Friday, July 16, 2010

How to make the transition from the old to the new paradigm

Leonardo Boff's weekly columns are available in Spanish from Servicios Koinonia. Some of his older columns are available in English at

by Leonardo Boff (English translation by Rebel Girl)

We already take the demolition by criticism of the system of capitalist production and consumption along with the materialistic culture that accompanies it, as accomplished. Either we will overcome it historically or it will put humans at great risk.

The solution to the crisis can not come from the very system that has caused it. As Einstein said, "the thinking that created the problem can not be the same one that will solve it." We are forced to think differently if we want a future for ourselves and for the biosphere. As much as the crises worsen, such as in the euro zone, speculative greed doesn't let up.

The dramatic nature of our situation lies in the fact that we have no alternative that is strong and developed enough to replace the current system. We should not therefore abandon the dream of another world that is possible and necessary. The feeling we experience has been well expressed by the Italian thinker Antonio Gramsci: "the old is dying and the new cannot be born."

But everywhere in the world there is a wide seeding of alternatives, new styles of living, different ways of production and consumption. Dreams of another type of geosociety are being projected, putting into action many groups and movements, hoping that something new may emerge from within the old eroded system. This global movement gained visibility in the World Social Forums and recently in the Peoples' Summit for the Rights of Mother Earth, held in April 2010 in Cochabamba (Bolivia).

History is not linear. It is made by ruptures caused by the accumulation of energy, ideas and projects that at a given time introduce a new break and then the new bursts forth with sufficient strength to achieve hegemony over all other forces. A new era is then inaugurated and a new story begins.

Until this happens, we have to be realistic. On the one hand, we must seek alternatives to avoid being held hostage by the old system, and on the other, we are required to be within it, to continue producing, despite the contradictions, to meet human demands. Otherwise, we would not avoid a collective collapse with dramatic effects.

Therefore, we should walk on both legs: one resting on the ground of the old system and the other on new ground, emphasizing the latter. The big challenge is how to process the transition from a consumerist system that puts stress on nature and sacrifices people to a system that sustains all life in harmony with Mother Earth, respecting the limits of each ecosystem and with an equitable distribution of the natural and industrial goods we have produced. Exchanging ideas in Cochabamba with the well-known Belgian sociologist François Houtart, one of the keen observers of the current transformations, we concurred on these points for the transition from old to new.

Our Southern hemisphere countries must first fight, even within the current system, for environmental standards and regulations that preserve the natural goods and services as much as possible, and address their use in a socially responsible manner.

Secondly, the countries of the deep South, especially Brazil, should not accept being reduced to mere exporters of raw materials, but should incorporate technologies that give added value to their products, create technological innovations and orient their economies towards the domestic market.

Third, they should require importing countries to pollute as little as possible and contribute financially to the preservation and environmental regeneration of the natural assets that matter.

Fourth, they should get more rigorous international environmental legislation for those who least respect the precepts of socially just, ecologically sustainable production, those who relax the adaptation and mitigation of global warming and introduce protectionist measures in their economies.
The most important, however, is forming a coalition of forces starting with governments, institutions, churches, centers of research and thought, social movements, NGOs and all kinds of people around collectively shared values and principles, well expressed in the Earth Charter, the Declaration on the Rights of the Mother Earth or in the Universal Declaration of Common Good of the Earth and Humanity (basic text of a beginning project on reinventing the UN) and the Living Well of the original cultures of the Americas.

From these values and principles, one expects the creation of global institutions and, who knows, the organization of global governance which would have as its purpose to preserve the integrity and vitality of Mother Earth, ensuring the conditions of the life-system, eradicating hunger and preventable diseases, and building the conditions for lasting peace among peoples and with Mother Earth.

Coordinated response to Vatican on women's ordination

ACT NOW: For those who want to add their voices against the Vatican's latest insult to women seeking ordination, Women's Ordination Conference has started an online petition which you can sign here.

This morning, a multinational coalition of 27 Catholic groups issued a statement denouncing the Vatican for adding "attempted ordination of a woman" to the list of "delicta graviora," and expressing solidarity with those who seek equality for women in the Church.

