"Anonymous People at the Switching Points
Denver's Mile High Stadium crowded with an estimated 100,000 young people attending the Holy Father's World Youth Day event, August 12-15, 1993 was the setting for a special Stations of the Cross devotion, Friday, August 13. The prayer meditation for each station written by Mother Teresa was read by her sisters, the Missionaries of Charity, while His Eminence Eduardo Cardinal Pironio, Prefect of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, walked behind students carrying a wooden cross. A professional mime troupe, Fountain Square Fools by name, pantomimed each Station. To the consternation of many in the stadium and watching on EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network) the role of Christ was played by a young woman.
This is not to be considered an isolated incident. Rather, it should be viewed as the climax in a series of carefully staged events calculated to impress upon Pope John Paul II, the strength of the radical feminist movement in the United States. The initiative for "alternative events during the Pope's attendance at World Youth Day" was "first proposed at the 1992 Call To Action conference" in Chicago. The coordinating group Catholic Organization for Renewal (COR) was a coalition chaired by Chicago Call To Action. Its Denver activities included a news conference, an Issues Forum and press briefings to present their "disagreement with papal teaching especially birth control, the ordination of women, a married priesthood and the rights of gay and lesbian persons." (Churchwatch, Oct-Nov 1993, Quarterly published by Chicago Call To Action.) The Sept-Oct 1993 Call To Action Spirituality/Justice Reprint featured a photo of an ecumenical communion service held Aug. 14 "in a packed Presbyterian Church." The "presider and preacher was a woman, a Bishop of the First Methodist Church." On either side "representing Catholic women who seek ordination" were Ruth Fitzpatrick and Loretto Sister Ann Schum of the Women's Ordination Conference (WOC).
WOC is a member of COR along with the Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church, Catholics For a Free Choice, Catholics Speak Out, CORPUS - national association for married priests, Conference of Catholic Lesbians, Dignity USA, Lesbian Catholics Witnessing for Change, National Coalition of American Nuns, New Ways Ministry, Pax Christi Maine and the founding Call To Action, the coordinator.
The COR "alternative events" had no connection with official World Youth Day activities. But the presentation of the Stations of the Cross in a flood-lighted stadium was one of the special features on the official program. And according to their Director, the mime performers had been asked to participate by the World Youth Day organizers. (Rocky Mountain News, Aug. 15, 1993)
This suggests the probability the mime troupe was known to some bureaucrats in the liberal American church. Suffice to say, the Fountain Square Fools had performed at the Second Annual Conference of the Leadership Council of Catholic Laity (LCCL) in January 1990. LCCL maintains contact with the NCCB Secretariat on the Laity and Family Life whose director is Dolores Leckey (for detailed documentation on its formation see Forum Quarterly "Networking for a 'Lay-Centered Church'," Vol. VI, no. 3-4)
In February that same year, 1990, a man and woman associated with this mime troupe gave a presentation at the Chicago Call To Action conference. That conference theme "Creation Spirituality: Renewing Ourselves, Our Planet and Our Church" was in substance a special tribute to long-time friend Matthew Fox 0.P. This, his first appearance following the Vatican imposed silence incurred by his unbending attitude on "creation-centered spirituality" attracted 1700 Call To Action admirers.
For their part in this tribute, the Fountain Square team "using music, dance and movement led the participants through the four Paths of Creation Spirituality." Their focus was on the "thinking of the fourteenth century Rhineland mystic Meister Eckhart," for whom Fox had expressed admiration as a " 'mystic of the left' and philosophical predecessor of Karl Marx..." (Ungodly Rage, by Donna Steichen, Ignatius Press 1991, p. 22).
The woman, Tris Thompson, an actress, writer an religious educator had been associated with these performers for some time. Significantly she was the principal author of a feminization of the parable of Lazarus and the rich man (Lk. 16: 19-31) which indicate beyond question the orientation of the Fountai Square Fools engaged for the Station of the Cross. The thrust of this mime production titled "Lazara' is set forth in comments provided by 1) the director Bill Cain, S.J., and 2) the author Tris Thompson ths appear with the script published again that same year 1990 by GIA Publications, Chicago, Illinois.
It is not surprising then, to have the author playing the role of Lazara, pantomime her death and arrival in heaven, where bowing before God she begins to pray "Our Father who art. . . UUUUHHHH! MOTHER!" And "God and her sister Lazara embrace."
What Of This Troupe
They came into being in 1975 under the direction of Rev. J. Michael Sparough, S.J., and in 1980 "were offered a permanent home in the undercroft of St. Xavier Church in downtown Cincinnati" near the Fountain Square. They have traveled extensively in the United States, Canada, England, Ireland and Wales performing for churches, synagogues, universities and schools "as an ecumenical experiment." The Jesuit Father director describes them as "theater artists in service to the Word of God." He explains: "People are hungry for the Word of God, in our age and in every age, but they need to experience that Word dressed in clothes suitable to their culture."
The director would have the Word of God conform to the current cultural climate - in this instance to the feminization of God. This distortion of Sacred Scripture is ideologically motivated to lend stature to the radical feminist movement and credibility to the heterodox opinions of dissident theologians. The dedication of this "Lazara" production leaves nc doubt:
Two radical feminists and tenacious advocates of ordination for women.
Sister Marjorie Tuite, O.P.
Marjorie Tuite, one of the key figures in the organization of the feminist network, had in the 1950's taught in New York Archdiocese parochial schools and moved to Chicago in the '60's to work with the National Urban Training Center. She came in contact with the Saul Alinsky school of community organizing and as a specialist in social justice ministry taught at the Jesuit School of Theology in Chicago. As an activist caught up in social justice issues which were a spawning ground for feminists, her influence among men and women religious was tremendous.
She was involved in the formation of the radical National Assembly of Women Religious (1968); was on the core commission of Women's Ordination Conference (1975); and was instrumental in the formation of Network, the national social justice lobby. In 1981 she took a staff position at Church Women United, an ecumenical group serving the "stock agenda of the political and feminist left." She compiled a NARW/CWU feminist political skills kit for "conscientizing" small groups using Paulo Freire techniques. Her name was numbered in the 1984 Catholics For a Free Choice ad in New York Times endorsing pluralism for abortion in the Catholic Church. She became enamored of the Communist regime in Nicaragua and made frequent trips to Central America. On one occasion to join a protest fast with Miguel D'Escoto, a Maryknoll priest, at the time foreign minister whose priestly faculties were later removed by the Vatican, (ibid. pp. 311-12)
At her funeral Mass in 1986, the pastor "properly asked that non-Catholics not come up for Communion." WOC's executive director Ruth Fitzpatrick tells what followed: "... her funeral was packed with people of all faiths. . . . In a loud voice . . . I called . . , 'You know that's not true. You're all welcome.' At 'the consecration the priest on the altar was surrounded by women . . . all of us extended our hands and said the words of consecration. . . .Before communion Sister Maureen Fiedler . . . went up and down the first seven rows saying, 'Everybody, please come to communion'. . . .Women-Church came into its own at Margie's funeral in the way that Margie wanted it." (Milhaven, Inside Stories, pp. 41-42 quoted in Ungodly Rage, pp. 311-312) (Following her wishes, Tuite's body was cremated and some of her ashes were shipped to Managua for burial.)
