Mary's Boy Child Jesus Christ
|"Christ in the House of Mary and Martha", c.1654-1655, by Jan Vermeer.|
My doctor, a Canadian of Greek heritage like moi, has a lot of Greek-speaking patients. A couple of months ago, I was sitting in his waiting room, waiting, waiting, waiting, with my head buried in a magazine.
Also there were two men and two women jabbering away in Greek. I paid no attention until one of the men started railing against the Greek Orthodox Church and its regressive ways. The other man, backed by the Greek chorus of the two women, were not only defending the Church but also condemning the first man for having the audacity to attack it. Wasn't he ashamed?
Which is when I quietly spoke up, knocking them off their chairs because (1) I don't ''look Greek'' to most Greeks here who tend to be shorter in stature and darker of complexion, and (2) I backed the man attacking the Church, citing Biblical chapter and verse of what was wrong with it.
The second man called me a ''putana'' (whore) for my criticisms while the women became increasingly uncomfortable. I laughed at him and said his reaction was to be expected from a sexist Greek man who leans on the Church to oppress women.
After the men went in to see the doctor, I turned to the women -- who, incidentally, were not with the men -- and asked what had the Church done for them lately. Were they able to become priests? Were their daughters allowed to be altar girls? Were they allowed to take communion while menstruating? Weren't they at all concerned that, in the 21st century, the Church they so venerated was acting as it it were in the first?
And, last but not least, did they not believe that Jesus had more respect for women -- from his Mother Mary to Mary Magdalene and on -- than the priests do? After all, weren't the women his messengers when he was resurrected?
The women in the waiting room had no answers. They knew I was right.
So anyway, that's my introduction to today's treeware column -- triggered by last week's Vatican edict against women priests -- which has the mail, mostly positive, pouring in. This latest decree has it that not only would women priests be excommunicated, but also the bishops who ordain them. Here's an excerpt, with some links:
Monsignor Angelo Amato of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said the Vatican "does not feel authorized to change the will of its founder Jesus Christ."
As for women, doesn't the Bible say: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus?" (Galatians 3:28)
Clearly, some are more one-with-the-Lord than others.
And yet there is plenty of theological research arguing that Jesus included women among his disciples. Plus, according to the comprehensive WomenPriests.org, most Catholic scholars agree with the ordination of women on the grounds that's there's a historical foundation for it.
For example, the Last Supper, in fact a Passover Seder, would have, as a matter of course, included the women who prepared it. It was there that Jesus established the Apostles as priests, and there is nothing to indicate that he shut women out.
Another example: There's a documented trail of names of female deacons, dating back to the Church's beginnings and continuing through some 900 years.
Nay, verily I say unto you, there is no case at all to be made for Jesus Christ being as sexist as the Church would have us believe. All indications are the opposite: he was far more feminist than the society to which he preached.
But papal bull finds otherwise.
Here is a release by one pro-female priest organization:
The Women's Ordination Conference is outraged by yesterday’s Vatican decree, which reminds Catholic women once again of the animosity they face from the hierarchy, despite being the backbone of most Catholic parishes throughout the world.
Out of fear of the growing numbers of ordained women and the overwhelming support they are receiving, the Vatican is trying to preserve what little power they have left by attempting to extinguish the widespread call for women’s equality in the church. It will not work. In the face of one closed door after another, Catholic women will continue to make a way when there is none.
We reject the notion of excommunication. In our efforts to ordain women into an inclusive and accountable Roman Catholic Church, we see it as contrary to the gospel itself to excommunicate people who are doing good works and responding to injustice and the needs of their communities. While the hierarchy prattles on about excommunication, Catholic women are working for justice and making a positive difference in the world.
Yeah Girls. They'll take your babymaking, your charitable work and your pie-baking but leave the peacemaking and preaching to the men.