If you haven't read it you'll want to. All of it. Here. But for the purposes of this blog, here's how it starts:
When I was in Saudi Arabia, I had tea and sweets with a group of educated and sophisticated young professional women.Dowd goes on to make some important points about how "negating women is at the heart of the church’s hideous — and criminal — indifference to the welfare of boys and girls in its priests’ care" and I couldn't agree more. In fact, I was reading along thinking how grateful I am for all the hard work that has been done in my own church -- The Episcopal Church -- through clergy misconduct training and creating dramatic changes in the climate of transparency and accountablity to protect the most vulnerable.
I asked why they were not more upset about living in a country where women’s rights were strangled, an inbred and autocratic state more like an archaic men’s club than a modern nation. They told me, somewhat defensively, that the kingdom was moving at its own pace, glacial as that seemed to outsiders.
How could such spirited women, smart and successful on every other level, acquiesce in their own subordination?
I was puzzling over that one when it hit me: As a Catholic woman, I was doing the same thing.
And then I got to this part:
As the longtime Vatican enforcer, the archconservative Ratzinger — now Pope Benedict XVI — moved avidly to persecute dissenters. But with molesters, he was plodding and even merciful ... As in so many other cases, the primary concern seemed to be shielding the church. Chillingly, outrageously, the future pope told [an] Oakland bishop to consider the “good of the universal church” before granting the priest’s own request to give up the collar.Outrageous, I thought. Shocking. IMAGINE choosing the institutional church over an incarnational member of the Body of Christ.
Like Maureen Dowd, I wondered, "How could anyone put up with that from their church?"
And then, like Maureen Dowd it hit me: There are those who would have my church -- The Episcopal Church -- do the same thing.
Exhibit A: This letter from the Diocese of Virginia -- explaining why they declined to the consent to the election of Mary Glasspool as a bishop for Los Angeles:
The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Virginia has declined to consent to the election of the Rev. Canon Mary Douglas Glasspool as bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Los Angeles because, in the view of a majority of the Committee, her election is inconsistent with the moratorium agreed to by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. That majority believes that, at this time, failure by individual dioceses to respect the Church's agreement to the moratorium would be detrimental to the good order of our Church and bring into question its reliability as an institution. The committee found no other reason to withhold its consent to the election of Canon Glasspool.The "order of the church" trumped the qualifications of the candidate. And the beat goes on.
Is there a difference between failing to consent to the election of a bishop suffragan and failing to protect children from pedophile priests? Of course there is.
But whenever we elevate the institutional church and its order, power and privilege over the Gospel call to embrace all God's beloved we compromise the high calling we've been given as the Body of Christ on earth. Ignoring pedophilia is a shocking abdication of our vocation as Christians. So is ignoring homophobia. And misogyny. And racism.
Anytime we choose the instititution (the structure of the church) over the incarnation (the members of our human family created in the image of God) we fall short of who God is calling us to be.
And that, my brothers and sisters, isn't just a shame. It's a sin.