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25 January 2017 Changing the Conversation (170509) Celebrating More Than 50 Years (170509) Conscience-Based Moral Judgments (170509) Dignitaries Humanae (170509) False Views on Jesus' Views on Divorce (170509) Mission and Human Rights (170509) Jesus and the Ordination of Women (170516) 29 May 2017 How much of Church Doctrine do we really believe? (170602) Trump Pulls Out of Paris Agreement (170602) 05 June 2017 Thoughts on Religious Vocations: An Open Letter to Pope Francis (170605) I can't get the institutional church out of my system (170618) 25 June 2017 Just War? Enough Already (170703) What would Teilhard say? Evolve or be annihilated (170710) Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (170719) Religion's Wax Nose (170726) American Civil Religion (170731) A Heresy of the Times (170807) Cardinal Calls for Global Church (170818) The Price of Being a Prophet (170821) The Implosion of the Roman Catholic Church (170902) Reflection on Racism in America (170913) Who am I? Where am I going? (170918) One Priest's Hopes for the Mass Translation (170925) The Edge of the Inside (171002) Selective Christianity (171016) Theology at the Cutting Edge: Healing the Political and Social Divide in America (171016) Resisting Islamophobia Is The Catholic Thing To Do. (171023) It Started With a Letter to the Archbishop (171030) Why Do We Still Tolerate Mass Stipends? (171106) Their Cross to Bear: Catholic Women Told to Forgive (171113) Papal loyalists become dissidents (171120) Echoes of Theocracy (171127) Will Pope Francis Remove the 'Warning'? (171204) Gumbleton on Nuclear Deterrence (171211) The Scandal of the 2011 Missal (171218)
ARCC News 2018
Prophets of a Future Not Our Own (20180101) 2018: Time to Become Ultra-Human? (20180118) Time for a Bonfire of Their Vanities? (20180122) Until All Are Welcome My House, My Rules: 3 Women "Rejected" (20180208) Policing the Communion Line (20180205) A Time to Judge (20180212) Mary McAleese Being Banned is Embarrassing (20180219) Correct, Don't Complicate Excommunication (20180226) Catholic Tradition, Labour, and Organizing Workers (20180305) Misogyny in the Vatican (20180312) The Unofficial Saint of the Internet (20180318) Francis Invites Change, But We Are the Change (20180325) Rediscovering the Role of Mary Magdalene as Apostle of the Apostles (20180401) Synodality and its Perils (20180409) Get rid of the clergy - But keep Holy Orders (20180415) Renewing the Program of Priestly Formation (20180429) Male and Female, in the image and likeness of God (20180506) Wedding Bans: Why Do Parishes Turn Young Couples Away? (20180513) Christian Humanism, the Path to the Divine (20180520) Mary - Prophet and Priest (20180527) A Wake-Up Call to Liberal Theologians (20160603) Canonization is right for Oscar Romero (20180610) Could the Church take a risk? (20180618) AJC expresses "Profound Concern" over beatification (20180624) The Bible's #MeToo Problem (20180701) 'Humanae Vitae' and the census fidelium (20180715) The Catholic Church wasn't always so against contraception (20180722) 50 years later, scientist's findings on birth control... (20180729) #MeToo, Your Excellency The Catholic Church needs a way to deal with bad bishops (20180812) The Catholic Church is tempted by power and obsessed with sex (20180819) Real change against abuse... (20180826) Pope Francis is facing a crisis of justice (20180829) Catholics Are Facing a Very Real Emergency (20180902) Truth and its violent consequences (20180909) The Third Millennial Catholic Reformation (20180917) Reality in an Historical-Critical Perspective (20180923) Both Prudential & Indisputable (20180930) Catholic Crossroads and Catholic Conflict (20181007) Schism or Evolution? (20181015) Theology: Stones or Bread? (20181028) White Christian America (20181102) Stone Throwing. Or Not. (20181104) Young People, Hope for the Church(es) (20181112) Who Represents the Laity? (20181118) Open Letter to the US Catholic Bishops: It's Over (20181125) From Collegiality to Synodality (20181203) The Birth of the Messiah (20181217) A Non-traditional Blessing for 2019 (20181231)
ARCC News 2019 Changing Power Relationships


Male and Female, in the image and likeness of God (20180506)

Male and Female, in the image and likeness of God?


