On 8 December, 1854, Pope Pius IX announced that the Blessed Virgin Mary “in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin.”
I don’t know exactly what Pope Pius meant by this, but for me it means that Mary was whole and integral unto herself from the moment she was a twinkle in her parents’ eyes and that through this she reminds the Church that all women are capable of serving in all ministries in the church through the merits of Jesus and the example of his mother Mary.
When Pope John Paul II visited the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, in 1979, he was welcomed by LCWR president Sr. Theresa Kane (see video) in which she called the church to recognize women as “fully participating members.”
The most relevant part of her speech was:
“As I share this privileged moment with you, Your Holiness, I urge you to be mindful of the intense suffering and pain which is part of the life of many women in these United States. I call upon you to listen with compassion and to hear the call of women who comprise half of humankind.
As women we have heard the powerful messages of our Church addressing the dignity and reverence for all persons. As women we have pondered upon these words. Our contemplation leads us to state that the Church in its struggle to be faithful to its call for reverence and dignity for all persons must respond by providing the possibility of women as persons being included in all ministries of our Church.
I urge you, Your Holiness, to be open to and respond to the voices coming from the women of this country who are desirous of serving in and through the Church as fully participating members.”
It is worth noting that Sr. Kane’s speech received thunderous applause. And “when she finished speaking,” newspapers report, “the gray-haired nun moved to the altar of the magnificent National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and knelt before the pope. He gently touched her head.” Such is the agonizing and beautiful paradox and mystery of Catholicism.
“Ask not, doubt not. You have, My Heart, already chosen the joy of Advent. As a force against the great uncertainty, bravely tell yourself, ‘It is the Advent of the great God’” —Karl Rahner
“What is your opinion? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will the shepherd not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray?“—Matthew 18: 12
In the United States yesterday, December 7, is remembered as “Pearl Harbor Day.” Early on a Sunday morning in 1941 the Japanese military attacked a U.S. naval base on Oahu, Hawaii, killing 2,403 Americans. There were about 100 Japanese killed. The Japanese squadron leader was Mitsuo Fuchida.
“We hate, and are hated in return, and then we hate more, and we have all seen where that can lead,” said Fuchida years later. But, he said, “We love, and we are likely to be loved in return, which begins the cycle of love.”
In the late 1940s, Fuchida heard some Japanese POWs returning from U.S. detainee camps, talking about an American teenager who visited them. She brought them soap, toothpaste, and asked what else she could do for them. The prisoners didn’t trust her. Finally they asked why she had been so kind to them, her enemies. She told them that her parents had been Christian missionaries in Japan and the Philippines.
They had been murdered, beheaded, by Japanese soldiers who thought they were spies. The girl’s life began to be consumed by hate for the Japanese, until she was able to reconnect with what her parents had taught: Love of enemies and forgiveness. She gave “aid and comfort” to the enemy to honor her parents and because she was a Christian.
Mitsuo Fuchida was deeply moved by this story. Eventually, Fuchida became a Christian out of a need to heal the hate in his own life. “I have participated in the cycle of hate for much of my life,” said Fuchida. “For the rest of my life I want to begin the cycle of love as often and in as many places as possible.”
Fuchida traveled extensively in the United States. Every time a Pearl Harbor survivor approached him Fuchida bowed slightly and said “Gomenasai” [I’m sorry], then reached out and took their hand.
To whom do you need to apologize before the Christ Child arrives?
Breathe in. Breathe out. Ad…..vent.
With gratitude to Pax Christi USA where some of these reflections first appeared in print..
Editor’s note: Seven Catholics entered the Trident nuclear submarine base in Kings Bay Georgia on April 4, 2017, to demonstrate their religious beliefs that nuclear weapons should be dismantled and abolished. The Kings Bay Plowshares co-defendants are in court this week bringing a Religious Freedom Restoration Act case against the military base.
