet to develop, the catechesis about women in the way of the Marian principle,” he said.

However, the interview prompted a sharp response from Mrs McAleese. In a short email to the Vatican addressed to the Pope, she said: “It was reassuring and gratifying to observe the utter impenetrability of the reasons you offered, their ludicrous lack of logic or clarity, in short the fact that you offered just more unlikely misogynistic drivel.”

Continuing, she said: “So nothing new then and nothing to fear. Thank you for giving us something to laugh at. If you ever come up with a serious and credible reason please do not hesitate to let us know. Meanwhile keep rambling on. It is such fun and the fun has almost gone out of faith! Best wishes and renewed thanks. Mary McAleese.”

Giving her Roscommon address, she signed the email as Dr Mary McAleese LLB, MA, JCL, JCD, including qualifications in canon law.

Asked in the interview about what he would say to a woman who feels called to be a priest, the Pope said it was “a theological problem.” He said “we amputate the being of the church if we consider only the way of the ministerial dimension of the life of the church. The way is not only (ordained) ministry.”

The “Petrine (from Peter) principle is that of ministry,” he said. “But there is another principle that is still more important, about which we do not speak, that is the Marian principle, which is the principle of femininity in the church, of the woman in the church,” he said.

There was also a third way, “the administrative way,” he said. “It is something of normal administration. And, in this aspect, I believe we have to give more space to women.” At the Vatican “the places where we have put women are functioning better,” he said.

“So there are three principles, two theological and one administrative. The Petrine principle, which is the ministerial dimension, but the church cannot function only with that one. The Marian principle, which is that of the spousal church, the church as spouse, the church as woman. And the administrative principle, which is not theological, but is rather that of administration, about what one does,” he said.

Asked about the abuse issue, he referred to his visit to Ireland in 2018.

“The church takes responsibility for its own sin, and we go forward, sinners, trusting in the mercy of God. When I travel, I generally receive a delegation of victims of abuse.” He recalled “when I was in Ireland, people who had been abused asked for an audience. There were six or seven of them. At the beginning, they were a little angry, and they were right.

“I said to them: `Look, let us do something. Tomorrow, I have to give a homily; why don’t we prepare it together, about this problem?’ And that gave rise to a beautiful phenomenon because what had started as a protest was transformed into something positive and, together, we all created the homily for the next day. That was a positive thing [that happened] in Ireland, one of the most heated situations I have had to face. What should the church do, then? Keep moving forward with seriousness and with shame.”

Complete Article HERE!

Pope Francis ‘Mansplains Why Women Cannot Be Ordained as Priests

— The “Petrine Principle” makes the ministry impossible, but they are excellent administrators

Pope Francis leads the weekly general audience in Paolo VI Hall at the Vatican, 17 August 2022.

by Amanda James

In an interview published in America Magazine today, Pope Francis ‘mansplained why women cannot be ordained as priests, but he emphasized the important role they can play in the life of the Church.

“Many women feel pain because they cannot be ordained priests. What would you say to a woman who is already serving in the life of the Church but who still feels called to be a priest?” asked Kerry Webber, executive editor of the monthly magazine published by the Jesuits of the United States.

Pope Francis explained by referring to two distinct principles: the Petrine and the Marian. “The Petrine principle is that of ministry,” he said. Since this is the principle that guides the Church, it means that women cannot ever be ordained. “But there is another principle that is still more important, about which we do not speak, that is the Marian principle, which is the principle of femininity (femineidad) in the Church, of the woman in the Church, where the Church sees a mirror of herself because she is a woman and a spouse.”

The Petrine Principle, or Theory as it is also called, refers to Christ’s bestowing of the “keys of the Kingdom” on Peter (the first pope, according to Roman Catholic tradition) and partly on Christ’s words: “And I tell you, you are Peter [Greek: Petros], and on this rock [Greek: petra] I will build my church.” It makes no mention of gender or indeed, of ordination, as the Catholic Church had not been founded yet in the time of Jesus and therefore fails to justify the banning of women to ordination.

Reiterating often-cited images of the Church as marriage and women as spouses, Pope Francis hoped to strengthen his argument by pointing out alternatives: “The way is not only [ordained] ministry. The Church is woman. The Church is a spouse. We have not developed a theology of women that reflects this,” Pope Francis said.

“A church with only the Petrine principle would be a church that one would think is reduced to its ministerial dimension, nothing else. But the Church is more than a ministry. It is the whole people of God. The Church is woman. The Church is a spouse. Therefore, the dignity of women is mirrored in this way,” he once again repeated.

“This is an abbreviated explanation, but I wanted to highlight the two theological principles: the Petrine principle and the Marian principle that make up the Church.”

Hoping to mollify anyone who has not yet found the metaphor of women being mere spouses to the Church as satisfactory, the Pope adds that if “the woman does not enter into the ministerial life [it] is not a deprivation. No. Your place is that which is much more important and which we have yet to develop, the catechesis about women in the way of the Marian principle”.

