Posts Tagged Joan Chittister

For real change, we must get at four roots deeper than church structures / National Catholic Reporter

There must be repentance. There must be accountability. There must be reform. Good. And that looks like what? (Joan Chittister in National Catholic Reporter)

In the midst of the angst that has accompanied the revelation of unparalleled amounts of sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church, the cry for reform gets louder by the day.

“For some, it’s a call for the elimination of celibacy as an unnatural and therefore impossible way of life. For others, it’s about barring homosexuals from the priesthood, as if homosexuality was in essence a model of immorality rather than simply another state of nature — just like heterosexuality with its own immoral aberrations. For many, it’s about a lack of psychosocial development in seminaries; for others, it’s about the liberalization of the church since the Second Vatican Council, no matter that the bulk of assaults happened, apparently, before the end of the council.

“Indeed, there are as many explanations for this crisis in morals, spirituality, church and trust as there are people, dioceses, parents, priests, lawyers, whomever. But there is one element on which everyone seems to agree: There must be repentance. There must be accountability. There must be reform.

“Good. And that looks like what?”

By Joan Chittister, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Francis invites change, but we are the change / National Catholic Reporter

“It’s the average layperson living out the faith in the temper of the times who shapes the future. It is the visionary teacher, the loving critic, the truth-telling prophet that moves the church from one age to another.” (Joan Chittister in National Catholic Reporter)

There was a time in life when I wanted things done and wanted them done now. I still want things done now but over the course of the years, I discovered that, at least where the church is concerned, I was looking for action in the wrong places. As Sean Freyne, the Irish theologian and Scripture scholar, put it, ‘It’s a mistake to think that a pope has the power to do anything.’ Translation: The right to reign as an autocrat, to take unilateral action about almost anything, does not come with the miter and crossed keys. Nor, for that matter, does it come with the capes and crosses of bishops.

“Popes and bishops, I have come to realize, are the maintainers of the tradition of the church. When they move, it is commonly with one eye on the past — the point at which lies safe canonical territory. Only we are the real changers of the church.

“It’s the average layperson living out the faith in the temper of the times who shapes the future. It is the visionary teacher, the loving critic, the truth-telling prophet that moves the church from one age to another. It was those who had to negotiate the new economy who came to see fair interest on investments as the virtue of prudence rather than the sin of usury, for instance. It was those caught in abusive relationships who came to realize that divorce could be a more loving decision than a destructive family situation.

“And yet, the manner in which popes and bishops move, the open ear they bring to the world, the heart they show, and the love and leadership they model can make all the difference in the tone and effectiveness of the church.”

By Joan Chittister, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Ordination of married men would cause other major changes within the church / National Catholic Reporter

The question of the theology of ordination to the priesthood just isn’t going to go away.

“First, in a meeting with Italian priests in Rome in February, the pope, they tell us, said that he is going to put the topic of the ordination of married men ‘into his diary.’ Meaning on his list of subjects to be — what? Addressed? Discussed? Opened to consideration? Promised? The possibilities are tantalizing.

“In countries where some Catholic communities never see a priest more than once a year, the implications of a new and developing clergy — a married clergy as well as a celibate clergy — conjure up images of a church choosing to be vital and viable again.

“In the United States itself, as well as in far off rural outposts, parishes are closing at a great rate. In fact, the very superstructure of the church of the ’50s — its community-building impact, its services and ministries, its vibrant witness — is dimming. People drive miles to go to Mass now or don’t go at all. They volunteer in civic agencies now rather than in parish ministries because there are few or no church projects impactful enough to demand their commitment. Instead, the church, where there is one, has become a private devotion.

“But if Pope Francis takes the question of married men seriously, that could, for a change, lead to real change.”

By Joan Chittister, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this column.

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The ending should have been the beginning / Global Sisters Report – National Catholic Reporter

I learned somewhere that ‘All spirit starts at the top.’ The attribution may be apocryphal, perhaps, but in this case true, nevertheless.

“Tuesday, in fact, I saw the truth of that with my own eyes.

“Tuesday’s release of the final report on the apostolic visitation of American nuns launched in 2008 by Cardinal Franc Rodé, then prefect of the congregation for religious life, takes on a completely different tone than at its inception …

“Like the drop of a medieval guillotine ordered from above and subject to no review, the harsh imposition of the process was met by appropriate resistance from one end of the country to the other …

“Nevertheless, today, six years later, under Cardinal João Bráz de Aviz, this final report issued in response to that national evaluation has all but leached out the negative and punitive spirit that unloosed it. The spirit at the top has changed. The tone has changed. The degree of collaboration has changed …

“In fact, Tuesday’s report, with its recognition of the momentous effect of the American sisterhood on the development of the church in the United States, is precisely the document that should have opened the discussion rather than ended it.”

By Joan Chittister, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read this entire article.

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Cry out, sisters; cry out / National Catholic Reporter

Next week, Aug. 12-15, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents more than 50,000 U.S. women religious, will meet for their 2014 National Assembly. LCWR has been under Vatican mandate to change for two years. Here is Sister Joan Chittister and Sister Mary Lou Kownacki’s take on the nuns’ situation.

Cry out, sisters; cry out

Next week, for instance, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious will face decisions that will move the question of the agency of women in a man’s church either forward or back. Strange as it may seem in the 21st century, the issue is whether or not women are capable of hearing diverse speakers and still remain faithful Catholics. The issue is whether or not women religious may discuss various points of view on major issues and still remain faithful Catholics. The issue is whether or not women religious can manage their own organizations and still be faithful Catholics. The Vatican’s answer to those questions is no. For the last 45 years, however, LCWR’s answer to those same questions has been a clear and persistent yes.”

By Joan Chittister, Mary Lou Kownacki, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.

Support the sisters by offering prayers for an appropriate resolution to this situation. You can click here to access the Nun Justice Project’s prayer resources. You will also find there an open letter to Pope Francis, asking him to intervene and “to remove the unjust mandates imposed on LCWR over two years ago.” You can download the letter and mail it to the Pope.

Voice of the Faithful’s support for our sisters is unflagging.

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