The co-defendants called as an expert witness, Jeannine Hill Fletcher, a Fordham University theology professor, who reviewed Catholic social teachings from writings of Popes and the 2nd Vatican Council. After referring to Pacem in Terris and Gaudium et Spes which condemn the use of nuclear weapons, she pointed to Pope Francis’ statement in 2017 that “The threat of their use, as well as their very possession, is to be firmly condemned.” Dr. Hill Fletcher’s press statement is below..–Rose Marie Berger
Press Statement Prepared by Jeannine Hill Fletcher
On April 4, 2017, The Kings Bay Plowshares undertook a sacramental action to sound the prophetic call that is at the heart of the Christian Gospel: Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength; and your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12:30-31; Matthew 22:36-40; Luke 10:27). They placed themselves in Christ’s greatest directive of love: “no one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13)
After years of prayer and discernment, listening deeply to the call of conscience and the prophetic call of the Gospel, these courageous Catholics set forth to make sacred what had been profaned. As Catholics, we take seriously the message of the Bible that the earth and all its creatures are God’s (Psalm 24:1). But the chain-link fence of the Kings Bay Trident Naval Base stands as a visible sign that some among humanity claim that they can determine the future and fate of the earth and all its creatures. In prophetic and sacramental witness, the Kings Bay Plowshares cut through the false security of the chain-link fence to make present for all who have eyes to see, the false security of nuclear weapons. For it is God alone who has the power to give life and to take it away; and it is at the heart of the Catholic faith that God alone is our security. The Kings Bay Plowshares were compelled by their faith to undertake a sacramental action that would consecrate what had been desecrated, by the sprinkling of blood and the prophetic reminder of the heart of the Gospel, spray-painting the prophetic message: Love Thy Neighbor.
For this prophetic action, the Kings Bay Plowshares are being prosecuted for breaking the law. But, Doctor of the Church, Saint Thomas Aquinas made a crucial distinction between a just and an unjust law, on the basis of its origin and its end. A just law has as its end human good and “the law does not exceed the power of the lawgiver” (Summa Theologica, Part II, Question 96, Article 4). An unjust law, does not have as its end human good, and has been created by someone in such a way “that goes beyond the power committed to him.” A just law, aligned with the natural law of God, makes a demand on our human conscience. An unjust law, requires of our conscience that it not be followed. In Aquinas’s words, “Laws may be unjust through being opposed to the Divine good: such are the laws of tyrants inducing to idolatry, or to anything else contrary to the Divine law: and laws of this kind must nowise be observed, because, as stated in Acts 5:29, ‘we ought to obey God rather than man.’” Catholic Social Teaching maintains this distinction between just and unjust laws, as well as the role of conscience in determining the righteousness of law. In the words of Pope John XXIII in Pacem et Terris (1963): “laws and decrees passed in contravention of the moral order, and hence of the divine will, can have no binding force in conscience, since “it is right to obey God rather than men’.”
In accordance with the teaching of Jesus found in the New Testament, the Catholic Christian tradition places one law above all others: you shall love God and love your neighbor as yourself. The maintenance of nuclear warheads is in direct violation of this law.
Catholic Social Teaching has named nuclear weapons such as those housed at Kings Bay Naval Base as “offenses against humanity and the common good” (Holy See, “Nuclear Disarmament: Time for Abolition” (2014). The documents of Vatican II named the use of any weapons “aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities of extensive areas along with their population” as “a crime against God and [humanity]” that “merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation.” (Gaudium et Spes, #80) In the words of Pope Francis “The threat of their use as well as their very possession is to be firmly condemned.” The principles of Catholic Social Teaching demand Catholics denounce unjust laws which compromise the dignity of each human person, destroy the common good, fail in our stewardship of the earth, global solidarity and the promotion of peace. Catholic Social Teaching has denounced nuclear weapons as contrary to the principles of the faith.
In his message on nuclear disarmament, Pope Francis lifted up the words of Pope John XXIII that the process of disarmament must be thoroughgoing and complete, and it must reach into our very souls. Standing in solidarity with humanity, the Kings Bay Plowshares attempted to reach the very souls of fellow Catholics and Christians that we must “wake up” to the threat to humanity and the affront to God that is our nuclear weapons arsenal through the sacramental action of sprinkling blood and inscribing the words “Love One Another.”
The defendants were motivated by deeply held religious beliefs and have acted in accordance with Catholic Social Teaching and the prophetic call of the Christian tradition.–Jeannine Hill Fletcher
An Anglican priest and her parishioner are among more than 200 anti-pipeline activists arrested in Burnaby this year, but on Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018, they became the first found guilty of civil contempt of court in the ongoing Trans Mountain pipeline saga.
