Religion, Faith and Sprituality

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Steve Bannon Might Be Right About The US Bishops And DACA

Charlie Rose interviews Steve Bannon on CBS's 60 Minutes

For people who spend time in the pews actually practicing Catholicism, Steve Bannon’s remarks about “the Catholic Church” and DACA , his contention that the bishops want unlimited immigration as a means for keeping the pews filled, is not wrong. Nor is it a newsflash. Is there any doubt that the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth demands that Catholics turn away from supporting DACA? No. Is the U.S. bishops’s support for DACA something new? No. Is it consistent with their longstanding way of regarding immigrants? No. Do progressive Roman Catholics, and those seriously engaged in social justice ministry embrace a “Christ without borders” vision? Generally speaking, they do. Does “the Catholic Church” as a whole support the continuance of DACA? Hell no. The Catholic Church is various and Catholics are not really all that obedient. As for the USBCC (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops), though it is excruciating to say so—Steve Bannon is right.

My (non-Catholic) husband escorted me to mass recently. We heard a particularly brilliant homilist present his take on the day's Gospel. The DACA question pertained. The priest preached on sacrifice, suffering, the sin of xenophobia and the mandate to welcome the stranger. "Will he get in trouble for that sermon?" the husband asked. "Oh, no!" I answered. "The U.S. Bishops love immigrants." I gesticulated, cupped my upturned hand,  my thumb circulating against the four fingers to indicate: 'Show me the money.' "They have held that position for a long time. "It's the one thing they're progressive about. I believe they're on the right side for the wrong reason."

A priest once told me that one of his favorite aspects of the Catholic Church is how “messy’ the church is. Catholics are, contrary to popular opinion, not all that obedient. On the matter of immigration, there are factions and outliers. Even as they promulgate bigotry on other fronts, the U.S. Bishops have long been solidly pro-immigration.They need look no further than the Gospels for their reasons: the Beatitudes.

But if you pay attention to Roman Catholic outreach throughout the world, you will note that the hierarchy has long been pinning their hopes for "growth"---by which I mean both "increase the fold" growth and economic growth---on China, India and African nations. North America and that Western Europe are hemorrhaging Catholics.  

I was lucky enough to be traveling extensively in Western Europe in 2015 and 2016. While in Ireland I noticed that even during Holy Week in Dublin Catholic churches were half-empty. Catholics in Spain, and Romans in Rome, seemed to view church as a kind of museum designed for  baptisms, weddings and funerals. Over and over again while attending Sunday morning mass in Spain, I found that I, in my 50s, was one of the youngest people on the Communion line. Finding any mass in Spain that wasn’t lousy with Opus Dei Catholics was impossible. (Sorry, I am a staunch anti-Phalangist) and obtaining a seat up front for Easter’s Mass of the Resurrection in Seville’s Cathedral in 2015 was a cinch. This is one woman’s anecdotal sampling, but it confirms what I read and have been hear in twenty years of working in Catholic ministry. The church in Western Europe and North America is shrinking, and the hierarchs have been thinking globally for decades.

In the two dioceses that serve New York City where I live, undocumented folks often rely heavily upon the social justice outreach of the church. Newcomers to our nation find help with housing, education and medical care through the church. Many of the Roman Catholic Churches in New York where built by immigrants and the poorest of them often made enormous financial sacrifices to support their churches. The tabernacle in the New York City church I attend is ornamented with the engagement ring diamonds of pious Irish immigrants. As was the case with my own Irish-born grandparents, immigrants in the church frequently wind up devout and fervently determination to 'pay it forward,' so to speak. In a religion in which non-compliance with doctrine has become something of norm, Catholics who obey, who are, perhaps, afraid not to comply, are the best bet for keeping parishes flush and pews populated. Immigrants often make parish life the center for their lives, and rear their children in the church. Tithing churches are still rare in New York City, but the tithing parishes have Spanish language mass. Undocumented Catholics certainly do not make churches rich, but their allegiance probably does prove profitable in the short, long term, and even the poorest of them often tithe exuberantly.