We, the undersigned, express our solidarity with Catholics who continue to seek equality, including those who practice feminist ministries and those who are ordained. We know these women and men to be firm in their faith and courageous in their work as they seek an inclusive and accountable church, undeterred by threats of excommunication or other canonical penalties. In addition, we stand with our brother priests and bishops who are also being threatened by this new policy for their support of women's equality in the church. Furthermore, we take great offense that good faith struggles for gender equality could be misunderstood as a sacrilege and placed on par with the sexual abuse of children. In 1976, the Vatican's own Pontifical Biblical Commission concluded there is no valid scriptural reason for denying ordination to women. Therefore, we welcome such efforts to expand the scope and variety of ministry and we celebrate women's faithfulness despite huge institutional obstacles.

We are gravely disappointed that the Vatican would largely repackage its sexual abuse policy norms from 2001 in yesterday's re-issued statement without adding many meaningful changes to canonical procedures on how to handle the sexual crimes of its religious leaders. We stand with survivors in calling for the release of the names of all credibly accused Catholic religious leaders and for the Vatican's immediate adoption and implementation of global child protection policies. Nothing less is adequate to the crying needs of a community torn asunder by its own leaders' crimes.

Catholic Organization Signatories

Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church (ARCC), USA
Patrick B. Edgar, D.P.A., M.Div., President

BASIC (Brothers And Sisters In Christ), Ireland.
Contact: Una Ruddock
+353 1 621 6816

Marianne Duddy-Burke, Executive Director,

Call To Action, USA
Jim FitzGerald, Executive Director

Catholics for Choice- Canada
Rosemary Ganley, Coordinator

Catholic Coalition for Church Reform, USA
Paula Ruddy, Bernie Rodel, Michael Bayly, Co-chairs
(612) 379-1043

Catholic Network for Women's Equality, Canada
Paula MacQuarrie, Coordinator

Contact: William Manseau

Corriente Somos Iglesia, Spain
Raquel Mallavibarrena, Coordinator
+34 649332654

Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir, Mexico
Maria Consuelo Mejia, Director
+5255 5658 1163

Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir, Spain
Mar Grandal, President
352 88946

8th Day Center for Justice - Women's Group, USA

Femmes et Hommes en Eglise / Genre en Christianisme, France
Danielle Penuel-Monneron, President
(0)2 33 90 78 10

Institute for Feminism and Religion, Ireland.
Mary Condren, Th.D., Director

Interreligious Conference of European Women Theologians
Lee Wax, Coordinator
0044-208 884 0476

Kerk Hardop, Netherlands
Marleen Wijdeveld, President
Isaac Wüst, Editor-in-Chief

National Coalition of American Nuns, USA
Contact: Donna Quinn

Noi Siamo Chiesa (Italian Section of IMWAC), Italy
Contact: Vittorio Bellavite

Nous sommes Aussi l'Eglise, France
Lucienne Gouguenhem, Vice-President
33 1 45 88 04 92

Pax Christi Maine, USA
Bill Slavick, Coordinator

Conatct: Gloria Ulterino

Roman Catholic Faith Community Council of the Federation of Christian Ministries
William J. Manseau, Evelyn Hunt, and Thomas Quinn, Co-Chairs

Roman Catholic Women Priests, Europe-West.
I. Riedl, Coordinator
0049-089 845 830

Roman Catholic Womenpriests-USA, Inc
Contact: Alice Iaquinta

Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER), USA
Mary E. Hunt and Diann L. Neu, Co-directors
301 589-2509

Women's Ordination Conference, USA
Erin Saiz Hanna, Executive Director

WomenPriests.Org, International
Therese Koturbash, Coordinator
+44 (0)1923 779 446

Photo: Rev. Mary Ann Schoettly, Catholic woman priest, gives Communion in New Jersey.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Women's ordination is now a "grave delict"

Here is the text of the modification with respect to women's ordination in the Normae de Gravioribus Delictis as officially promulgated today.

Art. 5

The more grave delict of the attempted sacred ordination of a woman is also reserved to the

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:

1° With due regard for can. 1378 of the Code of Canon Law, both the one who attempts to confer sacred ordination on a woman, and she who attempts to receive sacred ordination, incurs a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See.

