Sunday, March 02, 2008

From the "Consider the Source" Department ...

The Pope
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Rules Out
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Feminist Theology
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By Malcolm Moore in Rome [Telegraph UK]
The Vatican has cracked down on feminist interpretations of the liturgy, ruling that God must always be recognised as Our Father.

In a move designed to counter the spread of gender-neutral phrases, the Holy See said that anyone baptised using alternative terms, such as "Creator", "Redeemer" and "Sanctifier" would have to be re-baptised using the traditional ceremony.

The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith said yesterday: "These variations arise from so-called feminist theology and are an attempt to avoid using the words Father and Son, which are held to be chauvinistic."
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Instead, it said that the traditional form of "Father, Son and Holy Ghost" had to be respected.

The alternative phrases originated in North America and started to become popular only in the past few years.

The new phrases are particularly popular in the Church of England. It was recently reported that guidelines to bishops and priests advised them to avoid "uncritical use of masculine imagery".

The Catholic Church and the Church of England are split over feminist issues.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, and the Pope, met in Rome last year, but admitted that the ordination of women priests was a "serious obstacle" to closer ties.

The Pope, who wrote the latest ruling, has been a strong opponent of feminism in the Catholic Church.

In his book, The Ratzinger Report, he wrote: "I am, in fact, convinced that what feminism promotes in its radical form is no longer the Christianity that we know; it is another religion."

Rosemary Radford Ruether, a professor of feminist theology at the Graduate Theological Union in California, said that among "liberal" Catholics, the Pope "is not our Pope".

The Vatican said anyone baptised under the feminist terms could invalidate their marriage. Cardinal Urbano Navarrete, who wrote a formal commentary on yesterday's ruling, gave warning that anyone who attempted to baptise someone with a gender-neutral form would be penalised. "It is seriously illegitimate and unjust," he said.

Monsignor Antonio Miralles, a professor at the Pontifical Holy Cross University, said the new baptism "subverts faith in the Trinity" because it does not make the relationship between the three persons clear. "God is eternally Father in relation to His only begotten Son, who is not eternally Son except in relation to the Father."

Meanwhile, the Pope also spoke out against gay marriage and abortion before his first trip to the United States before Easter. He praised Americans who respected the "institution of marriage, acknowledged as a stable union between a man and a woman".

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14 comments:

the Reverend boy said...

I find the statement coming out of the See of Rome to be a bit reactionary. What matters is the act and the intent of the act, not as much the words, in my opinion....but the words are important, mind you.

That being said, I personally don't see how "Father Son and Holy Spirit could be seen exclusionary language. The language was what was given to us and I think we should continue to do so. After all, in most Western languages, the the plural masculine form of pronouns are understood to include females as well.

Confining the persons of the Trinity to roles such as "Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier" seems to smack of modalism, reducing the persons to functions and claiming to put the infinite into finite, definite terms. Isn't that what we accuse fundamentalists and conservatives of doing? Our faith is one of relationship, and naming the persons of the Trinity by roles as opposed to personal terms seems a bit unfaithful.

If we were to use gender-neutral personal terms such as "Parent, Begotten, and Spirit" or something similar, I think that is much more closer to the Truth.

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

And just for the record, I do not belong to the "throw the Father out with the bathwater" club ... and we, here at Apostate Heretic Central (AKA All Saints Church, Pasadena) baptize WITH water and IN the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

AND ... if we REALLY think it's the "magic words" that makes the sacrament efficacious, well, then ... that's for another blog.

I'm off to find some Sunday Lunch!

Suzer said...

This liberal heretic tends to prefer "Father, Son and Holy Spirit", and traditional high church liturgy. I cringe when my church changes the words. I'm not against inclusive language, when done well, but often the message seems to get watered down in the inclusive translation, and I think we need to be careful of that.

Oh, and the Pope spoke against abortion and gay marriage -- what else is new? Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) most RCs I know view the Papacy and its edicts as laughable and mostly irrelevant to our times.

DavidJustinLynch said...

The Pope has his role and that of God hopelessly confused. I am glad that I am an Anglo-Catholic and not a Roman-Catholic. That said, I agree with "reverend boy" that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not exclusionary. According to Genesis, God created human beings, both male and female, in the image of God. God is one in three and three in one; therefore, the Trinity includes both genders by definition. Moreover, the gender of the Holy Spirit is not a settled issue. If Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, then the Holy Spirit is masculine; but if one follows the "sophia tradition" then the Holy Spirit is feminine. The gender of the Trinity is an issue for ongoing meditation and scholarship, something that is foreign to the Pope.

Jeff in Mobile said...

Patriarchy is dying, thanks be to God, and the Vatican knows it. Instead of worrying about people dying of preventable diseases in the developing world, the Vatican is concerned about the masculine use of the Trinity. Give me a break. I agree with Susan, I am not for throwing the masculine language out and at the Apostate Heretic Central All Saints Church, Mobile, AL we baptize WITH water IN the name of the Father, Son and Holy Sprirt. However, before preaching sermons our priests to have a habit of saying in the name of the Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier.Amen. There is nothing wrong with this use. Like I said above, patriarchy is dying and thanks be to God for that.

RonF said...

Rosemary Radford Ruether, a professor of feminist theology at the Graduate Theological Union in California, said that among "liberal" Catholics, the Pope "is not our Pope".