In a foreword to Inside Stories Rosemary Ruether described Tuite as "a personal martyr to patriarchy" who "found her very existence in the Catholic Church threatened" after signing the CFFC's New York Times ad. Her death, Ruether declared "makes Marge Tuite close to a new Christ figure for Catholic feminists." (ibid., p. 313)
Rosemary Radford Ruether
One of the most important feminists challenging the hierarchical structure of the Catholic Church in the United States is Rosemary Radford Ruether, professor of applied theology, Garrett Evangelical Seminary, Evanston, Illinois, and a featured columnist for National Catholic Reporter. As a college freshman, "she came to view . . . the Church 'not as a repository of truth . . . but as a terrible example of what we all are.' She did not invent religious feminism alone, but she can justly be called the mother of Women-Church, an organization deeply hostile to Catholic spirituality and Tradition. . . ." (ibid.,pp. 32-33)
Reuther described Women-Church as "the ultimate Exodus from the powers and principalities of oppression . . . into a spirituality of emancipation." (ibid., p. 33) In an article "The Ecclesia of Patriarchy and Women-Church" she stated: "The concept of Women-Church has originated among Catholic feminists in the United States who learned from the radical wing of post-Vatican II ecclesiology to depose the hierarchy as the source and primary exponents of the Church. Post-Vatican II ecclesiology taught these Catholics to believe that it is the people, the community at the base who are the church, first of all, and the ministry must take its place as servants and enablers of the people." (Printed in Miriam's Song II, "Patriarchy: A Feminist Critique," Priests for Equality, West Hyattsville, MD)
As a founder of Women-Church Ruether helped unite many feminist groups into Women-Church Convergence in 1983. An advocate of abortion she chaired a committee at Catholics For a Free Choice and has been a member of its board of directors since 1985. She was "part of the organizing committee for CFFC's two pro-abortion ads in New York Times in 1984. She was influential in the formation of several of the feminist groups that came into being in the 1960-80 period beginning with the first Women's Ordination Conference meeting in Detroit, 1975 which she addressed. In 1987 she was on its three-member national advisory committee." (ibid., p. 308)
The Fountain Square Fools have, by their published works, statements and dedications established allegiance to the radical feminist movement in the Catholic Church.
Radical Feminist Strategy
In 1980 Ruether, in an article "Is A New Christian Consensus Possible?" wrote that this consensus "could only come about if (the) traditional power could be deposed and the Church restructured on conciliar, democratic lines accountable to the people. Then the theological consensus of the academy could serve as a guide for the pastoral teaching of the Church. . . . In the immediate future we cannot hope for a new consensus that will overcome this theological split between the academy and the hierarchy. Rather, the best we can hope for is the defense of pluralism. . . Pluralism can be defended only by making sure that (the) hierarchical power structure is not strong enough to repress successfully the independent institutional base of conciliar and liberation theology...."
"The reason why there is any significant intellectual pluralism in the Catholic Church today is primarily because the Hierarchy has lost control of a number of important institutions and Catholic media. In addition, new kinds of Catholic movements have developed, outside of direct ecclesiastical control. These are the social base of liberal and liberationist theology." "This," Ruether declared, "is really what Kung is calling for: that the academy replace the Hierarchy as the Magisterium of the Church." (Journal of Ecumenical Studies 17 winter 1980)
Prior to the September 1987 visit of Pope John Paul II to the United States, the Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church sponsored a special meeting in New York City that featured Hans Kung, Rosemary Ruether, Charles Curran, Leonard Swidler, Sr. Madonna Kolbenschlag and Sidney Callahan. These speakers, well-established in the radical feminist orbit, engaged in "anti-Papal broadsides throughout the evening. If the Holy Father was not the object of crossfire, then the hunters turned relentlessly upon Cardinal Ratzinger who was caricatured and vilified by a number of the more outspoken stalkers on the panel of presenters."
"What Hans Kung said on that occasion was a development of the position Ruether had taken in 1980. His salient points were: 1) "The network of another kind of church is being formed from below within and without our congregations." 2) "It is a church shared by many pastors and chaplains benignly tolerated and indirectly supported by many anonymous people at the switching points of the ecclesiastical apparatus." 3) "This church among us . . . lives in the midst of the great church community . . . with their own priorities and manners . . . styles and actions different from those of the high level official Church." (reported by Msgr. Michael J. Wrenn in The Wanderer Jan. 14, 1988) (Emphasis added)
This radical feminist strategy will be illustrated in the remainder of this documentation.
The Radical Feminist Network
The Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church has a stated objective of "working for substantial structural changes in the Roman Catholic Church." Its "primary function is the raising of consciousness . . . so that all Catholics" become aware that "they have rights in addition to responsibilities." It is a participating organization in the Leadership Council of Catholic Laity (LCCL) (see "Networking for a 'lay-centered ' Church" mentioned above). It was a sponsor of COR formed in 1991 at the Call To Action Conference that spearheaded the "alternate events" program for World Youth Day.
ARCC was a co-sponsor of a CTA-initiated manifesto "Call For Reform in the Church" that made a dramatic appearance as a full page ad in New York Times on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 28, 1990. It listed by state the names of 4505 Catholic endorsers who had contributed twenty-five dollar donations to pay for its publication. The letter accompanying the solicitation disclosed that Hans Kung keynote speaker at an "Empowerment in the Church" conference in Washington D.C., with 1300 in attendance, was so impressed "he read it word for word at the conclusion of his address, endorsing it without qualification."
This manifesto called for the inclusion "of women at all levels of ministry and decision-making" including the priesthood; "extensive consultation" with the laity "in developing church teaching on human sexuality"; "open dialogue, academic freedom and due process" among others. These "new winds of solidarity and determination" the cover letter stated, "are blowing among Catholics . . . despite countervailing efforts in Rome." It also mentioned Hans Kung has been "a friend of ours ever since his historic address to the CTA conference in 1981."
Co-sponsoring organizations in addition to ARCC printed in the ad included Catholics Speak Out; CORPUS, The National Association for a Married Priesthood; Friends of Creation Spirituality, Inc.; and Women's Ordination Conference. These for the most part, key operators in the feminist network exist with the tacit approval of a few bishops while too many others elect not to make an issue of the attacks on the Magisterium and their own responsibilities as guardians of our Apostolic faith.
