Saturday, December 5, 2015

Catholic Church Fails Equality Test

By Kelly Doss

NOTE: This op-ed was first published November 27, 2015 by the St. Cloud Times.

As I reflect on this season of thankfulness, I am most grateful for the opportunity to be a godparent to my niece and nephew. Being a godparent may seem like an outdated or purely ceremonial role, but I see it differently. It places on me the responsibility, along with their parents, to develop in them a spirituality of interconnectedness with all that God created.

I love my godchildren more than I can say, and that is what prompted me to accept a position on the national board of directors of the Women’s Ordination Conference.

This month marks the 40th anniversary of the Women’s Ordination Conference, the largest national organization to advocate for equality, inclusiveness and accountability in the Roman Catholic Church.

Despite numerous surveys showing a majority of Catholics support women’s ordination, Pope Francis has maintained that “the door is closed” to discussing the topic and those who dare defy that mandate may suffer the consequences, including excommunication.

A few days prior to the pope’s recent visit to the United States, WOC hosted a global conference in Philadelphia, with nearly 500 men and women from 19 different countries in attendance, to support the cause of women’s ordination. It sends a message to the hierarchy that we are not the silent majority.

Women’s equality is not a radical concept. It is part of the equation that creates balance and harmony in this world. Despite reports by United Nations councils, recommendations by experts and theologians, and the voices of the people, the Catholic hierarchy chooses to remain oblivious to the maladies created by gender inequality. Among so many other things, it perpetuates psychological violence.

Authoritative sources like religious leaders have a powerful influence on the creation of our reality. By implying that women are unworthy to stand at the altar and by using non-inclusive language, the church is giving permission to all of society to degrade the female person.

I am astonished at the unwillingness of those in power to see that connection.

Perhaps that is the key word — power.

Considering recent discoveries in historical research now contest the church’s claim of “tradition” being the reason for the ordination ban, one must seriously question if it is rather due to the hierarchy’s irrational fear of sharing power with a woman. In reviewing the church’s record, I am of the opinion that sexism is indeed the “original sin.”

In a written statement to the Diocese, I declared I am withholding financial support as long as sexism persists in the church — as in no way, shape or form does sexism contribute to the betterment of humanity.

I would rather my godchildren experience a faith based on the Gospel values of love, compassion and equality instead of patriarchal dogmas and doctrines. I will teach my nephew that true love for the female person means seeing her as his equal, and I will teach my niece that her worth is not defined by the male-contrived concept of “feminine genius.”

Thankfully there are organizations like WOC that reinforce these values.

While the opposition has tried to extinguish the spirit of Vatican II, many have raised their voices, willing to sacrifice their careers and membership in their communities for the sake of justice. Intimidation does not bind all people to silence; some fight back. If the male-only clergy are not bound by fear, I challenge them to offer a public response to this question: What would Jesus find so offensive about a woman offering remembrance of him to God?

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