2° If the one attempting to confer sacred ordination, or the woman who attempts to receive sacred ordination, is a member of the Christian faithful subject to the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, with due regard for can. 1443 of that Code, he or she is to be punished by major excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See.

3° If the guilty party is a cleric he may be punished by dismissal or deposition 31.

And here is a reponse from Rev. Bridget Mary Meehan of Roman Catholic Womenpriests:

The ordination of women may soon appear on the list of most serious crimes against Roman Catholic canon law, or "delicta graviora" – putting it in the same category as sexual abuse of children by priests, according to a recent leak from unidentified priests in the Vatican.

Roman Catholic Womenpriests respond to the Vatican’s equating women’s ordination with pedophilia by priests, by demanding the Vatican affirm women's full equality in the church including priestly ministry. We demand an end to misogyny in the Catholic Church. We demand that the Vatican adopt reforms to transform church laws and practices to reflect transparency, accountability, justice and equality for all.

Roman Catholic Womenpriests believe that the forthcoming document from the Vatican is intended to specifically scare off male priests who choose to walk in solidarity with us for justice for women in our church. Priests like Roy Bourgeois, Maryknoll priest of 38 years, founder of the School of the Americas Watch and 2010 nominee for the Nobel Prize for Peace. Bourgeois participated in the ordination of Janice Sevre-Duszynska in Lexington, Kentucky, on Aug. 9, 2008.

We are welcomed with open arms and hearts by the people at the grassroots of the church. Yet, our brother priests -- the Vatican’s all-male hierarchy -- in May 2008, declared that we and the person ordaining us would be self-excommunicating ourselves. The Vatican has also said that anyone who attends ordinations would be excommunicated. That threat has not deterred the faithful who come in droves to Roman Catholic women’s ordinations all over the United States. Roman Catholic Womenpriests numbers have erupted from seven to over 100 in the last eight years since the first ordination in 2002 on the Danube in Europe. The Vatican continues to respond to women’s ordinations with condemnation of everyone who supports the movement for women priests within the Catholic Church. However, Womenpriests are being supported widely by the hundreds of Catholics attending every public ordination.

The Roman Catholic Womenpriests wonder how answering a spiritual call to serve through priesthood could possibly be in the same category of “sin” as pedophilia. Instead of the many excommunications and condemnations the Vatican issues against women priests and their supporters, it would be better to take responsibility for the damaging behaviors of patriarchy especially the abuse of spiritual power. We suggest that the Vatican begin this process of reconciliation and renewal by listening to the pain of those who suffer from clergy abuse: nuns, women priests, and lay women in the Church who have been as much victims of the church as the survivors of sexual abuse.

RCWP asks the member states of the United Nations to support us in our quest for justice for women within the Roman Catholic Church and for justice for victims of Catholic clergy sexual abuse. It is unjust and discriminatory that the males at the Vatican continue to deny us employment and decision-making within the Roman Catholic Church. This behavior is a violation of international law, our human rights, the example of Jesus and the integrity of conscience.

And from the Women's Ordination Conference:

"The Vatican's decision list women’s ordination in the same category as pedophiles and rapists is appalling, offensive, and a wake-up call for all Catholics around the world. This new canonical declaration which names women's ordination as a serious crime against the Roman Catholic Church is medieval at best. The idea that a woman seeking to spread the message of God somehow "defiles" the Eucharist reveals an antiquated, backwards Church that still views women as "unclean" and unholy.

It is clear this recent decision was made out of fear of our growing numbers. The Vatican is using this attempt to extinguish the widespread call for women's equality in the church. In a statement published on May 29, 2008 in L'Observatorio Romano, the Vatican's official newspaper, all women who "attempt ordination" and the bishops who ordain them are automatically excommunicated, known as latae sententiae. Adding delicta gravioria as a scare tactic to already "excommunicated" women and the priests who support us is ridiculous and does not make a bit of difference. Excommunication will not work, and neither will this. In the face of one closed door after another, Catholic women will continue to make a way when there is none. We will continue to speak out. And women will continue to prophetically answer their call to priestly ordination with or without the Vatican's approval.