Women's Ordination Conference
WOC's first major meeting held in Detroit, November 1975 attracted 1200 of whom 90% were women religious. Keynote speaker Sr. Elizabeth Carroll, R.S.M., past president of LCWR (Leadership Conference of Women Religious) 1971-72, was a staff member of Center of Concern from 1974 to 1978 working on feminist issues. As keynote speaker she called on the bishops to engage in "serious continuing dialogue with women about women." Another speaker Sr. Margaret Parley, R.S.M. declared "women should assert a 'moral imperative' for ordination."
"It was Rosemary Ruether, however, who set the theme for the new organization when she asked members to consider seriously whether they really wanted ordination in the present 'demonic' Church. First of all, she said, 'they must demystify in their minds the false idea that priests possess sacramental power that the community does not have.' Thus from the outset, WOC's goal was to proclaim and act on a theology of declericalized priesthood and symbolic sacraments." (Ungodly Rage, p. 347)
The following year WOC's raison d'etre made its appearance at the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) "Call To Action" conference held October 21-23 in Detroit. The discussion papers official delegates received were the tabulated results of an extensive consultation process at the parish and diocesan levels that took place over a period of two years. Feedback sheets from this process "collated through the spring and summer of 1976" provided the writing committees with the material to develop the discussion papers for each category.
Under the category Church "arguments in favor of the ordination of women to the priesthood were articulated forcefully" in presentations made at the regional hearings. "Yet participants throughout the program recognized the existence of complex theological issues and were willing to await directions from those they feel are responsible for providing theological guidance." This bow in the direction of ecclesial authority was little more than a gesture as the "Women in the Church, Recommendation Two" clearly indicates:
At the plenary session where the presiding chairman, Msgr. John J. Egan gaveled the resolutions to their pre-determined adoption (roll-call votes were precluded) those on Church included:
Growth of the Movement
Rome was not unmindful of these developments. When the question of admission of women to the pastoral office arose among Protestant communities that had rejected the Sacrament of Orders at the time of their separation from Rome, no "strictly theological problem" was involved. However, "a new and much more serious situation was created when ordinations of women were carried out within communities that considered that they preserved the apostolic succession of Orders."
In July 1975 the General Synod of the Church of England approved the general principle of the ordination of women to the priesthood. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Coogan, advised Pope Paul VI "of the slow but steady growth of a consensus of opinion within the Anglican Communion that there was no fundamental objection in principle to the ordination of women to the priesthood." These general principles if followed by practice, as well might be the case, would inject a new and serious obstacle in the dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church on the nature of the ministry.
In an address April 18, 1975 to members of the Committee for the Celebration of International Women's Year, Paul VI had stated "Although women do not receive the call for the apostolate of the Twelve and therefore to the ordained ministries, they are nonetheless invited to follow Christ as disciples and co-workers. . . . We cannot change what Our Lord did, nor His call to women." (Ass 67 - 1976, p 265). In his exchange of letters with Dr. Coogan, November 30, 1975 the Pope clearly expressed the position of the Catholic Church: "Your Grace is of course well aware of the Catholic Church's position on this question. She holds that it is not admissible to ordain women to the priesthood, for very fundamental reasons."
This question had found fertile soil among progressivist Catholics in the United States so much so that Archbishop Bemardin of Cincinnati, the president of NCCB stated on October 7, 1975: "Honesty and concern for the Catholic community . . . requires that Church leaders not seem to encourage unreasonable hopes and expectations, even by their silence. Therefore, I am obliged to restate the Church's teaching that women are not to be ordained to the priesthood." (Origins N.C. Documentary Service of Oct. 16, 1975)
Pope Paul following his correspondence with the Archbishop of Canterbury, ordered the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to examine this question "in its entirety." (This segment on Growth of the Movement is excerpted from Commentary - Circumstances and Origin of the Declaration, pp. 28-33, Declaration on the Question of Admission of Women to the Ministerial Priesthood, Daughters of St. Paul, Boston, MA)
What becomes apparent is that for the sake of a democratic approach, the views expressed in the two-year consultation process took precedence over the statement of the president of NCCB that adhered to Church teaching. The writing committee chaired by a bishop bowed before the feminists "at the switching points" of the NCCB establishment. This would explain the disclaimer printed in the Working Papers for the Call To Action:
Rome was aware then and continues to be aware of the silence of the majority of U.S. bishops.
Declaration on the Question
When Pope Paul VI directed Fanjo Cardinal Seper, prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to prepare a document on the teaching of the Church on the ordination of women he stipulated coverage "in its entirety." This document, Declaration on the Question of the Admission of Women to the Ministerial Priesthood he approved, confirmed and ordered for publication Oct. 15, 1976. It will be referred to as the Declaration for the remainder of this documentation.
The complete text the St. Louis Review printed carried a statement by the then Archbishop of St. Louis, John Joseph Cardinal Carberry who declared "its teaching must be classified as 'Catholic Doctrine'." He further stated: "Short excerpts of this document, at times taken out of context, have appeared in the media, easily misrepresenting the balanced thoughts of the Declaration itself."
The Declaration makes note of the developments in Protestant communities and the Holy Father's correspondence with the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Declaration then states: "This therefore constitutes an ecumenical problem and the Catholic Church must make her thinking known on it, all the more because in various sectors of opinion the question has been asked whether she too could not modify her discipline and admit women to priestly ordination."
"A number of Catholic theologians have even posed this question publicly, evoking studies not only in the sphere of exegesis, patrology and Church history but also in the field of the history of institutions and customs, of sociology and of psychology. The various arguments capable of clarifying this important problem have been submitted to a critical examination. As we are dealing with a debate which classical theology scarcely touched upon, the current argumentation runs the risk of neglecting essential elements."
"For these reasons, in execution of a mandate received from the Holy Father and echoing the declaration which he himself made in his letter on November 30, 1975, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith judges it necessary to recall that the Church, in fidelity to the example of the Lord does not consider herself authorized to admit women to priestly ordination. The sacred congregation deems it opportune at the present juncture to explain this position of the Church. It is a position which will perhaps cause pain but whose positive value will become apparent in the long run, since it can be of help in deepening understanding for the respective roles of men and women." (Under sub-heading: The Role of Women in Modern Society and the Church)
Under sub-heading: Permanent Value of the Attitude of Jesus and the Apostles. "In the final analysis it is the Church, through the voice of her magisterium that, in these various domains, decides what can change and what must remain immutable. When she judges that she cannot accept certain changes, it is because she knows that she is bound by Christ's manner of acting. Her attitude despite appearances, is therefore not one of archaism but of fidelity; it can be truly understood only in this light. The Church makes pronouncements in virtue of the Lord's promise and the presence of the Holy Spirit, in order to proclaim better the mystery of Christ and to safeguard and manifest the whole of its rich content."
