Those are the words of Bridget Mary Meehan, a Womenpriests bishop and former nun when asked in a recent Time interview, why she and others did not just move over to the Episcopal Church which does ordain women. Meehan’s response reflects the conviction of many Catholics who resist giving up active participation in their faith community and the sacraments because a deeply flawed Church bureaucracy continues to see women as subordinate and unworthy of full engagement with the body of Christ. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2019635,00.html
Last Sunday, in the morning light of the Mystical Rose Oratory at Chaminade University in Honolulu, Fr. Bob Bouffier reminded our small congregation that Catholic social teaching is grounded in principles that demand a very clear commitment from each of us to address injustice systemically, not just through random acts of charity. The First Commandment, Fr. Bouffier reminded us, is often abridged to just “Love the Lord Thy God.” But the commandment in its entirety identifies the Lord as “the One who brought you out of slavery in Egypt.”
If the capacity to liberate is how the God we worship defines Himself/Herself, then we too must find ways to be liberators in every sense. We cannot affirm the principle of human equality while insisting that women are unworthy of the priesthood or unable to let their conscience guide their reproductive choices without being policed by men of the world or men of the cloth. We cannot affirm the principle of human equality while denying gays and lesbians the full welcome to which they are entitled as human beings. The first principle in Catholic social teaching –the principle of human dignity—lays the foundation for the ninth principle affirming equality:
“Every human being is created in the image of God and redeemed by Jesus Christ, and therefore is invaluable and worthy of respect as a member of the human family. This is the bedrock principle of Catholic social teaching. Every person—regardless of race, sex, age, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, employment or economic status, health, intelligence, achievement or any other differentiating characteristic—is worthy of respect. It is not what you do or what you have that gives you a claim on respect; it is simply being human that establishes your dignity.”
Fr. William J. Byron, SJ
At a time of over-heated political rhetoric in which public figures invoking God and nation, draw hateful rubbish out of the stewpot of bigotry and ignorance and serve it up to a credulous public in hopes of political gain, these principles of Catholic social teaching could serve as Prilosec for the soul.
Excommunication has been used freely (and unequally) in recent times to reinforce the Church’s position on respect for human life in the womb and women’s place in the Church but not to discipline those who knowingly exposed children to predatory priests. The public would be better served by strong communications from the official Church calling out the glaring misrepresentation of public policies by conspicuously Catholic/Christian politicians and broadcasters who sandwich misinformation between slick assertions of faith, confident that their public piety protects them from censure from the Church. Strong rebuttals from the Church–as strong say, as the Church’s opposition to womenpriests– would help counter the gathering momentum of lies left unchallenged on everything from President Obama’s nationality and faith to healthcare, taxes, immigration and gay rights. It would help ensure that systemic approaches to addressing social injustice have a chance of succeeding. It would help build a body catholic.