On May 25, Laurel Dykstra and Lini Hutchings chained themselves to a tree on the property of Trans Mountain’s Burnaby Mountain tank farm with bicycle U-locks around their necks. Dykstra said they did so as an act of prayer and to protest the pipeline company’s clearing of trees on the southwest corner of its property. Read more.
Five critically acclaimed documentary films on nonviolent civil resistance are now available for free. Originally available only on DVD or videocassette, and shown in hundreds of screenings in across 25 countries, the films can now be viewed freely, worldwide. And are available in English as well as translated into more than 20 languages.
The films are: A Force More Powerful: The Emmy-nominated documentary exploring civil resistance campaigns in India, the United States, South Africa, Poland, Denmark, and Chile.
Bringing Down a Dictator: The award-winning documentary chronicling the student-led Otpor! Movement that led to the ouster of Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic.
The acclaimed documentary recounting 17 days of nonviolent civil resistance by the people of Ukraine against their chronically corrupt government.
Confronting the Truth:
A documentary examining the dynamics and mechanics of Truth and Reconciliation Commissions in the aftermath of conflicts in South Africa, Peru, East Timor, and Morocco.
Egypt: Revolution Interrupted?: A documentary recounting the 2011 Egyptian revolution, and its aftermath in the years that followed.
Gail Bradbrook, UK scientist and co-founder of Rising Up/Extinction Rebellion, gives a clear-eyed update on where we are in the process of climate collapse and what is required of people of good faith now.
This 57-minute video covers two main things: The ecological crisis – the latest science on what risks there are and our current trajectory which includes the possibility of abrupt (ie near-term dramatic climate change) and human extinction. And second, understanding our emotional response and about getting to an appropriate responses. Her goal is to tell the truth and ask us all to act accordingly and consistently with the information, including our understanding of what actually enables change to happen in the world.
Bradbrook concludes with organizing strategy for strategic nonviolent social disruption to apply pressure on governments and institutions for substantive change.
I wonder if this tactic meets the scale of the disaster? Gandhi strategist Pietro Ameglio in Mexico says we must build a “permanent firmness” or “grounded defense” in nonviolent obstructive or constructive actions that “are implemented in proportion with the level of violence and impunity we were up against.” This is what leads to the next phase in the history of social movements in nonviolent civil resistance: non-cooperation and civil disobedience. When there is such a high level of violence, impunity, and state complicity, if other scales of greater moral and material radicalization are not activated, the pressure of mass mobilizations and public dialogue with authorities are not sufficient, because they allow the government margins for dissembling.”
Bradbrook mentions Jem Bendell’s work on “Deep Adaptation.” Bendell writes: I hope the deep adaptation agenda of resilience, relinquishment and restoration can be a useful framework for community dialogue in the face of climate change. Resilience asks us “how do we keep what we really want to keep?” Relinquishment asks us “what do we need to let go of in order to not make matters worse?” Restoration asks us “what can we bring back to help us with the coming difficulties and tragedies?”
The key question I’m wrestling with now: What does Deep Adaptation/metanoia look like in our Discipleship communities?
“That’s the thing that no one tells you about evil. They make it seem like there are two clearly marked paths with flashing signs pointing out each way: sin and redemption. I mean, they tell you Adam and Eve knew that they could eat from every single tree in that garden, except one. But the truth is, evil comes when the righteous path is so hidden it just looks like there’s only one way out. The truth is Adam and Eve probably grabbed that apple because they were fucking starving, and it was the first tree they saw. Not that that’s any excuse. Or that I ever deserve your forgiveness. I just I don’t want you to make the same mistake. I don’t want you to do something you regret because you think there’s only one way. There is another path for you. It’s a better path. I can help you find it. You have no idea what I would have done if someone had come along and done that for me.”–Wendy Byrde (Laura Linney) to Pastor Mason Young (Michael Mosley) in Ozark(Season 2, Episode 7, One Way Out)
“Embracing Jesus’ call is not a matter of cognitive assent, nor of churchly habits, nor of liturgical or theological sophistication, nor doctrinal correctness, nor of religious piety, nor any of the other poor substitutes that we Christians have conjured through the ages. Rather, discipleship is at its core a matter of whether or not we really want to see. To see our weary world as it truly is, without denial and delusion: the inconvenient truths about economic disparity and racial oppression and ecological destruction and war without end. And to see our beautiful world as it truly could be, free of despair or distraction: the divine dream of enough for all and beloved community and restored creation and the peaceable kingdom. Discipleship invites us to apprehend life in its deepest trauma and its greatest ecstasy, in order that we might live into God’s vision of the pain and the promise.”–Ched Myers (from homily given at Farm Church, Ventura River watershed, California, 21 Oct 2018)
Pietro Ameglio, who works with SERPAJ-Mexico (Servicio Paz y Justicia/Peace and Justice Service), speaks in the video above about the caravan of migrants that has crossed from Honduras to Guatemala to Mexico. I work with Pietro through the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative.