"This practice of the Church, therefore, has a normative character: in the fact of conferring priestly ordination only on men, it is a question of an unbroken tradition throughout the history of the Church universal in the East and in the West, and alert to repress abuses immediately. This norm, based on Christ's example, has been and is still observed because it is considered to conform to God's plan for his church."
Under the sub-heading: The Ministerial Priesthood in the Light of Mystery of Christ. "The Christian Priesthood is, therefore, of a sacred nature: the priest is a sign, the supernatural effectiveness of which comes from the ordination received, but a sign that must be perceptible and which the faithful must be able to recognize with ease. The whole sacramental economy is in fact based upon natural signs, on symbols imprinted upon the human psychology: 'Sacramental signs,' says St. Thomas, 'represent what they signify by natural resemblance'."
"The same natural resemblance is required for persons as for things: when Christ's role in the eucharist is to be expressed sacramentally, there would not be this 'natural resemblance' which must exist between Christ and his minister if the role of Christ were not taken by a man: in such a case it would be difficult to see in the minister the image of Christ. For Christ Himself was and remains a man."
Under the concluding sub-heading: The Ministerial Priesthood Illustrated by the Mystery of Christ. ". .. It must not be forgotten that the priesthood does not form part of the rights of the individual, but stems from the economy of the mystery of Christ and the Church. The priestly office cannot become the goal of social advancement; no merely human progress of society or of the individual can of itself give access to it: it is of another order. The Church desires that Christian women should become fully aware of the greatness of their mission: today their role is of capital importance, both for the renewal and humanization of society and for the discovery by believers of the true face of the Church."
Brief as these excerpts are, it is hoped they convey the essence and spirit of this Declaration so necessary for an understanding of what the Church holds and teaches.
Embittered Feminists React
In the spring of 1977 feminist activists formed a coalition called "Women of the Church Coalition" to pressure the bishops on the matter of ordination. In addition to WOC it included Chicago Catholic Women, National Coalition of American Nuns, National Assembly of Religious Women, Quixote Center among others. During the NCCB annual meeting November 1978 members of the NCCB Liaison Committee with Religious and Laity," chaired by Bishop James Malone, Youngstown, Ohio conferred with thirty of the coalition's feminist leaders. (Thelate) Bishop Maurice Dingman then proposed to the NCCB general assembly that a dialogue be established 'between bishops' conference and the women of our church'." The women he had in mind were WOC feminists.
"With the approval of the NCCB, president bishop John Quinn directed the bishops' Ad Hoc Committee on the Role of Women in Society and the Church to 'explore the possibility' of a dialogue with WOC representatives." This agreement on the part of NCCB to "engage in dialogue was WOC's greatest success." Concurrent with these developments, about 2000 feminists "infuriated by the Vatican declaration on women and the priesthood" attended WOC's second conference in Baltimore where they were encouraged to "challenge the ecclesiastical establishment." (Ungodly Rage, pp. 348-350)
The NCCB "formal dialogue sessions" with feminists took place between December 1979 and December 1981. The WOC team included among others, Rosemary Ruether and Marjorie Tuite, 0. P., both pertinent to this documentation. "The NCCB representatives were Bishop Michael McAuliffe, Jwfferson City, Missouri; Auxiliary Bishops George Evans Denver, Colorado; P. Francis Murphy, Baltimore, Maryland; Amedee Proulx, Portland, Maine." "When the dialogue ended the over-matched NCCB committee agreed with WOC's representatives that the Vatican 1976 Declaration on women's ordination had been written too hurriedly and lacked scholarly documentation. The bishops recommended magisterial review of that document 'in the light of modern anthropology, sacramental theology and the practice and experience of women ministering in American culture'." (Report on a Dialogue: The Future of Women in the Church, Origins 12, No. 1 May 20, 1982:7 quoted in Ungodly Rage, p. 351)
This amounted to an incredible affront from NCCB to the reigning Vicar of Christ Pope Paul VI who had authorized, confirmed and approved the Declaration. What was rejected is the Declaration statement: "When the Church judges that she cannot accept certain changes, it is because she is bound by Christ's manner of acting. Her attitude . . . is one of fidelity." (quoted above)
"The concept of 'Women-Church' as the real center of a remodeled Church" was introduced initially at a "Women Moving Church" conference in 1981 sponsored by Center of Concern. It was organized by staff member Maria Riley, O.P., who remains to this day involved in "women's issues." (ibid., p. 352) This Jesuit-directed "think-tank" from its inception has enjoyed close association with both bishops and staff at NCCB/USCC in Washington, D.C. While it continues to be a staunch advocate of "women's issues" it has maintained a discreet distance from the more radical elements - the pro-abortion and lesbian groups involved in the movement.
The Women in the Church Coalition held its first major conference "Women Church Speaks" in Chicago 1983 attracting 1200 women. Rosemary Ruether "preached during one of the liturgical experiences." She concluded "by naming certain American Roman Catholic bishops as people invited to accompany us on our journey. . . .These particular bishops had, in fact, endorsed this conference and had sent contributions to it . . . so they are named as being among its patrons." She identified Maurice Dingman (Des Moines), Frank Murphy (Baltimore), George Evans (Denver), Raymond Hunthausen (Seattle), Charles Buswell (Pueblo, CO), Tom Gumbleton (Detroit). Bishops Murphy and Evans had served on the NCCB dialogue team and the late Bishop Dingman had been WOC's original sponsor. (Women- Church, Theology and Practice of Feminist Liturgical Communities by Rosemary Radford Ruether, Harper & Row, 1986, pp. 68-69.)
Shortly after this meeting the coalition name was changed to Women-Church Convergence. This name change did not indicate a new organization. It remained a coalition of women's groups working together "for the recognition, empowerment and development of women as church. Through mutual agreements, we act locally, nationally and internationally in the public arena." (from Identity Statement of Women-Church Convergence). By 1986 participating members included the following: Boston Catholic Women, Catholics For a Free Choice, Community of the Anawin, Conference for Catholic Lesbians, Grail Women Task Force, Greater Cincinnati Catholic Women, Las Hermanas, Loretto Women's Network, Louisville Women-Church Task Force, New Ways Ministry, WATER, Women in Spirit/CO, Women's Ordination Conference, Women-Church Baltimore.
As a point of interest considering the influential role Chicago has played in recent years the WCC members from that area have been grouped separately: BVM Network for Women's Issues, Catholic Women for Reproductive Rights, Chicago Catholic Women Eighth Day Center for Justice, Institute of Women Today, National Coalition of American Nuns, Racine Dominicans, SFCC Feminist Network, Wheaton Franciscans, Women's Ordination Conference, Women-Church Convergence.
