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Theresa Kane’s message to Pope Francis: Eradicate Scandal of Gender Inequality!

September 21, 2015 , Moideen Puthenchira

theresa titlePope Francis, the super star in the eyes of the global media will be touching down on the US soil for the first time on Sept.22nd at Joint Base Andrews Airport. On 23rd he will be in Washington for reception at White house and canonization of Junipera Serra at the Basilica shrine of Immaculate conception, on 24th in New York to address the United States joint session ofCongress, on 25th to address the UN in NY again, on 26th in Philadelphia to visit the Independence Hall and on 27th evening 4pm for the Mass concluding the World Congress of Families in Philadelphia and depart for Rome by 8 pm.

Ahead of all these mind boggling and eye catching global events comes the article by Thomas C Fox in the Sept.17 issue of National Catholic Reporter on Sr. Kane,(see photo above) who 36 years ago made a spirited appeal to the then Pope John Paul 2ndand repeats it now to Pope Francis with renewed vigor, force and grey maturity. She bases her argument on the Catholic Church which claims to be the role model of an all-inclusive church that does justice to the demands of equality in a scandalously divided unequal world relentlessly fighting for power, positon, possession, pelf and domination.

photoThe title of equally or more famous Sr.Joan Chittister at the first world conference of Women’s ordination in the Catholic Church in Dublin 2001, which this scribe attended, also was: “Preaching Equality and Practicing Inequality” in the Catholic church. In addition, fourteen Indian sisters (a theological group), also had sent a letter to Pope John Paul, addressing him in substance as elder brother, pleading for women’s ordination and admitting in concluding paras that toddy’s exaggerated hue and cry for women’s ordination is practically a fight for gender equality and equal opportunity in a male dominated Patriarchal church or a “Holy Father Church,” derogately or demandingly labelled by some.

This last point assumes greater relevance especially today when the number of theologians who argue that there is no biblical basis for the very Priesthood as something very great like a pie in the sky unreachable only for the women folk. This group argue and ask: How could Jesus the bitterest enemy of the priestly class institute a hierarchical priestly class and become one of them, and proclaim at the same time, His was and is to be a “foot-washing ministry” by the very act of washing the feet of his disciples?

Let that discussion go on. Sr. Kane today is praying and pleading definitely for zero tolerance of inequality in the Church. Fortunately for her and for us, Kene is appealing to Francis, who is the first Pope to shout out: Inequality in the Church is the greatest sin crying for retribution. He is also the one who demanded from a youngster in a telephone conversation: “Call me “you” (tu, in Italian) and not Holiness or Excellency, because the apostles didn’t use such honorific titles addressing Jesus.
Simultaneously, it may be recalled that Francis is also reported as saying, women’s ordination is not open for discussion for the moment at least and the subdued reaction from many quarters: “Is there anything under the sun not opened for discussion?” Didn’t Francis wax eloquent on good, great and exemplary men among atheists and condemn those who waged bloody wars in God’s name while saying in the same breath: “Mine is not a Catholic God!”

What we have before us is an unpredictable fallible (not infallible) Pope who is quick to admit, “I have made a mistake” when he makes one, as well as one who believes in a “God of surprises” whose actual name is “Mercy” compassion, forgiveness, who is never tired of forgiving, it is we who are tired of asking His forgiveness. “Who am I to judge, if a homosexual seeks God?” So don’t fault his concept of God, change your concept.

Listen for example to Pope Francis says: “It is not necessary s outdated. One can be spiritual but not religious. It is not necessary to go to church and give money – for many nature can be a church. Some of the best people in history did not believe in God while some of the worst deeds were done in His name.”

To come back to the main theme of Sr. Kane’s appeal for women’s ordination, the following is the full text of her “message to Pope Francis in Philadelphia” published in the NCR:

Appeal for Women’s Ordination

“ Pope Francis, although your formal titles are Holy Father and Supreme Pontiff, I take this sacred opportunity to greet you as a brother, a friend, a collaborator in our service to and with God and with others.

I have no doubt your many years in Argentina engaged with the many economically poor people has been a powerful source of strength and grace. Those experiences prepared you to be noted for our deep pastoral spirit, your desire for collegiality and your vision that all of us in the Catholic community are called to be holy — to be saints!

I am a Catholic woman, a woman religious, a Sister of Mercy, born and raised in the United States, New York City. Through both education and life experiences, I have come to a conviction that anything less than all women in the Catholic community having the possibility of being in all ministries of our church is not only a deficit, not only wrong; it is a scandal to our church and to our world.

For a long time I have believed the Catholic community might serve as a role model and an instrument of reform for governments and religions throughout our world that allow and even legislate that women are less than fully human; that women are objects to be exploited; that it isacceptable and even at times believed natural to violate, to beat and abuse women physically, psychologically and sexually.

For the Catholic church to be agents of God’s message to our 21st century, we need to have a vision that the degradation of women worldwide, in all countries of our planet, is the primary, root issue of social and religious violence and not of God.

X ‘ We as a Catholic community are called to proclaim fully and lovingly to our entire planet community that such scandalous beliefs and actions of gender inequality are forms and expressions of idolatry. When idolatry is present God is not in our midst. We need to bring a loving, caring, creative God into the center of our everyday lives by eradicating all forms of gender inequality. Only then will God as Companion, as Mother, Father, as our Divine Source of grace be present in our world.

I urge you, Pope Francis, to listen to the women of our church and world who cry out in anguish as women throughout the ages have done. Only radical (at its roots) gender equality in church and in society will begin to diminish the violence, hatred and other forms of inhumanity in our world today.”

Thirty-six years later, Kane’s leadership is no less stunning.

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