Is the Pope Catholic?

PDF-file by Joanna Manning

Is the Pope Catholic? PDF ebook download A feminist critique of the Catholic Church written from a personal perspective, this book is as much autobiography as it is religious argument.And the combination is a powerful attack on the patriarchalism of the Roman church.The author, a devout Catholic, a novitiate in the Society of the Holy Child Jesus as a youth, was deeply influenced by the liberating spirit of Vatican II - her faith and intellect and spirit were captivated by the religious fervor of that time, by the possibilities of change, of renewal, that were initiated by that Council.But as the spirit of that era was gradually betrayed, as the forces of reaction re-gained control, she became increasingly dissatisfied with the church hierarchy, with its teaching on birth control, on the role of women, on clerical celibacy, etc.Still, she remainedfaithful to the church, teaching in the Catholic school system of Canada.But it was the revelations of priestly child abuse, particularly those in Newfoundland, that lead her to take a more vocal, more public role.The hypocrisy of the clergy in regard to the sexual abuse scandal turned her into a passionate activist for reform, into a leading critic of the Canadian hierarchy.This book, written in 1999, is outspoken in its criticism of John Paul II and of his most influential theological advisor, Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.While respecting the political success of John Paul's pontificate, his indispensable role in freeing eastern europe from Communism, she regards his conservative theology and his insistence of absolute conformity to that conservatism by the church as a disaster, believing that it has weakened creative thought in the church, has weakened the possibility of engagement with modern thought, with other faith traditions, has weakened all reform movements, delegitimizing both liberation and feminist theology.Course, as a woman, she is most bitter about John Paul's attitude towards her sex - is outraged that he has definitively pronounced them to be unequal to men spiritually - has declared that are not fully the "image of God" - and so unable to represent God at the altar, unable to celebrate the Eucharist.

One of Manning's strengths is that she is particularly good at drawing out the real life consequences of this patriarchalism.Having taught parochial high school for decades, her descriptions of how this clerical prejudice against women effects young females, demeans them, stunts their spiritual growth is quite illuminating, quite convincing.She has raised my own personal consciousness of the real harm done by clerical patriarchalism.Has made me more sympathetic to feminist concerns.That said, perhaps the book's greatest value for non-catholics lies in Mannings exposition of how the Pope's theology on women is not just some internal church matter but effects women everywhere.She demonstrates how the Vatican's seat at the United Nations, its participation in the UN's many institutions and conferences, has had a worldwide influence on women, no matter their religion or lack of one.She details, for example, how in the series of UN World Conferences on Women, the Vatican aligned itself with repressive, traditional totalitarian regimes, even Islamist regimes, and worked aggressively to limit women's equality politically, worked to deprive women of all international guarantees of any equality, solely as a defensive move to ensure its own traditional patriarchal practices.

However, the greatest indictment of the Roman Church made by this book is the more implicit one - is the fact that rather than using the talents of this devout, intelligent Catholic woman, one who deeply loves the church and strives passionately to reform it - instead of using her gifts - the church has attempted to silence her, to marginalize her, treating her as it did all other women who challenge the patriarchal tradition.What a waste!The answer to the book's title is "No".John Paul (with Benedict) does not share the universalism of the first century - of the ancient baptismal liturgy quoted by Paul in his letter to the Galatians: "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."Without that all encompassing inclusion, one is not catholic - one is parochial.

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