Ambitions of Women-Church
Ruether, founder of Women-Church Coalition and influential in the formation of Women-Church Convergence reveals in her book, Women-Church, Theology and Practice, the goals and ambitions of the feminist revolutionaries:
These excerpts are symptomatic of the aversion with which radical Catholic feminists regard the hierarchical structure of the Church. This is shown in the frequent use of the word patriarchal, always in a disparaging sense. How well established this antipathy has become is found in the many conferences that have been held following "Women Church Speaks" in 1983.
In Women-Church Ruether wrote: "Constructing a church liberated from patriarchy will require the dismantling of clericalism." This may not have been well received in some quarters but for whatever reason, the fact remains Time Consultants in 1986 introduced a Ministry in Review series of conferences. Time Consultants, a Maryland-based private firm had for more than seventeen years "worked closely with the United States Catholic Conference, national organizations, dioceses and universities offering the finest Catholic ministerial conferences available in the area of religious education, liturgy, youth ministry and women in the church." The promotional brochure for its first conference "Women in the Church" hints at the reason behind its new Ministry in Review series: "Can we address today's sensitive issues in a manner that is moderate and constructive?"
This conference held in Washington, D.C., Oct. 1986 attracted 2500 of whom 97% were women. Joan Chittister, OSB, past president of LCWR and on the board of Directors of NCR (National Catholic Reporter), as keynoter spoke on "Sexism in the Church." Fr. Richard McBrien, then chairman of the Theology Department, Notre Dame, addressing "An Ecclesiology for Women and Men" said "he backed the ministry of qualified women not only as priests but as bishops and pope." Other speakers included Bishop Amedee Proulx, Portland, ME., who had been on the NCCB/WOC dialogue team and Bishop Ren De Roo, Victoria, Canada. Several bishops were among the registrants: Francis P. Murphy, Baltimore (also on the NCCB/WOC team); John Fitzpatrici Brownsville, TX; Joseph Breitenbeck, Grand Rapid, MI; Joseph lmesch, Joliet, IL., chairman of the bishops' committee preparing a pastoral on women in the Church. Throughout the three day conference there were repeated calls for women's ordination.
"At a midday 'feminist liturgy' Oct. 11 sponsored by Women-Church in conjunction with the conference, women participants were urged to 'claim your power' during the official conference Mass that evening by raising their arms at the consecration and symbolically concelebrating the Eucharist. At the evening Mass the priest-celebrant apologized that women could not preside, and the nun who delivered a reflection in place of the homily said the exclusion women from ordained ministry was a form of slavery. But only a small minority of the congregation stretched out their hands at the consecration." (NC by Jerry Filteau, Times Review, Oct. 16, 1986)
So much for moderation! In essence this conference created a public forum of 2500 to impress the bishops with the strength of the feminist movement. It was an extension of the NCCB/WOC dialogue.
The 1987 Conferences
In 1987 Women-Church Convergence held its second national conference in Cincinnati, Oct. 9-11. Three weeks later, Time Consultants held its second Ministry in Review conference in Washington, D.C. The Cincinnati "Women-Church: Claiming Our Power" conference attracted 3000 women. Saturday morning the participants made bread - "bread bonds us as a people" - for the Saturday night eucharist celebration. "The many breads we have made are shared in memory of her and in memory of us." The speakers for the most part could be viewed as radical revolutionaries including Rosemary Ruether, Frances Kissling (CFFC); Mary E. Hunt (WATER); Theresa Kane RSM, who as president of LCWR addressed Pope John Paul II in 1979 calling for the ordination of women; Ruth Fitzpatrick (WOC); Joan Chittister OSB, past president of LCWR, among a host of others. Ruether spoke on "Analyzing Power: Bonding and Organizing for Change"; Chittister spoke on "Seeeing Through Patriarchy."
Speakers for the Time Consultants Ministry in Review conference "Women in the Church" included Bishop Francis P. Murphy, Baltimore (on original NCCB/WOC dialogue team), Bishop Kenneth Untener, Saginaw, MI and former priests Thomas Groome and Bernard Cooke. The keynote speaker, Sandra Schneider IHM, said "Patriarchy will not yield quickly or deal gently with those that challenge it." NCR Nov. 13, 1987 reported: "Glimpses of the radical spirit that imbued the Women-Church Convergence three weeks earlier appeared in several speeches; (however) this meeting was markedly more subdued than the Cincinnati conference. According to Timothy Ragen, president Time Consultants, the more radical women were in Cincinnati, the more moderate were in Washington." The attendance in Washington was 1200 - 80% women religious. It should be noted: Joan Chittister and Sandra Schneider had addressed both conferences.
These conferences took place the same month the Synod on the Laity was held in Rome. In preparation for the Synod, the bishops' Committee on the Laity held a series of regional consultations where the role of women in the Church and small faith communities were the principal matters discussed. Dolores Leckey, in her capacity as secretary of the committee supplied the questions. NCR reporting on one meeting admitted the consultation process was "structured to produce consensus." (NCR April 10, 1987) As a result of all this feminist pressure "women's issues" was a top priority for the American bishops going to the Synod, (see Forum Quarterly "Networking for a Lay-Centered Church", Vol. VI, No. 3&4)
Future of the American Church
"After much consultation" Time Consultants decided to merge the 1988 "Women in the Church" conference into the larger context of "Future of the American Church." While some new names were added and a significant address "What Can We Learn From the New Age Spirituality?" was given by the NCR director of Credence Cassettes, speakers entrenched in the feminist orbit dominated the conference. According to the promotional blurb, it was "designed to be a positive and constructive experience for the Catholic professionals of North America who shape tomorrow's church." The speakers included: Fr. Richard McBrien, Fr. Charles Curran, former priest Anthony Padovano, Joe Holland long time associate of Center of Concern, Ruth Fitzpatrick (WOC), Sr. Fran Ferder, FSPA, Sr. Theresa Kane RSM and Rosemary Ruether. This amounted to a quiet merger of the radical Women-Church Convergence and the "moderate" Time Consultants, (emphasis added)
In spite of the differentiation Time Consultants offered, it was the self-labeled moderates who brought the heterodox theologian Hans Kung to keynote the 1989 Future of the American Church conference. Others at the podium included: Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, Detroit, named by Ruether as one of the bishops who financially supported the 1983 "Women- Church Speaks" conference (see above); Sr. Joan Chittister OSB a favorite of both camps; former priests Daniel Maguire and Bernard Cooke; Dr. Sidney Callahan who signed the Chicago Call To Action ad "A Call for Reform" New York Times, Feb. 1990 that among other items called for women's ordination; Dr. Lisa Sowle Cahill who had served as a consultant to NCCB on sexual ethics and the role of the laity.