While traveling in the United States, I often wind up worshipping at masses celebrated in Spanish. I have noticed at these masses, that Latin-American, Spanish-speaking adults (women mores than men) often join the queue for Communion but decline to receive the Eucharist. They approach the altar with their arms crossed upon their chest. This signals their intention to opt out of the sacrament, but receive a blessing. Why don't they receive Communion? They have broken some church law. Maybe they live with a common law spouse and have not been married in the Church, or use contraception. Perhaps they have had abortions. Although there are pastoral resources in the church which assist Catholics with these situations, fear and language barriers often keep the undocumented among them isolated from life in the sacraments. Sometimes such fear promotes such obedience. Whatever its causes, the obedience does not go unnoticed. Bishops and pastors know it can be exploited to useful affect. 

Furthermore, as a consequence of the priest shortage, many priests are immigrants. They arrive with help from the Vatican and obtain proper documentation, but they too have helped to shape the bishops’ disposition toward immigrants.

Progressive Catholics in the post Vatican II Church have always adopted a “Christ without borders” ethos. To their great credit, Roman Catholic diocesan schools in New York City and other U.S. cities have a long history of scrupulously and expertly educating the children of immigrants. They tend to adopt a “What Would Jesus Do?” approach. They, for the most part, are likely opposed to eradicating of DACA---and for the right reasons. Despite that, their hierarchy (the bishops) exploits them.

On the other hand, white, politically conservative and moderate Catholics have tended to focus their politicizing in other directions, the anti-abortion effort, for example. The ultra-conservative fringe---the Traditionalists, the Legionaries, the Church Militant movement---they want “the wall” and a strong leader. Many Roman Catholics aren’t worried about getting through the camel’s eye. They want low taxes and crime-free neighborhoods, and see a crackdown on illegal immigration as one way of obtaining it. Theirs is the "render to Caesar" perspective. 

I believe that the “Christ without borders” is at the heart of Catholic teaching. I do not doubt that some of the U.S. bishops also believe this. But when Charlie Rose and Steve Bannon talk about Cardinal Timothy Dolan, they talk about a man who has hidden money to keep it from being seized for damages/ awards in cases (clergy) sexual assault cases. survivors. They about a prelate who threatened to defund Catholic Charities in the course of a DOMA-related tantrum. (Catholic Charities helps the poor---many of them immigrants, documented and not, to obtain food, clothing, shelter and basic services ). They speak of a cardinal who knew who who alleged sexual assailant and racist Donald Trump was, chuckled at all his jokes and allowed his brother priests to electioneer for the neo-Nazi from their parish pulpits.

Dolan is a big defender of capitalism. Maybe Dolan and his ilk do care about immigrants, but he also cares about the bottom line, and like his brother bishop on the other side of the Brooklyn Bridge, New York's Opus Dei bishop, (of Brooklyn and Queens) Nicholas DiMarzio, he’s focused on “the New Evangelization.” If one studies the pattern of closing schools and parishes, one quickly sees a tendency on he part of these bishops to obtain as many eggs as possible before killing the golden geese. DiMarzio merged poor churches filled with immigrants and other poor folk so as to build himself a second cathedral, who collaborated closely with politicians who spearheaded real estate development agencies (some of) which displaced hundreds of poor and immigrant residents living near his two cathedrals in downtown Brooklyn. DiMarzio is fond of waxing prosaic on "the new evangelization," and immigrants are part of the plan. Does Brooklyn's bishop care about immigrants? Maybe. But not so much as he cares about his piece of the action. They speak of a man who has always spoken out of two sides of his mouth on the matter of LGBTQ Catholics. Indeed the disposition Cardinal Dolan has adopted toward LGBTQ Catholics reveals much about the way economics plays into some of the U.S. Bishops’ social justice perspectives. Why is there currently so robust a push to keep LGBTQ Catholics in he pews even when they are still technically viewed as “disordered,” unable to marry and discouraged /prohibited from receiving the sacraments if they are sexually active? Their lifestyles are bad, but their money is good? It is one thing to speak on behalf of the stranger, the marginalized, the subjugated; and quite another to make the "word" (s) flesh.

I’m no fan of Steve Bannon’s, but even a broken clock…


Michele Somerville 9/7/17 Cambridge, MA

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Trump and the Pope: Both Talk About Justice for Women, But---

So the pope and the man who is, for the moment, the president, met. There's been no lack of post-meet analysis and color commentary, but O, the desire to pile on!

The supreme pontiff has already spoken plainly about Trump. Trump may be a man made in God's image, and the pope may say he doesn't judge anyone, but the pope, who studied Engineering and has a good understanding of Scientific method, has very strong feelings about climate change and the moral obligation humanity has to care for the earth. 

Pope Francis views greed as a sin. Trump is greed incarnate. 

The pope views marriage as sacred. Trump is a sexual predator. Trump seduces married women, admits to grabbing women's genitals without their consent, cheats on his wives, and has been credibly accused of being a sexual assailant. 

Trump sees the poor as losers. The pontiff sees them as children of God and the messages of Hillel, Jesus and the Beatitudes inform his to his view of them. Pope Francis views caring for the poor as a moral imperative. Trump thinks the poor are losers. 

The pontiff appears to be have a truly robust commitment to humility---to what Christians and Buddhists sometimes think of as the spiritually beneficial pouring out of "self." Donald Trump has publically informed that he, like Pope Francis I, is humble. The pope is actually humble. 

Although I tend to object to fat-shaming and view a bit of meat on bones (or voluptas as I used to think of it back when I was a young painter) I was grateful for the pontiffs choice to forcefully imply, before the world, that Trump is a fatty. 

Who knows whether the Supreme Pontiff had a chance to read the New York Magazine piece via which the world learned that at Trumps dinner parties the host receives two scoops of ice cream on his chocolate cream pie while his guests are treated to only one. It is unlikely that Pope Francis cares what kind of physical condition Trump or any human being is in---or how much ice cream anyone has at parties. 

But the pontiff does care about people who are starving, and he knows that Trump is enacting policy that will rob the poor to give to the rich. 

The pope gave Trump a copy of Laudato Si as a gift. Think: nesting dolls of irony. On one hand Trump must know that a signed Papal encyclical will fetch a nice price one day.  On the other, although the English translation is short, straightforward and interesting enough, Trump does not read well enough to get through it. 

If Trump were to enlist help in reading it, he would come away disappointed and possibly enraged.  Laudato Si is, in great part, an argument for adopting radical awareness of the sins to which greed and unconscionable capitalism have led. It's also a book that affirms the perils of climate change. 

Laudato Si is an indictment of all Trump is and for which he stands. If Trump were literate, this gift would have been a colossal insult. Funny/not funny. 

And thats not all the Pope did that might be construed as impolite. He gave the Trump ladies Rosary beads. Presenting a Jewish woman married to an Orthodox Jew with Rosary beads would probably be an insult to any Jew with deep religious feeling. On second thought, they don't care. 

Money is the great God of the Kushners. Not the G-d of many names. Jerusalem and theVatican were backdrops. Think: Kardashians, making memories. 

And what about the head coverings?

As the wife of an Orthodox Jew, Ivanka should be wearing a blonde wig over her bleached hair any time she leaves the house! so I always find it a bit amusing to see this Jewish mama swinging her Keratin and peroxide treated hair all over the world. 

Trump criticized the Michelle Obama for not covering her head. Obama declined because she is a highly intelligent, principled bad-ass thinker who probably respects the religion of Islam and women who elect to cover their heads, but Obama is an actual feminist who has some ideas of her own on the subject of subjugation of women. 

Ivanka and Melanie stand accused of being idiotic Barbie dolls. For them following the lead of Michelle Obama was a way of projecting the "We're feminists" optics. 

Why then did they not carry this feminist message to La Citta Vaticana? 

The reason the Trump women (and Michelle Obama for that matter) wore the Morticia Adams swag to their papal audience is that the Vatican is very strict about what women wear at the Vatican. The Vatican would have objected strenuously, and might not have permitted the women to even enter the pope's quarters.  

Sidebar: I was lucky enough to spend a week and a half in Rome with my eldest daughter, Maria, about six years ago. We spent two full days (of our ultra, extra churches and museum tour) in the Vatican. June in Rome is infernal. We dressed appropriatelyskirts, tank tops---but carried lots of light wraps and  shawls in our bags. 

Maria was 16, stunningly beautiful. With a biting wit. Shed stop at the entrance, glare at the twenty-something Vatican employees whose jobs it was to look the pretty ragazzi up and down to make sure they were covered enough. These diligent men were charged with making sure no bare cleavage, shoulders or thighs made it into the Apostolic Palace. 

“Oh, wait," Maria would say loud enough to be heard, as she wrapped shawls around her waist shoulders and neck. "Let me put on my dignity!” 

For women and girls who didn’t travel with seven veils in their backpacks, the guards had translucent sheets of plastic that females could wrap about their legs arms, bodices and shoulders. These looked liked something the Tom Cruise character would buy in that sex shop scene in the Kubrick film “Eyes Wide Shut.” 

Maria and I joked about how “pervy” it was to see the dignity guards supervising the plastic shrink-wrapping of college girls seeking to gain entrance the Vatican museums so as to view---walls and ceilings full of NUDES!


The Trump women wore black veils because it's the rule. The Vatican is very good about women in their places. This is one of the few things the Pope and Donald Trump have in common. 

Both speak about justice for women. One is a misogynist predator, but both fall short. Talk is cheap.


Follow Michele Somerville at @nypoet on Twitter. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Thoughts on Religious Vocations: An Open Letter to Pope Francis I



May 5, 2017
His Holiness, Pope Francis PP.
00120 Via del Pellegrino
Citta del Vaticano



Most Holy Father:

I write to you as a Catholic mother, wife, writer, teacher and student of my own Roman Catholic faith. I write this as “an open letter.”

Like so many of my fellow Roman Catholics, I pray, this week, with a special focus on vocations.

Like so many of my fellow Roman Catholics I have celebrated, lately, the possibility that you may be considering loosening the celibacy requirement for our priests. While recognizing that some who are called to the priesthood view celibacy a gift, I know that for many priests, celibacy is not a gift.

I know that we already have married priests in our church, and that for (roughly) the first half of Church history, priests married. I know too that most of our married priests come to us from other traditions as “vir probati.” Having served as priests in their original traditions, they convert, undertake preparation for Holy Orders and are ordained into the Apostolic Succession by the Vatican.

I come to thinking about the question of married priests with a belief that sexuality when infused with respect, commitment and love, is a gift from God. As a Catholic poet, I have long admired the sacred eroticism found in the verse of our Catholic mystic poets. Erotic love has the potential to remind us of God’s passion love for us. Sensuality, which, of course goes beyond sex, permeates Catholic life.

As a woman married for more than thirty years, who has been blessed with three (now grown) children, and who has persevered in a marriage that has, at times, been profoundly troubled, I can attest to the power marriage can have to catalyze spiritual growth, and increase maturity, gratitude, devotion and faith. So too, has being a parent intensified my faith and belief. I have, for example, always loved, enjoyed and respected children. But motherhood increased my concern for the earth children born today will inherit, that created world Your Holiness so lyrically praised in Laudato Si !

For these reasons, I celebrate the possibility that we might soon see more and more married priests serving on our altars.

As a feminist Catholic, however, I feel conflicted.

I believe that to explore the ordination of married priests without casting even a glance in the direction of the many women who are called to ordination sends an excruciating message to Catholic women and the world beyond The Church.

I know that Your Holiness has affirmed Saint John Paul II’s teaching that the door is closed on the discussion of ordaining women, but we are a Church of miracles and I continue to pray for the day girls holding their mothers’ hands at Sunday mass will no longer have cause to feel somehow unfit to answer the call to ordination.

I believe that the tradition of upholding papal rulings of Your Holiness’s immediate predecessors and the fear of schism account for the refusal to even allow a dialogue among Catholic scholars and theologians of the question of ordaining women. I am no expert on my church but I love to read and I know that almost always the choice to silence opposition in questions of justice is a response driven by fear.

Still, I hold out hope that a shift in the Vatican’s disposition towards married (male) priests might, in time, lead to a more expansive view of ordaining women. I hold out hope that the Divine light of a pure truth might, in time,  push through the door the advance of married priests has left a bit ajar.

I understand that increasing the number of married priests will facilitate the assigning priests to regions where Catholics currently lack access to sacraments and the celebration of Mass. That is so very necessary; ironically, in many of those priest-free communities, it is women who are keeping Catholic faith and tradition alive. Are they not fit for ordination?

I am familiar with the argument that excluding women from the priesthood not a matter of “fitness.” Canon Law clearly requires that ordinands be “baptized men.” That same body of (Canon) law also prohibits married men from serving as priests.

Saint John Paul II broke Canon Law as it pertains to ordination when he began to allow married priests from Eastern Rites and Episcopal traditions to become Roman Catholic priests.

I know that arguments advanced by Pope Benedict XVI and Saint John Paul II, and promulgated via Saint Pope John Paul II’s 1994 Apostolic letter, Ordinatio Sacredotalis put an end to the debate about ordaining women. But we kept talking.

Your Holiness has reiterated the claim that the Church lacks the authority to ordain women.

I believe the Church does have the authority to ordain women, and that the Church not only has the authority to ordain women, but also the obligation to do so.

I recognize that it falls to the Magisterium (the teaching Office of the Church) to distinguish, for the benefit of Catholics, between man-made (ecclesiastical) law and Divine law” (law handed down by God). The Magisterium currently holds that Divine Law prohibits the ordination of women.

“Divine Law” can change, because we know that Divine Law has, on rare occasions throughout history, changed.

A strong tradition whereby Supreme Pontiffs uphold teaching promulgated by their immediate predecessors exists in our church, but I believe this tradition is a poor reason for perpetuating injustice and bigotry.  Certainly there is some teaching advanced by your papal predecessors which Your Holiness would refuse to uphold.

Like so many Catholics and non-Catholics I celebrate your readiness, Your Holiness, to put God and conscience before (both civil and ecclesiastical) politics.

A Church that refuses to ordain women, has no standing in preaching against bigotry. How can we (The Church) condemn misogyny and prejudice with so great a log in our eye? Are we not called to teach by example?

As Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” “an unjust law is no law at all.” The Church is not a state. I believe a Church which emphatically embraces a “separate but equal” approach its most holy sacraments compromises or forfeits entirely its right to condemn sexist, “separate but equal” and discriminatory practices in our temporal, political world.

I believe that all injustice goes against Christ.

The law which stipulates that priests must be male is an unjust law.

I notice that many people both within and outside of the Church do not fully see how strong the principle of the female divine is in our Church. I am thinking of the powerful legacy of our women Church doctors and saints, and our devotion to the Mary. I think these have kept many Roman Catholic feminists who might otherwise depart the church, engaged and active in Catholicism.

We (women) are often reminded, by proponents of a male-only priesthood, that there are many ways in which women can serve in our Church. These do not much mitigate the long and deep discrimination at hand.

It is true that strength of the presence of the Female Divine Principle has been forcefully present in Catholic scholarship, worship and art. It is true that there are many Roman Catholic women who do not object in the least to the bigotry keeps an all-male priesthood in place. However, with all due respect, Your Holiness, I have come to believe that Vatican’s failure to rigorously address the issue of women’s ordination is a sin.

We cannot engage in oppression engaging in it. We cannot claim moral high ground on matters of social justice when we practice sexism and misogyny in our own church. The secular world needs to hear our voice of justice and peace but when it comes to discrimination against women, our fish appears to the world to rot from the head down.

In the past year, you have said so much about the need to increase women’s leadership in the Church. I was so grateful to see so much discussion of women in Amoris Laetitia. Your Holiness has not been blind to the extent to which women’s work is already keeping churches afloat and operating. Your Holiness has taken special note, radical note, really, of the gifts of women.

But I am not sure that any man, even one so full of devotion and love as Your Holiness, can understand how it feels to be a girl growing up in a church, asking for the first time, “Why are there no women priests?”

I have been blessed with the opportunity to sponsor three young women in Confirmation and, truly, discussing the all-male priesthood with the confirmands in my care has been discouraging and demoralizing.

In New York City where I live, women deliver the Eucharist to the sick, clean churches, teach in Catholic schools, minister to the sick and dying in Catholic hospitals, serve as cantors at mass, proclaim readings on altars and distribute the Eucharist at mass. Even in very conservative parishes, one sees more women than men on altars and in the pews. In recent years, I have had the great privilege to take part in masses in Europe and in Mexico where, even in very traditional Roman Catholic communities, I have seen more women than men both on the altar and in the pews.

In one interview a few years back, Your Holiness characterized women as “the strawberries on the cake.”  I confess, that I would probably find this remark charming coming from Your Holiness, were it not for the backwards and excruciating tradition of our Church to persist in declining to honor the priestly vocations of women.

News broke this week that the president of my nation will soon enjoy an audience with Your Holiness. Donald Trump is a man who has shown profound disrespect for the poor, school children and women. How I wish our Church might have full moral authority to chastise Donald Trump for his bigotry and misogyny. How I wish there were no log in our eye.

I believe that if the world survives the current United States president, the Vatican will , in time, ordain women.
But When?

When it becomes an economic necessity and the survival of the Church depends upon it. And not a moment earlier.

I wish it were otherwise. I wish justice and not expedience might be the cause for such a shift.