Furthermore, we are extremely disheartened that the Vatican did not appropriately use this opportunity to meaningfully address the handling of sexual predators in its ranks. While some strides were made in this revision the 2001 sexual abuse policy, it does not go far enough. We are calling on our members to take action: express their concern and call for real accountability by demanding that the hierarchy release the names of all accused Catholic leaders; reach out to survivors and take steps to make sure children are protected now; and, discontinue all financial contributions that benefit the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops."

According to Roman Catholic Womenpriests, more women's ordinations are scheduled for Santa Barbara, California in September 2010 and Quebec, Canada in October. So, as Dr. Mary Hunt, feminist theologian and co-founder and co-director of the Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER), concludes in her response to the Vatican's latest slap, "while the Vatican staff is busy translating its latest dictum into various languages, Catholic people, with the help of our friends, are living new models of Church. We do so in the hope that we might salvage the heart of the tradition we value, even while the institution persists in its own demise."

Photo: Rev. Bridget Mary Meehan (center, in yellow stole) presides at Mass

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Documentary about the women's ordination movement

Pink Smoke Over the Vatican (Eye Goddess Films) is a documentary film about the controversial movement of women seeking ordination in the Roman Catholic Church. Long forbidden by the Church, this international movement is growing in size, and in the public eye, as news coverage widens and the threat to the Vatican grows. More and more Catholic women are answering a spiritual calling to take on the vestments of priesthood and seek equality in the religion they love. These daring women have risked banishment, loss of livelihood, and even excommunication to take part in what the Church calls illicit ordinations. The Vatican has vowed to end this threat to the male hierarchy, even forbidding the mere discussion of female priests.

The film also looks at the state of the Church and why the leadership of women’s voices are critical to the revitalization, even the survival, of the Roman Catholic Church. This film is topical, unique, and controversial. The papacy has reached a time of crisis and the controversy over women's role, and their place in the Church, must be addressed if the Vatican is to have any relevance in the 21st century.

The voices of these women must be heard.

Hispanic Theological Initiative Announces 2010 Book Award and Lecture

An anonymous commenter on this blog told me about this event and, though I can't attend myself, I felt it -- and the book that is receiving the award -- were important enough to share with our viewers directly. Below is Princeton's press release about it with some added hyperlinks for those who want to go further...

The Hispanic Theological Initiative (HTI) at Princeton Theological Seminary has announced that Dr. Michael E. Lee, assistant professor of theology at Fordham University, will receive its annual book prize for 2010. The prize, awarded for his book Bearing the Weight of Salvation: The Soteriology of Ignacio Ellacuría (The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2009), will be presented at HTI’s fourteenth annual summer workshop at Princeton Seminary on Saturday, July 17.

Lee will give a public lecture on the topic of “Head to Ground: Ignacio Ellacuría’s Theology and Praxis” that evening at 7:00 p.m. in Stuart Hall, Room 6, on the Seminary’s main campus. Responding to the lecture will be Dr. Gustavo Gutiérrez, John Cardinal O’Hara Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. Fr. Gutiérrez wrote the foreword to Dr. Lee's book.

A scholarly work that is almost archival in its depth of research, yet clearly written, Lee’s winning entry presents a wonderful introduction in English to the Jesuit priest’s philosophical and theological itinerary. The author, well aware of the extensive writings by others on the same subject matter, is careful in attempting to present how liberation theologies in general, and Ellacuría’s specifically, can converse with the scholarship of this millennium. With its clear and coherent focus, the book is capable of becoming the standard study for a generation invested in the works of liberation theology.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be followed by a reception in the Main Lounge of the Mackay Campus Center. For more information, contact HTI at 609.252.1721 or visit

The Hispanic Theological Initiative manages the newly developed Hispanic Theological Initiative Consortium, made up of eighteen prestigious Ph.D.-granting institutions. Together their mission is to increase the recruitment, retention, and graduation rates of Latina/o Ph.D. students across the nation, and to provide forums to exchange best practices to address the needs of Latina/o faculty and students in theological and religious education. The program provides doctoral-level students with mentoring, workshops, and networking funds. HTI is funded by Lilly Endowment Inc., and Princeton Theological Seminary.