Kung's address was an embittered attack on the papacy, in particular Pope John Paul II who in 1979 had censored him. "The future," according to Kung, does not belong "to a patriarchal church." He spoke for inclusive language - "women will no longer put up . . . with a language that excludes them. ..." They "are increasingly claiming the right to name for themselves what God means for them." "From the prohibition of altar girls to the ban on the ordination of women . . . runs a constant strand of regimentation . . . more and more women are working toward a different church." He concluded his address by reading in its entirety "A Pastoral Letter From Concerned Catholics" prepared by Chicago Call To Action (CCTA) that paved the way for "A Call For Reform' ' ad in the New York Times Ash Wednesday February 28, 1990. This propelled CCTA and its slogan "we are the Church" into national prominence to the extent that the president of Time Consultants in promoting the 1990 conference wrote "We, too, are the Church."
Subsequent conferences 1990-1993, incorporated "we are the Church" with the theme of reforming the Church into the broader context of the "Future of the American Church." The 1990 meeting featured Archbishop Rembert Weakland as keynoter. Others were: Rosemary Ruether, Sr. Mary Luke Tobin, SL, a past president of LCWR; Maria Riley, 0.P., coordinator of Women's Project at Center of Concern; Fr. Arthur Baranowski whose "entire responsibility is to develop ongoing small parish-based faith communities. He has worked to establish small groups that could develop into small base churches." (quoted from Time Consultants promotional blurb) Fr. Richard McBrien and Fr. Bryan Hehir were the lead speakers at the 1991 conference and 1992 brought Maria Riley, 0. P., again to the podium along with Srs. Joan Chittister and Theresa Kane. The 1993 program was headed by Bishop Michael Kenny (Juneau, AK); Fr. Charles Curran; former priest Anthony Padovano, Rosemary Ruether and an Episcopalian bishop Jane H. Dixon who urged Catholic women to continue their struggle for ordination.
To this day, the Declaration on the Question of the Admission of Women to the Ministerial Priesthood (Inter Insigniores) has been a non-entity in the American Church. It has not been relevant. In the 1978-81 formal dialogue sessions with WOC feminists, the bishops, no match for the aggressive tactics of their adversaries, agreed the Declaration should be reviewed "in the light of . . . the practice and experience of women ministering in our American culture." (see above) It was not a point of reference in the many conferences documented above, neither was Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Letter on the Dignity and Vocation of Women (Mulieris Dignitatem) promulgated August 15, 1988 wherein he reaffirmed the teaching of Paul VI:
As additional doctrinal teaching the Holy Father quoted the Constitution on the Church in the Modern World: The Church "maintains that beneath all changes there are many realities which do not change and which have their ultimate foundation in Christ. . . . " He then stated: "These words show the path to be followed in understanding the tasks connected with the dignity and vocation of women against the background of the significant changes of our times. We can face these changes correctly and adequately only if we go back to the foundations which are found in Christ. . . . A different way of acting would lead to doubtful, if not actually erroneous and deceptive results." (para 28) (emphasis added)
Radical feminists, however, have their own way of acting, their own agenda and they have influential friends at USCC to help with its implementation. Some responsibility rests with the USCC writing committees that composed the recommendations and subsequent resolutions for the Detroit Call To Action in 1976. In particular, Resolution no. 15 creating "an effectively staffed structure to promote the full participation of women in the Church." In 1977 NCCB established a Bishops' Committee on the Laity with Dolores Leckey appointed Executive Director. Sincce then her responsibilities have increased appreciably. She now heads committees on Marriage and Family Life, Laity, Women in Society and the Church, and Youth. But the voice she upholds is that of the feminists in the American Church, not that of the majority of Catholics in the United States loyal to the Holy See.
In September 1982 the USCC National Institute for the Family convened a consultation to analyze Pope John Paul II's recently published Apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio. This, a result of the 1980 Synod on the Family "reaffirmed most of what the world knew to be the received Catholic teaching or sex, marriage and parenthood. The National Institute by virtue of the composition of its leadership and the invited speakers, provided important evidence of how far removed leading lights of the USCC infrastructure were from the thought and moral norms of the Holy See." Dolores Leckey who had been a USCC delegate to the Roman Synod was among those invited to give papers.
None of the speakers, however, "was known to be a defender of the Church's integral teaching on Catholic family life even though they were associated with the USCC in one form or another." They all shared a common bond: "They were all unhappy with Familiaris Consortio. For Leckey, John Paul II was insufficiently feminist." Fr. Henry Sattler, C.Ss.R., "who participated in the National Institute sessions, was appalled at the extent of 'rejection' at the three day meeting - the assertion of the laity's equal authority with hierarchy in determining the content of the Catholic Faith. This position is heretical."
Msgr. George A. Kelly, author of the book Inside My Father's House who relates the above, concludes with the succinct observation: "Hardly any other institution functioning in the U.S. today would tolerate such a one-sided assault on its chief officer from within the ranks and leave him undefended." (p. 322- 323, Doubleday 1989) (emphasis in original)
This equating the authority of laity and hierarchy in determining the content of the Catholic faith surfaced again that same year when the NCCB team acceded to the WOC feminists and recommended that Rome "in light of the practice and experience of women ministering in our American culture" reconsider its teaching on women's ordination. Dolores Leckey who had expressed opinions critical of Pope John Paul II in respect to his Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio (noted above) has shown in her writings where her sympathies lie. She has - in political parlance - a paper trail.
Center of Concern in the Feminist Orbit
Riley is associated with Center of Concern, the Jesuit-directed "think-tank" in Washington, D.C., which enjoys a close relationship with NCCB/USCC. She has been coordinator of COC's "women's project" since 1979, succeeding Sr. Elizabeth Carroll, RSM. Carroll, a past president of LCWR was the keynote speaker at the first Women's Ordination Conference in 1975, noted above. Riley coordinated COC's 1981 Women Moving Church Conference. In 1987 she spoke at the "radical" feminist Women-Church Convergence in Cincinnati and in 1990 and 1991 at the "moderate" feminist Future of the American Church conference sponsored by Time Consultants.