Pope Francis said that in addition to the Petrine and the Marian principles, there is still another function of the Body of Christ that is particularly suited to women: “There is a third way: the administrative way… which is not a theological thing, it is something of normal administration. And, in this aspect, I believe we have to give more space to women,” Pope Francis said.

The Holy Father then pointed to the women he has appointed, noting that women generally do a “better” job managing things.

He praised the women who work in “administration” by inadvertently recalling the long-established image of women as accomplished domestic organizers and managers: “Here in the Vatican, the places where we have put women are functioning better…When a woman enters politics or manages things, generally she does better. Many economists are women, and they are renewing the economy in a constructive way,” he said.

Finally, in a stunning reiteration of the stereotypes that have kept women relegated to the home and the office merely as nurturers or support for men, he stated that, “The woman is a mother and sees the mystery of the Church more clearly than we men. For this reason, the advice of a woman is very important, and the decision of a woman is better.”  And for that reason, she is valued as an “administrator”.

Complete Article HERE!

Catholic bishops face a choice: Pastors or politicians?

In this Friday, May 1, 2020 file photo, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez gives a blessing after leading a brief liturgy at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles. The nation’s Catholic bishops begin their fall annual meeting Monday, Nov. 14, 2022, where they plan to elect new leaders — a vote that may signal whether they want to be more closely aligned with Pope Francis’ agenda or maintain a more formal distance.

by John Kenneth White

The last two years have been tumultuous ones for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. On Inauguration Day 2021, its president, Archbishop Jose Gomez, sent a churlish message to Joe Biden, condemning him for pledging “to pursue certain politics that would advance moral evils and threaten human life and dignity, most seriously in the areas of abortion, contraception, marriage and gender.”

From there, the conference engaged in a prolonged discussion as to whether Biden and other prominent Catholic politicians, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), should be denied communion — a ban that was imposed by Pelosi’s San Francisco archbishop, Salvatore J. Cordileone. After months of debate, the bishops punted on the issue and are currently spending $14 million to promote a National Eucharistic Revival.

With Gomez’s departure this month, the bishops were faced with selecting a new conference president. Over the past year, the Vatican has made it abundantly clear it is displeased with the American bishops and wants them more in alignment with Rome. In October, President Biden visited Pope Francis, and the pontiff went out of his way to call Biden “a good Catholic.”

A few months earlier, Speaker Pelosi and her husband, Paul, had an emotional meeting with the pope where she received a papal blessing and took communion at a Vatican mass. Prior to the bishops casting their votes for a new leader, the papal nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, pointedly reminded them that they were “cum Petro and sub Petro,” translating, “with Peter and under Peter.” He listed what Bishop John Stowe of Lexington, Ky., described as the pope’s “greatest hits,” with an emphasis on the environment, immigration and promoting a greater sense of brotherhood and sisterhood — priorities that Stowe laments the bishops have ignored.

Thirty minutes after Pierre’s remarks, Timothy Broglio was elected as conference president. Broglio is no stranger to the culture wars. As archbishop of the Military Services, he supported a U.S. Air Force chaplain whose homily blamed “effeminate” gay priests for clergy sexual abuse. Broglio has repeatedly claimed that the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandals are “directly related to homosexuality” — a position rejected by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice report, which found that “no single psychological, developmental, or behavioral characteristic differentiated priests who abused minors from those who did not.”

For two years, the worldwide Catholic Church has been engaged in a “synodal process,” a common term used for listening sessions. Repeatedly, the laity have expressed their desire that the church welcome migrants, ethnic minorities, the poor and divorced and remarried couples into its increasingly empty pews.

In its report to the Vatican, the bishops wrote, “Concerns about how to respond to the needs of these diverse groups surfaced in every synthesis.” But it was questions concerning LGBTQ Catholics that were especially troubling to the laity, with “practically all” consultations stating that the lack of welcome contributed to the hemorrhaging of young people from the faith. For his part, Pope Francis has gone to extraordinary lengths to convey his sense of fraternity with gay Catholics. This month, Francis welcomed Fr. James Martin, well-known in the U.S. for his outreach ministry to gay Catholics, to an extraordinary private meeting to discuss his ministry and offer support, previously telling Fr. Martin to “continue this way.”

Addressing the conference, Baltimore Archbishop William Lori, it’s newly elected vice president, said, “We cannot credibly speak in a polarized society as long as our own house is divided.” But like so many other institutions, the Catholic Church has fallen victim to today’s cultural chasms. For some Catholics, the solution lies in a smaller, more homogenous, and culturally conservative church, set apart from a secular world that it so easily condemns, and producing leaders who are willing to wage war with the cultural politics of the moment.

For others, the choice is to be pastoral, listening without condemning and meeting people “where they are.” Pope Francis clearly prefers the latter approach, writing that when “victory consists in eliminating one’s opponents, how is it possible to raise our sights to recognize our neighbors or to help those who have fallen along the way?”

Bishop Stowe laments that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is becoming “more and more irrelevant” to the average Catholic, while other organizations are filling the void — including Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Charities, Caritas and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

Over the past two decades, one thing is clear: The bishops make for lousy politicians. But they could be pretty good pastors. It’s their choice.

Complete Article HERE!