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Image sacred to indigenous vandalized

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In connection with Pope Francis’ synod of bishops for the Amazon, indigenous people of the Amazon brought sacred symbols to the Vatican for a prayer service. One was the figure of a pregnant woman, which triggered conservative outcry on the Internet. Vandals stole the figure and threw it into the Tiber River.

The NCR editorial relating this story decried racism in the conservative outcry and vandalism. But I see more. This could not have happened if the Catholic Church accepted God as Mother and prayed to Her.

The indigenous people of Latin America revere the Divine Mother regardless of Church doctrine’s careful distinction—only Father and Son are divine, Mother Mary is not.

Latins prefer Mother Mary to Father anyway, continuing indigenous worship that preceded the arrival of Europeans. Goddesses were popular in South America long before Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego. Her garb, mysteriously imprinted on his cloak, is that of an Aztec Goddess.

One outcome of the Amazon …

Apathy over sexist God-talk 2

I’m not done writing about sexist God-talk—“He Him His Father Son Lord”—because its damage to people disturbs me. I aim to raise awareness of it so that more Christians resist praying to lords in church and replace the word “Lord” with inclusive terms. I replace “Lord” with “God” because I can think “God-She,” but a lord is always male and always authoritarian.

The constant drumbeat of “Lord Lord Lord” in churches has a subtle effect. It conditions churchgoers to assume that male top-down power is natural, normal, proper, and right.
During funerals in my home-town parish I cringe when I hear intercessions end with “we pray to the Lord,” and the congregation immediately answers, “Lord, hear our prayer.” I feel like shouting, “Get that damn lord out of our prayers.”

Although that repetitious “Lord” lording over every prayer and song spoils church for me, I don’t want to stop participating in church services because I value my ties with church people.

The issue is not only fairness—the i…

Apathy over sexist God-talk

When I was growing up, we drove to Sauk Centre for the Stearns County fair where we exhibited as 4-H members. As I grew a little older, I learned that on the other side of town was a reformatory for girl juvenile delinquents. I had no idea.

A book review in the StarTribune on Sunday was written by someone whose grandmother was born in the Minnesota Home School for Girls in Sauk Centre. Girls were committed there until age 21 because they were pregnant or ran away from home or were “incorrigible.” Girls as young as 8 were in the Home to be “reformed.”

School officials bragged that the girls were happy to be learning domestic arts. The high number of escapes put the lie to this boast. One resident’s poem began, “I live in a house called torture and pain, it’s made of material called sorrow and shame.”

Lisa Pasko, a criminology professor at the University of Denver, said about two-thirds of girls sent to juvenile facilities had experienced sexual violence. From other studies I suspect th…

Reader response

E.  thanked me for the previous post, An old story, and said she appreciates my last statement: While l press for women’s ordination, I’m not anxious about it, because time is on the side of the women.  The longer the official CC delays, the less relevance it will have in real life.  Its institutional structure will crumble. That sustains me and gives me hope!Peace.
I replied, I'm pleased, surprised, and also not surprised that a professed religious can think this way.  It tells me I'm right when I tell people they'd be surprised by how much their most progressive views are also represented among religious sisters.
E: Oh Jeanette, There are quite a few of us who believe that the institutional CC needs a lot of reform…and openness.
Given thatreligious communities have also had their share of decadence, reform and ongoing need for reform, we tend to be patient … at least outwardly. But we do pray … and sometimes act … for a more gospel-like CC.
Jeanette: I knew many of you w…

An old story

Women doing the real work but not recognized.What’s new? Preparations for a Catholic synod of bishops from the Amazon posed another version of the story.
Conservatives objected to suggestions for ways the Church could meet the vast needs of people threatened by ecological destruction in the Amazon basin. The document opened for consideration ordaining married priests and . . .     What did it say about women? It suggested identifying “the type of official ministry that can be conferred on women, taking into account the central role they play today in the Church in the Amazon."  A timid approach to women’s ordination. Official ministers in the Catholic Church are ordained—the only true and sure way for women to continue the work they already are doing.
But U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke said he would undertake a 40-day "crusade of prayer and fasting" in hopes that the synod’s document would not be approved because it contains "theological errors and heresies."I …

Richard Rohr reflection

When I read or hear Richard Rohr, I am reassured. If this beloved and renowned Franciscan can say what he says, I belong where I am—in the Catholic Church, challenging its damaging teaching. He calls his theology “alternative orthodoxy.” That’s what I can call my set of beliefs. Rohr takes issue with the belief in original sin, taught to Christians since before medieval times.
I agree with Rohr that everybody is born with divinity inside her- or himself; we are not born with a sin that needs to be erased. When I was studying theology for a Master’s degree, the pronouncements of theologians who assumed people are born with original sin repelled me. Anselm of Canterbury’s interpretation seemed the most outrageous.
To vent my scorn, I translated his ideas into a tragicomedy, a medieval drama with a cast of three: The feudal LORD-GOD who collects payments of honor, MAN who was created to give honor to LORD-GOD, and GOD-MAN JESUS.
In the beginning, MAN dishonors LORD-GOD by sinning. He…

Morally bankrupt hierarchy

Religion and politics are intertwined. Religion is not the same as spirituality, particularly if we’re talking about institutional religion.
The political structure of the Catholic Church works against spiritual goals that should be the main concerns of religion—kindness, fairness, and compassion. Instead, Catholic hierarchy wants to tell people what to believe and what to do. It wants to judge what’s good and what’s sinful.
Pope Francis’ dislike of judging sins and his focus on loving kindness do not sit well with Catholic conservatives, who flourished under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. They have veered further right since then. I believe Benedict resigned because he realized he could not fix financial and sexual corruption rampant in Church hierarchy. Pope Frances was voted in to reform it, but he receives steady pressure from right-wingers.
The extreme right is led by Cardinal Raymond Burke, who claims to know the “authentic” teachings of the Catholic Church. His anti-Fr…