Her writings witness to her commitment to the radical feminist agenda - the overriding issue as with all feminists is the Church's patriarchy: "because women are excluded from decision-making in the church, the church lacks the fullness of human reflection, female and male, in the formation of its doctrinal, moral and pastoral life." Specifically: 1) "women are denied the rights to share their faith publicly with the community through preaching;" 2) "Women are denied the fullness of priesthood or even the chance to act as altar servers." (Women Faithful For The Future by Maria Riley, O.P. Sheed & Ward, 1987, pp. 11-12) She endorses inclusive language which is rooted in the feminist antipathy to patriarchy. God is "S/He;" a Women's Creed begins: "I believe in God who created woman and man in God's own image - who created the world and gave both sexes the care of the earth;" "I believe in Jesus who spoke of himself as a mother hen;" "I believe in the Holy Spirit, the women Spirit of God who like a hen created us. ..." (ibid., p. 7 and pp. 19-20)
In this book, as in Wisdom Seeks Her Way: Liberating The Power of Women's Spirituality (Center of Concern, 1987) small group discussion is encouraged as essential to the feminization process. Dolores Leckey has also called attention to the importance of these groups: "The experience of women in groups ... has been a factor in the women's movement. A new phrase was crafted to describe the changes that occurred in groups, consciousness raising. Simply stated, consciousness raising mean(s) that women . . . began to see and to understand social relations an social institutions in a new way and to speak about this new understanding with a depth of realization previously unknown." (emphasis added) (Women an Creativity, op. cit., p. 40)
While both of Riley's books recommend centering exercise before each group session Wisdom Seek Her Way . . ." gives explicit details: 1) Breathing - "pay attention to your breathing - become aware of the rhythm of your breathing:" 2) Seeing - "enjoy the colors and contours of the room, continuing to breathe deeply;" 3) Sound - "close your eyes and listen to the sounds around you;" 4) Touch - "enjoy the sensation of your body:" 5) Relaxing - " series of stretching and relaxing exercises for arm and other parts of the body;" 6) Dance - "follow the rhythm of music with your body movements;" 7) Speech - "begin to softly repeat a mantra that centers you." (pp. 80-81)
What is most appalling, however, is Riley's mention of "women-spirit rising" as "one of the mos dynamic 'signs of our times' that deserves serious attention." This she writes, "denies the legitimacy of patriarchy" the "belief and system which declare man to be superior to woman and therefore the right fill ruler of the church and the society. It also demands change." (ibid., p. 1)
It should be noted that womenspirit rising is a reference to a bitterly antagonistic book Womenspirit Rising: A Feminist Reader In Religion, edited by Carol Christ and Judith Plaskow (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1979). These feminists believe "that religion could be 'recreated to speak to the experienc of women'." (p. xi - quoted in Ungodly Rage by Steichen, p. 95) This collection of essays by originators of feminist theology (Rosemary Ruether, et al) includes Carol Christ's contribution "Why Women Need the Goddess." Herein she states "Even people who 'no longer believe in God' still may not be free of the power of the symbolism of God the Father. ..." (ibid., p. 95)
Women's Movement Rooted in
Feminist liturgies, inclusive language, exercises for centering - these offshoots of the New Age Movement have flourished in the fertile soil of the Chicago Archdiocese, the original base of operations for Matthew Fox, a continuing base for Rosemary Ruether, at Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary, Evanston, Illinois and Chicago Call To Action (CTA). CTA, shortly after its formation had initiated a Women's Issues Committee as part of its on-going activities, and had kept alive the Detroit Call To Action agenda.
It enjoys the benign approval of the Chicago Ordinary, Joseph Cardinal Bemardin, who was the NCCB president in 1976 and Msgr. John J. Egan who had chaired the plenary sessions that adopted the Detroit radical agenda. Fox, a Dominican in the Chicago Province, while teaching in the religious studies department at the BVM (Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary) Mundelein College, founded his Institute for Culture and Creation Spirituality there in 1977. In 1983 he moved the Institute to Holy Names College, Oakland, California where he continued to exert a strong influence on his students in the promotion of creation-centered spirituality. (Recently, as a result of silencing by the Holy See and explusion from the Chicago Province, Fox has renounced his Catholicism to become an Episcopalian.)
It was at his suggestion CTA circulated a so-called Pastoral Letter From Concerned Catholics which became its Call For Reform In The Catholic Church, published in New York Times Ash Wednesday, Feb. 28, 1990 with 4505 signatures. Among the demands were: calls for the ordination of women; inclusive language; new forms of liturgy; an end to mandatory priestly celibacy. Co-sponsoring organizations were: Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church; Catholics Speak Out; CORPUS, the National Association for a Married Priesthood; Friends of Creation Spirituality and Women's Ordination Conference - all familiar organs of radical feminists.
In the 1980's CTA's Women's Issues Committee made arrangements with the Graduate Program of Religious Studies at Mundelein College to co-sponsor a series of programs by a local group called "Limina" to introduce goddess spirituality to Chicago Catholics. These programs were subsequently held at other colleges in the Chicago area. However, there was so much adverse publicity and alumni protests at the colleges involved that Chicago Call To Action News admitted early in 1988 Limina was "definitely not flourishing on Catholic premises'." Nonetheless CTA doing its bit to keep goddess spirituality alive continues to carry news items about Limina programs in its publications.
In the Old Testament the prophet Isaiah admonished the Jewish people for their evil ways: "The new moon . . . and the other festivals, I will not abide, your assemblies are wicked. My soul hates your new moons and your solemnities." (IS 1, 13-14)
In our day Pope John Paul II has urged active opposition to "a feminism which polarizes along bitter ideological lines" - which has led to "forms of nature worship and the celebration of myths and symbols. This kind of feminism is being encouraged by some people in the Church, including religious women whose beliefs, attitudes and behavior no longer correspond to what the gospel and the Church teach." (NCR July 16, 1993)
The 1993 Call To Action "We Are The Church" conference which attracted 2300, had the customary sessions on creation spirituality and women's ordination issues along with speakers Rosemary Ruether, Fr. Richard McBrien and Fr. Michael Crosby (see Forum Quarterly "A Lay-Centered Church"). But the speaker who attracted special attention and had led a preconference mini-retreat on the spirit of Sophia Wisdom, was Edwina Gateley, a specialist in feminism and spirituality. She had spoken at the notorious Women-Church Convergence in Cincinnati in 1987 and is on the board of Mary's Pence, a project of Chicago Catholic Women to divert monies from the annual Peter's Pence Collection for the Holy Father.
At the CTA conference the previous year Sr. Mary Luke Tobin, S.L. and Fr. Charles Curran "co-presided" at the Eucharist celebration. For 1993 Edwina Gateley and Fr. Robert Bassie were the "co-presiders" with Gateley photographed "vesting" the priest with a stole worn over a sweater and jeans outfit. But CTA went a step further: the entire conference was a liturgy "with the first Scripture reading Friday night and the dismissal rite and recessional Sunday afternoon." The Eucharist was held Saturday in a bizarre Halloween setting (it was that weekend) with participants seated at tables of ten from where one person obtained a basket of bread and a goblet of wine for the Eucharistic Prayer which everyone recited including Bishop Thomas Gumbleton who dutifully obeyed all the instructions. After everyone self-communicated and cleaned the goblet the celebration ended.
After Gateley received adverse publicity she wrote an article for NCR that in its opening sentence conveys the attitude of women's ordination advocates: "When Call To Action asked me whether I would concelebrate the eucharistic liturgy at its conference I did not hesitate." (emphasis added) (NCR, Feb. 25, 1994)
This documentation is presented at some detail so the reader can begin to understand the lengths to which the dissenters will go in defiance of papal authority. It is also presented to show how well protected CTA is at the "switching points" of the liberal establishment.
