Duas cartas que recebemos do WOW, Women's Ordination Worldwide
Feast of St. Augustine, 2017
Dear Pope Francis,
I hope you that are well and that your officials let you receive this letter. I pray for you. Your obvious concern for the poor, for the environ-ment, and for reform in our church is more than wonderful.
Enclosed again are two letters about the ordination of women: the first is sent to each member of the Council of Cardinals with whom you are soon meeting; the second is a letter for background that I mailed to all the ordinaries of the United States at the beginning of Lent in 2014.
When you talked about the need for honest dialogue on the issues that we face as a church, it was initially heartening. You kept insisting: “dialogue, dialogue, dialogue.” In fact, you said: “dialogue fearlessly.”
Unfortunately, however, there is not now, nor has there ever been, fearless dialogue—let alone anything gender inclusive—on the ordination of women, even though this issue is arguably the one most crucial.
In your care for God’s people, can the collaboration between bishops and theologians at Vatican II be a model? As our Supreme Bridge Builder can you empower an up-to-date synodal dialogue now so tragically absent and so desperately needed?
How can our church be whole if women are “not fully in the likeness of Jesus”? Not to affirm the body-and-soul wholeness of women—leaving their integrity ignored, disparaged, and denied—is a crushing injustice that stifles the Spirit and gives a lie to the Good News.
Is it wrong to hope that our ecclesial structures—crumbling in stone yet so powerfully ensconced in patriarchal privilege—can come to embrace an intelligent view of gender? Is it possible to see that integrity and mutuality are embodied by grown women as well as grown men?
Pope Francis, can the Vatican’s understanding of women finally take a centuries-leap forward? Can justice and mercy actually wed?
John J. Shea, O.S.A.
Copy: Each Member of the Council of Cardinals
Feast of St. Augustine, 2017
Dear Cardinal Parolin,
I am writing again to you and to each of the members of the Council of Cardinals to ask you to directly address in your September meeting the church’s ongoing decision to see women as lacking the body-and- soul integrity to be ordained to the priesthood. This is a critical issue of structural reform—ecclesia semper reformanda. It radically warps our church’s identity and painfully cripples its mission in the world.
Of all the things that Pope Francis has said and done, the way he opened the Synod on the Family in 2014 was perhaps the most extraor-dinary. He asked the bishops to speak “freely,” “boldly,” and “without fear.” This exhortation is quite shocking: he had to ask his fellow bish-ops—grown men and the church’s teachers—to speak honestly to each other. Given a church so incredibly challenged by dialogue, however, his exhortation was not only necessary but was, at lease at the time, some small sign of hope.
If you believe that the ordination of women to the priesthood is vital for the integrity, the mutuality, the maturity, and the viability of our church, I ask you to speak freely, boldly, and without fear.
If you know from your own experience that any given woman is as religiously mature and able to provide pastoral care as any given man, I ask you to speak freely, boldly, and without fear.
If you find there is nothing in Scripture or tradition that that pre-cludes the ordination of women to the priesthood, I ask you to speak freely, boldly, and without fear.
If seeing women and men through a complementarity lens or in light of precious patriarchal symbolism is not ad rem to women’s worthi-ness of ordination, I ask you to speak freely, boldly, and without fear.
If you find the 1994 letter, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis: 1) was the fruit not of dialogue but of doctrinal fiat; 2) was written directly in the face of—and arguably to cut off—serious scriptural-theological dialogue actu-ally taking place; and 3) then mandated that no dialogue—let alone any-thing fearless or gender-inclusive—is allowed going forward, I ask you to speak freely, boldly, and without fear.
If you see that the letter, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, is an historical in-terpretation of ordination rather than one that is theological, I ask you to speak freely, boldly, and without fear.
If the theological explanation actually put forth by the Vatican in the 1970s and 1980s—that women cannot be ordained because they are “not fully in the likeness of Jesus”—would be silly if it were it not so he-retical, I ask you to speak freely, boldly, and without fear.
If seeing women fully created in the image and likeness of God does not mean that they are fully created in the image and likeness of Jesus—if such Trinitarian theology is puzzling, incongruous, or totally bizarre—I ask you to speak freely, boldly, and without fear.
If the church’s current stance effectively undermines the Three-in-Oneness of our God—if a huge patriarchal beam is stuck in the church’s eye, worshipping the Father as genetically male, the Son as genetically male, and, of course, the Holy Spirit as genetically male—I ask you to speak freely, boldly, and without fear.
If you are concerned about the adult faithful leaving the church in droves because women are not worthy of priesthood—if you understand that “a patriarchal Jesus” severs the roots of inclusion, respect, and trust in the church—I ask you to speak freely, boldly, and without fear.
If it is clear that the church’s opposition to the ordination of women is taken—inside and outside the church—as affirming women’s inferiority and justifying domestic violence, infanticide, trafficking, and many other atrocities, I ask you to speak freely, boldly, and without fear.
If you want bishops to work now in a synodal way with theologians and the faithful—under the aegis of a genderless Spirit—to affirm the body-and-soul integrity of women and to heal our stammering, stolid, and sexist church, I ask you to speak freely, boldly, and without fear.
Cardinal Parolin, how long will this temporizing go on? Is injustice to women to cripple the Christian message forever? Like the reformation of inclusion in the infant church, can you and the other bishops see, hear, and name what Pope Francis cannot see, hear, and name? Will you speak freely? Will you dialogue boldly and without fear?
John J. Shea, O.S.A.
Copy: Pope Francis