Well, if he's not their Pope, then tney're not Roman Catholic. It's kind of a package.

jeff in mobile said:

Instead of worrying about people dying of preventable diseases in the developing world, the Vatican is concerned about the masculine use of the Trinity.

You have evidence that the Vatican isn't worried about the former? You figure that work for both isn't managable?

Jim of L-Town said...

Dear Rev. Russell:

I find it rather curious to say that:
"that among 'liberal; Catholics, the Pope "is not our Pope".
Well, there can't be that many of them because of all the Christian churches in our area, the only one still growing numerically is the RC church.
Sounds like feminist wishful thinking to me.
So, if they don't agree, they certainly aren't voting with their feet.
Since most of us on either side of the Anglican church are not RC's I guess if you want to pounce on patriarchal religions, there are plenty to pounce on.
Islam, being one, for example.

A sinner saved by God's Grace

Jim from Michigan

Jim said...

I suspect that as he never mentions anything like a trinitarian doctrine, that Paul did not baptize using the (appended -- Jesus did not say it) formula. Where his baptisms invalid?

Just curious.

FWIW
jimB

uffda51 said...

I have a friend, a lifelong Catholic, whose Catholic church choir was invited to sing at the Los Angeles Cathedral. He refused to participate because, he told me, if he were ever in the same room as Cardinal Roger Mahoney, he would have to tell him what he thought of him and demand that he resign.

The Catholic hierarchy long ago decided that protecting the sexual predators in their midst was more important than protecting women and children from those predators. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent in this effort that could have been spent doing the Lord’s work. If there is a reason why some Catholics consider this Pope to not be “their” Pope, perhaps this is it.

To cite just one example of how women, children and the poor have born the burden of the patriarchal response to this scandal, three elderly Catholic nuns in Santa Barbara, who work with the poor, were evicted from their longtime home because the archdiocese needed to sell the property to help pay the $660,000,000 owed to the victims of the priests of their diocese. The property will bring in about $700,000. The eviction notice, which was dated June 28 but not received until the end of August, asked the women to vacate the property no later than Dec. 31 -- and noted that an earlier departure "would be acceptable as well." Never mind that a much larger property a few miles away, occupied by ONE (obviously male) priest, was not affected.

The good news is that the three Sisters of Bethany moved last November to St. Mary's Retreat House, an Episcopal center near the Santa Barbara Mission. The center is a ministry of the Sisterhood of the Holy Nativity, an order based in Wisconsin. The invitation from St. Mary’s is open ended.

RonF said...

I have a friend, a lifelong Catholic, whose Catholic church choir was invited to sing at the Los Angeles Cathedral. He refused to participate because, he told me, if he were ever in the same room as Cardinal Roger Mahoney, he would have to tell him what he thought of him and demand that he resign.

I can see that.

The Catholic hierarchy long ago decided that protecting the sexual predators in their midst was more important than protecting women and children from those predators. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent in this effort that could have been spent doing the Lord’s work.

Yup. It seems that there was an "us vs. them" mentality in the Catholic hierarchy.

If there is a reason why some Catholics consider this Pope to not be “their” Pope, perhaps this is it.

Well, now - how much of all of this did the Pope know about? You think the American bishops kept him informed? My guess is that they kept him out of the loop.

Jeff Martinhauk said...

I do get the criticism of Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. Why don't we go to Mother, Daughter, and Holy Spirit? They convey much of the theology of the relationality embedded in the Trinity without the problems of patriarchy...

:)

j

the Reverend boy said...

I realize this is easy for me to say as a male, but I fail to see why using the words naming the persons of the Trinity which were given to us in the NT creates a problem of patriarchy.

Apologies to Jeff if his comment was said tongue-in-cheek....Sometimes it's hard to convey such nuances online.

uffda51 said...

Is it fair to say the Pope knows about the scandal now?

Is there anything preventing him from calling a press conference today to state that, from this day forth, we will fire all our lawyers, release any document requested, settle any claim, and publicly defrock any priest known to have abused any parishioner, or to have participated in any cover-up? Is there anything preventing the Pope from issuing an apology to the victims, at least those still alive, of God’s representatives on earth?

I read in today’s paper that Florida is considering issuing an apology for slavery. We live in hope.

RonF said...

Is there anything preventing him from calling a press conference today to state that, from this day forth, we will fire all our lawyers, release any document requested, settle any claim, and publicly defrock any priest known to have abused any parishioner, or to have participated in any cover-up? Is there anything preventing the Pope from issuing an apology to the victims, at least those still alive, of God’s representatives on earth?

Heck no. He's the Pope. I would guess that he could do whatever he wants. It'd be very instructive to see what level of compliance he'd get out of the American bishops, though, and how tough he'd have to get with them. I wouldn't fire all the lawyers - there are unscrupulous people out there who would make false claims. But overall, making an honest attempt to settle all valid claims would be worthwhile.

But that is after the fact - I would be very surprised if John Paul II knew about this as it was going on.

suzer said:

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) most RCs I know view the Papacy and its edicts as laughable and mostly irrelevant to our times.

What area of the country do you live in, suzer? How representative of RCs in the U.S. do you think the RCs you know are? Out here in Chicago, from what I can see the Pope is taken pretty seriously.