By Bill O’Connor
Rainbow Sash Movement News
The Roman Catholic Family is a Tiger that is beginning to wake out of long slumber. The Vatican and Catholic Bishops have confused the Church with themselves. They have sadly forgotten about the Vatican II Church that calls for its Pope, Cardinals, Bishops, and priests to be servant of the People of God. Ignore or dismissed is the need for unity between the “Teaching Magisterium” and the “Sense of the Faithful”.
A sign of the times is dissention bubbling up from the Church from below. The Vatican and the Bishops are being dismissed. The current atmosphere of descent appears to have been propelled by the current clergy sexual abuse scandal. One of the outcomes of this situation is the visible beating both the Vatican and the Bishops are getting in the cultural wars.
Church experts said it was surprising that the priests would sign a statement in support of the American priest, the Rev. Roy Bourgeois, because he did much more than speak out: he gave the homily and blessed a woman in an illicit ordination ceremony conducted by the group, Roman Catholic Womenpriests. That group claims to have ordained 120 female priests and five bishops worldwide. The Vatican does not recognize the ordinations and has declared the women automatically excommunicated.
More than 157 Roman Catholic priests in the United States have signed the statement in support of a fellow cleric who faces dismissal for participating in a ceremony that purported to ordain a woman as a priest, in defiance of church teaching
Austria is home to many Catholic priests and laypeople seeking changes in the church. Besides calling for ordination for women and married men, the Austrian priests called for having women preach at Mass, and giving Communion to divorced Catholics who have remarried without an annulment. Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, said of the recent priests’ statement there, “The open call to disobedience shocked me.”
In Australia, the church was shaken in May when Pope Benedict XVI removed Bishop William Morris from the Diocese of Toowoomba, where he had served since 1992. The pope wrote the bishop that the teaching barring women’s ordination was “infallible.”
The Vatican had sent Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver (named this week to be the new archbishop for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia) to investigate Bishop Morris.
The National Council of Priests of Australia, which says it represents 40 percent of priests there, denounced the dismissal, saying that those who influenced the decision “have limited pastoral experience.”
The Rev. Ian McGinnity, chairman of the priests council in Australia, said in an e-mail, “Bishop Morris was endeavouring to face honestly significant problems in his rural diocese, particularly with the shortage of priests, which meant that some communities were deprived of the Eucharist on a regular basis.”
Local parish priests are joining lay people in calling into question the not only the leadership of the Church, but also the view of the Church as the Vatican, the Pope, Cardinals, and Bishops as the Church. The Church from below appears to have innate understanding of the Church as the whole “People of God.”
This Vatican the Bishops and their bureaucratic appendages are being held accountable for not only what they say, but also what they do. They can no longer ignore the pastoral consequences of their style of leadership.
The Rainbow Sash Movement is calling for the full inclusion of women of the Church into the priesthood. The time has come for the Pope and Bishops to understand that sexism, no matter is justification, is a sin. It is our hope that the Vatican will recognize that sexism in the Church will only disappear when denied of the passive support of the great middle of the Church’s bureaucracy that are afraid t speak out. We all understand that silence in the face of evil can be deadly. Decent in the Church is definitely becoming the engine of not only dialogue, but change in the Church.