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The Papal Bossa Nova

Welcome to My Green Vermont - A Blog by Eulalia Benejam Cobb.
By Eulalia Benejam Cobb

I wasn\’t particularly moved by the big crowds that cheered you in Rio, Francis, or by the babies you kissed–after all, John Paul II was as popular as a rock star and kissed plenty of third-world babies while telling their mothers that using condoms was a sin.

The dancing bishops did make me smile–they reminded me of those end-of-the-school-year shows put on by first-graders:

But then came the extraordinary press conference on the plane back to Rome, when you said about gay priests, \”If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them?\”

That statement is being deconstructed all over the planet.  Fundamentalists of all denominations will see it as an open door to the kind of relativism that leads souls straight to hell.  Liberals, on the other hand, claim that you didn\’t go far enough.  You didn\’t declare yourself in favor of gay marriage.  You didn\’t contradict your predecessor\’s decrees about the inherent sinfulness of homosexuality.

You didn\’t go far enough for me either.  But the humble tone of that \”who am I to judge?\” was so unexpected, so revolutionary, that it makes me think you might just manage to keep the Church from going down the tubes.

Then you went and said that John Paul II had once and for all closed the doors of the priesthood to women.

You softened that by saying that we do not yet have a deep theology of woman in the Church.  I\’m not sure what that means, but it implies that the theology of woman would be different from the theology of man, and I am suspicious of that.  I know that men and women are different, but the emphasis on those differences, as opposed to the emphasis on their common humanity, has seldom worked to women\’s advantage.  And in the long history of the Church the almost exclusive focus on difference has been disastrous.
You also said that you seek a greater role for women in the Church.  But no matter what else you allow them, as long as women are barred from ordination they will continue to be second-class citizens.

One step forward, two steps back–but this is no time for dancing, Francisco.   It\’s time to march directly towards what is right.

3 Responses

  1. Lala, I enjoyed reading your eloquent words. I, too, was thrilled to read the statement, \”Who am I to judge?\” So often we judge. Whether it's ourselves or others, at least that is my experience. To read that someone so highly regarded by churchgoers said this, cheered my day.

  2. Priests are supposed to be celibate, so I can see why he would not want any kind of sexuality in their case, but when it comes to the population at large, he didn't go far enough, although he did make a nice gesture and maybe that's all he can do for now. I don't understand why women want to be part of a form of religion that really does not honor them or acknowledge them as capable of leadership abilities also. They worship Mary as a saint, but she is only the mother of god, and the rest of womanhood is not to be taken seriously. It is the followers that make the catholic church strong and there are enough women who do.

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