Features this week include an article on the “skin gap” – obvious in men’s and women’s Olympic uniforms — and whether modest clothing for women of faith is subjugation or liberation. (And by the way, Illinois says it is OK for an athlete to wear a hijab.) Another article finds there is a decline in church attendance — even among non-believers; the Sunday Assembly is a congregation of nonbelievers that has faith “in the power of community,” but finds organizing a godless future is not easy. Also this week: “Jesus never sent his disciples to a seminary.”
Season of Creation
But first, it is the Season of Creation. Have you heard anything about it?
AUSCP member Mike Bausch said a colleague in ministry shared her frustration that seldom, if ever, does she hear “anything from the pulpit addressing the Care of God’s Creation, one of the seven primary social teachings of the Church.”
If you haven’t been talking about the moral and spiritual aspects of the climate crisis, Bausch says in response, it is time “to turn the pulpit green.” He offers some moral, spiritual and practical counsel this week for Wisdom Wednesday.
Phyllis Zagano is an internationally acclaimed Catholic scholar and lecturer on contemporary spirituality and women’s issues in the church. She too expresses her frustration about not hearing American bishops talking about the Synod on Synodality.
Zagano says, “As the U.S. bishops fulminate over which Catholic politician can receive Communion, they’ve done little to plan for the worldwide discussion on the needs of the church. They were asked to get organized last May. They haven’t. “
The observations of Bausch and Zagano both invite us to be hearers and doers of the Word. It is not enough to be critical of what has not been said or done. Our response as ministers and preachers, writers and speakers, is to start talking, in word and in deed.
A National Catholic Reporter editorial challenges U.S. bishops to speak out on fossil fuel investment. it is noteworthy that there is a growing movement by Catholic groups and others to publicly divest their portfolios of fossil fuels.
Climate One has a good podcast on the 50th anniversary of Frances Moore Lappe’s Diet for a Small Planet which was groundbreaking. She and her daughter, Anna, (Diet for a Hot Planet) are interviewed on this podcast.
EarthJustice offers action suggestions to care for creation in its recent newsletter.
The Maryknoll Sisters have heard the call to care for creation, and they have made their belief concrete. Almost a decade ago, in 2012, the congregation entered into a land preservation agreement with the Westchester Land Trust, setting aside 42 acres as protected land — “forever wild” — in perpetuity through a conservation easement.
Advice from an ‘older brother’
Another observer offers some wisdom this week. Lou Cameli is widely known for his ministry to priests in the Archdiocese of Chicago and elsewhere. He writes, “I experience a church and priesthood facing enormous challenges. . . . I think it is safe to say that today’s priests stand before many unprecedented challenges. These challenges stem from our culture and internal issues of church life.” Cameli offers his advice to priests “from an older brother.”
Regarding migrants and refugees
Pope Francis has been talking about refugees and immigrants – and our response to them. He says everyone is called “to build a more inclusive world, which excludes no one.” As the Church celebrates the 107th edition of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis is inviting all Catholics to open our hearts to those who have left their homes.
Universal access to affordable and reliable energy is pivotal to eliminate poverty and hunger, says Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Vatican Secretary for Relations with States. Vatican News reports on Gallagher’s message to an international energy summit.
As the U.S. bishops fulminate over which Catholic politician can receive Communion, they’ve done little to plan for the worldwide discussion on the needs of the church. They were asked to get organized last May. They haven’t. Pope Francis wants every Catholic to have a say. Why haven’t US Catholics heard about it? Phyllis Zagano says the nation’s bishops don’t seem to care.
America Magazine says the debate about whether the Catholic Church should ordain women to the diaconate often focuses on theological and historical arguments. Rarely, though, do we hear from women who themselves feel called to this ministry. The publication invites us to “meet a Catholic woman who feels called to be a deacon.” (A subscription may be required.)
Women comprise the majority of US Catholics and the majority of lay ministers in the US Catholic Church. While the ordained diaconate remains the exclusive realm of men, women engage in expansive service that overlaps core diaconal functions in word, liturgy, and charity. Many women feel specifically called to be deacons or express an openness to discerning such a call should the vocational path become available to them.
The ‘skin gap’
The “skin gap” between men and women was on full display at the Olympics. As female athletes push back, they may find inspiration among some religious women, who have long seen modest dress not as subjugation but as liberation. Sadly, the notion of women covering up has become associated with subjugation when, in fact, many religious women, from Orthodox Jews to Muslims to conservative Christians, find it to be a form of liberation.
In Illinois, the Inclusive Athletic Attire Act allows all student athletes to modify their uniforms in keeping with their religion, culture or personal preferences for modesty. That means students no longer need to seek special permission to wear a hijab, undershirt or leggings with their uniforms — as long as it doesn’t cover their faces or interfere with their movement.
Giving voice to our needs
In addition to the call this week, to preach about the climate crisis and to call for synodal participation, we have an article asking for a revival of a pre-Vatican II practice – Rogation Days. America Magazine publishes the opinion that it is time to speak out our prayers of petition.
A congregation of non-believers
The Sunday Assembly hopes to organize a godless future. It’s not easy. At its peak, there were about 70 congregations in the Sunday Assembly movement. About half have shut down or gone dormant. Religion News Service provides a feature story on the Nashville Sunday Assembly, a congregation of nonbelievers that has faith in the power of community. The group gathers monthly to sing together, give testimonies and even hear a secular version of a sermon.
The first ever
The only full-time Hindu chaplain at any place of higher learning was the first Hindu in the United States ever to fill the role. Religion News Service reports how Hindu chaplains wen from an anomaly to a necessity.
Jesus never sent his disciples to a seminary
The AUSCP has offered (in vain) the many years of its members’ experience of ministry and concern about priestly formation. The issue arises elsewhere in the Church. Is it time to re-think seminaries? We need seminaries to be places that train new generations of clergy to be servant leaders who can pastor — not rule over — the faithful.
Boy Scouts and Faith Groups: It’s complicated
Amid the Boy Scouts of America’s complex bankruptcy case, there is worsening friction between the BSA and the major religious groups that help it run thousands of scout units. At issue: the churches’ fears that an eventual settlement — while protecting the BSA from future sex-abuse lawsuits — could leave many churches unprotected.
Abuse is not only a clerical problem or a Boy Scouts problem. Pope Francis said the Vatican is conducting a study, given the growing number of abuse cases in Catholic lay and religious movements.
Who is welcome at the communion table? That’s not just a Catholic question. Peter Marty is pastor of a Lutheran Church in Davenport, Iowa, and also editor and publisher of the Christian Century. He says, “Maybe the grace experienced in the sacrament precedes belief. “
We hope you have enjoyed this roundup of recent news about faith, politics, and culture. We will return next week with another edition of Wisdom Wednesday.
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