The Dec. 1993-Jan. 1994 Call To Action News carried an item that a CTA member Mev Puleo, "a liberal feminist who signed CTA's Call For Reform ad in the New York Times in 1990!" served as emcee for three Masses and two prayer services during Pope John Paul II's visit to World Youth Day in Denver, August 1993. When she met the Pope "she told him: '... please hear the cry of women'. " She "later told CTA though I accepted an invitation to be present on the 'inside' my heart was with the voices that challenge outside and I tried to make that present." "She challenged the Youth Day leadership in small ways: getting inclusive language added in prayers. ..." (emphasis in original)
"At The Switching Points"
When Hans Kung addressed the meeting sponsored by Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church (ARCC), September 1987 he made note of a "network of another kind of church . . . being formed from below . . . benignly tolerated and indirectly supported by many anonymous people at the switching points of the ecclesiastical apparatus." He "spoke of styles different from that of the high-level official Church." (The Wanderer, Jan. 14, 1988) ( emphasis in original)
This documentation is an illustration of the manipuation the radical network within the Church determined to bring about democratic control (We Are The Church) resorted to in their plans to embarrass Holy Father and reflect poorly on the official Church during World Youth Day '93. It has identified key networking organizations in this endeavor; it has indicated the existence of "gender issues" as a common bond among some well established NCCB and COC personnel who are in consultation with Time Consultants' Future of the American Church programs. (The Nov. 1993 Center Forum announced Maria Riley, 0.P. "is on the Advisory Board for the National Center for Pastoral Leadership recently organized as the sustaining organization behind the Future of the American Church conference, and other efforts to address creatively the issues that face as the U.S. Catholic Church." (emphasis added)
No one will assume responsibility for the inclusion in the official WYD program of the Fountain Squal Fools mime enactment of the Stations of the Cross with Christ portrayed by a woman or for the Pilgrims' Litany to God that failed to identify God as "the Almighty Father," a phrase known to all in our common profession of faith. All that is known is the mime performers were "asked to participate by World Youth Day organizers." (Rocky Mountain News Aug. 15,1993)
A report in the Oct. 1993 Religious Conference Manager stated "the World Youth Day planning office, led by Msgr. Dennis Schnurr was in Washington, D.C." It seems reasonable to presume when "Denver was chosen early in 1992" the Pontifical Council for the Laity at the Vatican would have coordinated arrangements with the NCCB Committee on the Laity in Washington, D.C., which since 1992 has included Youth among its responsibilities. However, lacking a definitive statement we are left with "anonymous people at the switching points of the ecclesiastical apparatus."
Rosemary Ruether to whom Fountain Square Fools dedicated their mime production "Lazara," speaking at the CTA's 1993 "We Are The Church" conference declared: " 'Under John Paul II we have returned to Inquisitional Authoritarianism' which rejects theologians (like Matthew Fox) out of hand. At the heart of John Paul's brand of Catholicism is 'control of women and control of sexuality - and a tendency to confuse the two'." What is needed, according to Ruether, "is a dissenting church." (Call To Action News, Dec. 1993-Jan. 1994)
Undeterred by Detraction - Rome Speaks
In the spring of 1993, well before World Youth Day, the Holy See sent a series of six messages reinforcing the magisterial teaching and doctrinal base in the Declaration Inter Insigniores of Oct. 1976 - "16 years later the text retains its validity." These articles on "Admission of Women to the Ministerial Priesthood" appeared in the English edition of L'0sservatore Romano March 10-April 14. Written by eminent theologians, the series concluded with an essay by Dr. Joyce Little, professor of theology, St. Thomas University, Houston, USA.
In December 1993 Time magazine featured a profile of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, using his written responses to questions Time submitted in preparation for a live interview. Very little of the Cardinal's responses appeared in the Time article but Catholic World Report in its January 1994 issue reproduced in full the Cardinal's responses. The following quotations are related to our documentation:
On Matthew Fox: We criticized Matthew Fox "because of his gnostic-syncretistic conception of the world which distances itself from the basis of New Testament faith and practically replaces it with another religion. . . . Fox links 'creation spirituality' with a relativity of sin and redemption whereby the figure of Jesus Christ is pushed from the center and replaced to a great extent by a vague notion of the 'cosmic Christ'."
On Women Priests: "As far as women priests are concerned, the Congregation for the Faith laid out in its 1976 instruction, which was very carefully put together, that the Church 'does not consider herself authorized' to depart from the apostolic tradition which does not know of women's priesthood although this was part of the religions of the Mediterranean area. I believe the formulation chosen at that time to be very important: the Church cannot simply do whatever she likes. The pope is not an absolute monarch but is bound, like the faithful, to obedience to the given word and tradition; indeed he is guarantor of this obedience. "
On Non-sexist Language: "Clearly God is neither man nor woman but simply God - the one who is totally other. . . . All that we can say about God in human terms is to be found in the principle of analogy about which Lateran Council IV said in 1215 that the dissimilarity is always greater than the similarity. But there is a measure in our talk of "similar and dissimilar' that God himself gave us in the figure of Jesus Christ, whom the Bible tells us is the 'Word of God' and his co-equal 'Son.' He wanted to live among us as the 'Son' of God and called God 'Father.' Thus for those who believe in Jesus Christ according to the New Testament, the focus of our prayer and talk of God is fixed and we cannot judge change that arbitrarily. Whoever, coming from the 'non-sexist language' viewpoint, begins to suppress the figure of Christ and push the central Father-Son axis of prayer to one side, is placing philosophy (in human terms a quite intelligent philosophy) above faith and thus inventing another religion. If Christ said to us, you should pray like this: 'Our Father ...' then we cannot say I think that's wrong, I'll pray differently. Also here, anyone who thinks and talks in this way is no longer praying with Christ."
The editors of Time magazine extracted at will from the Cardinal's written responses to present a profile that would fit under the caption "Keeper of the Straight and Narrow, The Pope's chief enforcer of doctrine and morals, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, is the most powerful prince of the Church and one of the most despised."
Pope John Paul II has spoken as had Paul VI; Cardinal Ratzinger, prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has also spoken in defense of the Magisterium. And from the United States National Conference of Catholic Bishops there has been silence - complete silence.
We who are Roman in our Catholicism have an obligation - a grave obligation to come to the defense of Pope John Paul II, chosen by God to be our shepherd at this moment in history; and to come to the defense of his designated prefect for the Sacred Congregation. They are the principal targets of the dissenters within and without the Church.
It is our earnest hope the lay faithful reading this Forum Quarterly and aware of the grave spiritual crisis looming over the Church in the United States will make every effort to distribute this documentation.