Pietro reminds us that the members of the caravan are people fleeing violence and poverty. They “refuse to be killed in the name of progress,” he says. This caravan should be considered akin to the Salt March in India led by Gandhi in 1930 and the March on Washington led by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1963.
Pietro calls on the Catholic bishops from Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico and the United States to join the migrants on their journey. #ThisIsNonviolence
Catholic laity are promoting restorative justice processes to address sexual violence by clergy. The Archdiocese of St. Paul (Minn.), according to the Star-Tribune, is experimenting with restorative justice and healing forums in a handful of churches, bringing in convener Janine Geske of Marquette University’s Restorative Justice Initiative, “to deepen parishioners’ understanding of clergy abuse and to be a bridge to survivors.”
“The Healing Circles” video series has been developed by Janine Geske, distinguished professor of law and former justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court who started RJI at Marquette in order to help support victims and communities in the process of healing from the effects of crime. “The Healing Circle” video (http://healingcirclegroup.com) brings us face to face with the victims of sexual abuse by clergy and their pain. As part of a restorative justice process, the video helps to develop an understanding of the ripple effect of the violence as it explores the impact on the victims, their families, other believers, and those working in institutional church settings. Ultimately, the video helps examine the ways the violence has created a crisis of faith and helps grapple with the complexity of the healing process.
Archbishop Timothy Dolan introduces the videos saying, “It’s very important for us all to come face to face with the victims of these horrific acts. … I know that this scandal has shaken all of us and tested us. An important trust has been violated and the pain has been overwhelming for victims, their families, and loved ones.”
Diane Knight, chair of the national review board of the USCCB, has given her endorsement to Healing Circles video and process. “The individual stories in this DVD are compelling, and they are a powerful springboard for meaningful discussion that can extend the healing process in all of us. This is a must see for anyone who care deeply about the impact of the clergy abuse scandal,” said Knight.
The Catholic Nonviolence Initiative reports that “Restorative justice is a theory of justice that emphasizes repairing the harm caused by behavior. It is best accomplished through cooperative processes that include all stakeholders. This can lead to transformation of people, relationships and communities.”
“The Healing Circle” is a professionally produced DVD that is edited into three segments and runs one hour. Ultimately, it helps viewers examine the ways the sexual abuse scandal has created a crisis of faith and helps them begin to address the complexity of the healing process. It is available in two formats, one with a taped introduction by Archbishop Timothy Dolan and one without. The DVD may be ordered at www.healingcirclegroup.com.
The Restorative Justice Initiative at Marquette University Law School is one of the nation’s leading resources for the restorative justice process. Led by Distinguished Professor Geske, it is at the forefront of promoting scholarship and research on restorative justice.
Each human has innate dignity, the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative asserts, even those whose lives have been deeply marred by injustice, and those responsible for causing it. The common good requires that all share in the benefits of society, participate in building up society, and fulfill reciprocal obligations. Solidarity speaks to the attitudes of compassion and respect necessary to sustain a good society. Integral development is a term used by Paul VI and later popes to indicate that individuals reach their full potential in a holistic atmosphere of peace, human dignity, and respect for economic and civil rights.
Restorative justice initiatives are part of the larger array of Catholic nonviolent practices used to build accountable justice and integral peace. Catholic laity have powerful tools in our tradition for responding to violence, even within the church.
The information above is compiled from these web sites: