The Vatican Strikes Back

I follow Natalia Imperatori Lee. Not in a weird way. But on twiiter. Brilliant and witty, faith-filled and feminist, when there is trouble she has the uncanny ability to drive home a point with koan-like precision -- in 280 characters or less! So, when news about the desecration of the sacred carving of a pregnant woman that was blessed by Pope Francis came out, she tweeted, "Destroying other people's icons comes from a place of deep fear, not of the power of those icons, but of the weakness and brittleness of what you call your "faith." Also, colonialism is a helluva drug. Still."

Uh-huh. Say it again, sister!

The day after the dirty deed, the Vatican responded accusing conservative media for fomenting hate.

"In the name of tradition and doctrine, an effigy of maternity and the sacredness of life was dumped in contempt,” said Andrea Tornielli, the Vatican’s editorial director.

Tornielli said the incident was a “violent and intolerant gesture” and that the thieves had “passed from hate on social media to action”. He said it was shocking that one conservative Catholic website headlined its story on the theft “Justice is Served.”

Jamie Manson, no stranger to misogyny wrote:

“This faction, who believe that a woman's mandatory vocation in life is motherhood, were disgusted by a pregnant belly. These extremists, who have as one of their ultimate goals the control of women's fertility, were scandalized by a symbol of fertility.

These "militants," who claim to be fervently pro-life, were revolted by a symbol of the gift of life.”

National Catholic Reporter also posted a strong condemnation.

Their [the symbols of faith] desecration in Rome, apparently by ecclesial thugs, was a despicable act and should be condemned by all. Nothing is yet known of the motivation of those who actually committed the theft and destruction, but a video appearance on far right Catholic websites and the cheering from that corner of the church certainly raises legitimate suspicion.

The ugliness of racism, misogyny and colonialism continues online without abatement and, in the press room without any apparent good 'ole Catholic guilt.

These sowers of discord show up each day with a "business as usual" attitude and sit among the journalists taking every opportunity to spin their conspiracy theories and demand answers to the most ridiculous accusations.

Since I can't take the mic away, I concentrate on the words of many Catholics of integrity who see through this bunch.

And I think...

Natalia, you are right. "Colonialism is one helluva drug. Still."

The Final Days of the Synod Are Upon Us

Today, Sr. Roselei Bertoldo, I.C.M., an expert in human trafficking from Brazil; Bishop Gilberto Alfredo Vizcarra Mori, S.I., of Peru; Bishop Ricardo Ernesto Centellas Guzmán, President of the Bishops' Conference in Bolivia; S.E. Mons. Zenildo Luiz Pereira da Silva, C.SS.R., of Brazil; and Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Mumbai, India joined the panel.

Synod Process

Paolo Ruffini explained that the small groups had completed their work in offering amendments to the final document and that the final document would be voted on on Saturday afternoon.

Human Trafficking

Sr. Roselie spoke about her work in preventing human trafficking and the body as a commodity. She said trafficking is an "invisible" crime that intersects with drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, and domestic enslavement. For instance, girls from indigenous communities are lured by the promise that they will be able to study. Instead, they become child laborers. They are trapped.

Learning from Indigenous peoples

Bishop Gilberto Alfredo Vizcarra Mori, S.I., of Perú spoke about the joy of opening to other cultures. "You have to give up your mindset and open to wonder and surprise."

He said that he decided to walk with the people and to immerse himself in their lives. So he spent fifteen days walking to visit the communities where there had been conflict and spent time with them.

"I didn't go there to teach them," he said. "I depended on them to teach me."

"And I came out of these experiences very surprised by how far we are from the indigenous people," he remarked.

He continued:

Once you actually live in the forest, you begin to understand what the biome actually means. The lives of the indigenous people are based in the diversity of nature. They have learned to live in this region without destroying it. They do not feel they are masters of this beauty but they live in harmony with all living beings.

This is what the synod should make us understand because we feel we are the masters and we can change things without taking into account the consequences.

He finished with three important bits of wisdom:

We must recover respect for this world.

We must listen, contemplate, and live in harmony with all.

We must learn from them this way of life.

Bishop Zenildo Luiz Pereira da Silva, C.SS.R., of Brazil is the rector of a seminary that welcomes men from the city and from indigenous communities. He said that in the formation of priests, we need to consider synodality. "We entrust the formation of priests to a small group of formators, but this is not enough. We need formation that is rooted in dialogue with the people. We need new ways of thinking to ensure that formation is not conceived outside of reality. And we need priests who are capable of operating and serving in the Amazon and dialoguing with the culture.

Women's Equality in the Church

Bishop Ricardo Ernesto Centellas Guzmán, President of the Bishops Conference in Bolivia spoke about the need for women's equality in the Church.

He said that we all need to change our mindset to recognize that women are equal including in the participation of women within the church.

There is no doubt that women are the majority, but the participation at the decision making level is almost invisible," he argued. "This must change."

He said that women should be involved in all the decision making processes at the parish and diocesan level first.

India's Amazon

Cardinal Oswald Gracias from Mumbai, India shared that he was surprised when Pope Francis asked him to join the synod until he realized that the problems of the Amazon are also present in India.

For him, the problems present in the Amazon are universal and could be summed up in three points.

  1. The violence against nature continues.
  2. The rights of indigenous people are being trampled. And their plight is similar to the Dalits.
  3. The violence and destruction in the Amazon is systematic. The indigenous people want to preserve their culture. If we allowed it to be uprooted, their world, our world will be destroyed.

He ended by saluting the church in the Amazon. He also praised the bishops of the region. "They anguish from their hearts," he said.

A Synod Focusing on Women?

Sr. Birgit Weiler, a top woman theologian at the Amazon synod said in a Tablet interview that it is time for the Church to have a synod that focuses on women's roles, governance, ministry, and leadership.

She believes women are being overlooked even though they are leading and ministering in the Church.

Here is her list of issues that should be addressed:

  • Ministries should be established that officially recognize the work and role of women within the Amazon region. She argues that this recognition would allow women in the Amazon to strengthen their commitment to the Church and to faith and expand the pastoral presence needed in the region.
  • Women find it easier to connect to other women
  • Despite their pastoral work, women are not recognized
  • She wants more than lip service, she wants ministries that are set up to officially recognize women's ministries.
  • The Church needs to avoid a colonialist mindset and exhibit openness to what something new
  • Women should vote at the synod

You may already agree with her on the challenges we face as women in the Church. But I would love to hear what you think about a synod. What are the benefits? What are the risks?

I created a facebook page so you can share your thoughts! It would be fun to discuss such an idea and think about it together.

CLICK HERE and share!