I am often asked, by non-Catholic friends about the Vatican’s reasoning for refusing to honor the vocations of women who are called to serve as priests. I answer that because they are Christ’s semblance on earth, priests must, according to Catholic teaching, be men.

But Jesus was also a brown Palestinian Jew who came of age in the Temple. Why, then, does the Church ordain red-headed Irishmen and uncircumcised Nigerians?

I note the claim that there were no women “apostles.” But there are places in the New Testament (Paul) where women are called apostles. Most Catholics agree that there were women disciples.

I mention the concept of the Church as “mother,” and that priests are called “the bridegroom” of the church., that nuns are often been called “Brides of Christ.” Are not all priests, in some metaphorical senses, spouses of both Christ and the Church? Christian scripture and cosmology are rich with metaphor. The metaphor of the bridegroom, lovely as it is, assumes a taint when it is used in the service of prejudice.

As a poet I know that poetry should expand our souls not to bind us to injustice.

Some traditional Catholics point to the order of the priests of Melchizedek, who was called to the priesthood but not born into it (born being more the norm). The Jewish priesthood of antiquity was indeed restricted to men, but Christianity discarded much of Jewish religious in short time. Jesus of Nazareth labored on the Sabbath, ate at unclean tables and prayed with women---all of which were forbidden by Jewish law. And the Hebrew priests were not rabbis; they collected tithes and presided over the Temple. The modern-day Jewish counterpart to a Roman Catholic cleric is a “rabbi,” the word Magdalen is believed (by Christians) to have used in addressing Jesus.  

Catholics who favor a woman-free priesthood like to cite the putative absence of women at The Lord’s Supper (The Last Supper). Were women present at the last supper? Those who claim to know for certain speak dishonestly. The Gospels do not tell us that women were absent from The Lord’s Supper. As a woman who has prepared a Passover Seder every year for the last three decades, I find it hard to believe that no women were present for the blessing and breaking of the bread. Women have special obligations relative to Preparation Day and the Pesach meal. (Who cooked?)

It seems important for those accepting the argument that women were absent from the Last Supper “on faith” to bear in mind the margin of error involved (problems of translation, the “as told to” aspects of the scriptures, etc.) in documenting this holy event, and that men shaped by their time---the Roman Empire, The Dark and Middle Ages, the Western Europe of the Inquisitions---presided over the translating and codifying of the Christian Bible.

When, while explaining to non-Catholics the reason for our all-male clergy, I come to the Canon Code aspect of our failure to ordain women, I explain that the Canon Code---the same body of law that forbids the ordination of married men---forbids the ordaining of women.   

I tell non-Catholics who query me the truth; there is no legitimate justification for denying women Roman Catholic ordination. I tell them it goes against Jesus.

Recently, in the United States, women held a protest dubbed “a day without women.” Women took to the streets. It was problematic. Poor women with employment outside their homes lacked the liberty to join. Teachers of children felt obliged to work that day. Women with small children, and women who take care of children---whether their own or the children of others---found themselves constrained.

This “ Day Without Women” occurred at the beginning of the second week of Lent. The timing prompted me to wonder how a Lent without women might look?

What if, in the name of Jesus and his Mother Mary, all Roman Catholic women and men joined forces to give up church for Lent?

What if women and their allies decided to give up singing in church choirs, teaching in Catholic schools, attending mass, tithing, serving on altars, receiving sacraments, preparing students for sacraments, working as administrators, cleaners and secretaries in churches and working in church-sponsored ministries. What if women gave up Church for Lent? What if all Catholic, feminist women, who would, no doubt, enjoy great support among their male allies, decided, on moral grounds and in Christ’s name, to be absent from mass?

What if every Roman Catholic feminist in the world were to give up tithing for Lent?

The synoptic Gospels do appear to inform us that Jesus of prayed with women, travelled with women, included women in his ministry, was accompanied by women as he died on the cross, and was greeted by woman on the morning of the Resurrection.

It is not just women who wait outside that door Saint John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI slammed shut, Your Holiness. Jesus is standing at that door.

I am not an expert on my church. I am a Catholic mother, wife, poet and teacher. I write to knowing that such addresses as this one are highly “unorthodox.” I recognize that Your Holiness is unlikely to read these words.
I wish to express my gratitude for all that Your Holiness has done to bring authentic Christian teaching to our contemporary world.

Pax Christi!

Sincerely,
Michele Madigan Somerville
New York City, US

May 5, 2017