Contemporary Catholic Belief and Action


Male and Female, 
in the image and likeness of God?
John J. Shea, O.S.A.
Letter to Pope Francis
Pentecost, 2018
Dear Pope Francis,
I hope you are well. And I hope your staff lets you read this letter. I am praying for you. Your overall concern for injustice, for the poor, for the environment, and for some reform in the church is inspiring.
Enclosed again are two letters about the ordination of women: the first is sent to each member of the Council of Cardinals with whom you are soon meeting; the second is a letter for background that I mailed to all the ordinaries of the United States at the beginning of Lent in 2014.
When you first talked about the need for honest dialogue on the issues that we face as a church, it was heartening. You kept insisting: "dialogue, dialogue, dialogue." In fact, you said: "dialogue fearlessly."
Yet, there is not nor has there been any dialogue-fearless, gender inclusive, or otherwise-on the ordination of women, arguably the most important issue in the church. As Supreme Pontiff can you call now for synodal dialogue and end the appalling silence of our church?
Can the church ever be whole if women are "not fully in the likeness of Jesus"? Not to affirm the body-and-soul wholeness of women-leaving their integrity ignored, disparaged, and denied-is an injustice that stifles the Spirit and gives a lie to the Good News.
Pope Francis, as Pentecost approaches can we hope that ministry will finally be separated from patriarchal conceit? Can we hope that an intelligent view of gender will finally affect a comatose hierarchy?
Is time-honored and Vatican-championed misogyny-so blatantly disrespectful and so obviously immature-to corrupt with abandon all four traditional hallmarks of our church?
How long? How long? How long? How long? 
John J. Shea, O.S.A
Letter to the Council of Cardinals
Pentecost, 2018

Dear Cardinal Marx,
I am writing to you and to each of the members of the Council of Cardinals yet again to ask you to directly address in your next meeting the church's continuing decision to see women as lacking the body-and soul integrity to be ordained to the priesthood. This decision so needing reform-ecclesia semper reformanda-radically disfigures the church's identity and seriously compromises its wonderful mission in the world.
Of all the things that Pope Francis has said and done, the way he opened the Synod on the Family in 2014 was perhaps the most extraordinary. He asked the bishops to speak "freely," "boldly," and "without fear." This exhortation is quite shocking: he had to ask his fellow bishops - grown men and the church's teachers - to speak honestly to each other. Given a hierarchy so incredibly challenged by dialogue, however, his exhortation
was not only necessary but also, at least at that time, a small sign of hope.
If women and men together in priesthood is vital for the future of our church - if leadership hopping around on one foot is at once lame and dismissive - I ask you to speak freely, boldly, and without fear.
If you know there is nothing in Scripture or tradition that prohibits the ordination of women to the priesthood, I ask you to speak freely, boldly, and without fear. If you know from your own experience that any given woman is as religiously mature and able to provide pastoral care as any given man, I ask you to
speak freely, boldly, and without fear.
If seeing women and men through a complementarity lens or in light of precious patriarchal symbolism is not ad rem to women's worthiness of ordination, I ask you to speak freely, boldly, and without fear.
If you find the 1994 letter, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis: 1) was the fruit of doctrinal fiat and not dialogue; 2) was written directly in the face of-and arguably to cut off-serious scriptural-theological dialogue actually taking place; and 3) then mandated that no dialogue at all-let alone anything fearless or gender-inclusive-is allowed going forward, I ask you to speak freely, boldly, and without fear.
If you see that the letter, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, is basically an
historical interpretation of ordination rather than one that is seriously theological, I ask you to speak freely, boldly, and without fear.
If the theological explanation actually put forth by the Vatican in the 1970s and 1980s - that women cannot be ordained because they are "not fully in the likeness of Jesus" - would be silly if it were it not so heretical, I ask you to speak freely, boldly, and without fear.
If it beggars believe that women fully created in the image and likeness of God does not mean they are fully created in the image and likeness of God's Son - if Jesus is thought to image a Father who is biologically male - I ask you to speak freely, boldly, and without fear.
If our church is actually undermining the Three-in-Oneness of our God - if a huge patriarchal beam is wittingly stuck in the church's eye, worshipping the Father as male, the Son as male, and the Holy Spirit as male - I ask you to speak freely, boldly, and without fear.
If it is alarming that the adult faithful are leaving the church in droves because of women not worthy of priesthood - if you see that "a patriarchal Jesus" severs the roots of inclusion, respect, and trust in the church - I ask you to speak freely, boldly, and without fear.
If it troubles you that banning women from ordination is taken-in the church and throughout the world-as affirming women's inferiority and justifying domestic violence, infanticide, trafficking, and many other atrocities, I ask you to speak freely, boldly, and without fear. 
If bishops, theologians, and the faithful need to work in a synodal way under the aegis of a genderless Spirit to affirm the body-and-soul integrity of women and let our blind, demeaning, overbearing church find healing, I ask you to speak freely, boldly, and without fear.
Cardinal Marx, how does the dehumanization of women in the church affect you? Are women whole? Are they fully in the likeness of Jesus? Is this the time for a serious voice of reform to be heard? Like the reformation of inclusion in the infant church, can you and the other bishops see, hear, and name what Pope Francis cannot see, hear, and name? Will you speak freely? Will you dialogue boldly and without fear?

John J. Shea, O.S.A.

Copy: Pope Francis
John J. Shea, O.S.A., Ph.D., M.S.W.  taught in the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education at Fordham University and was Professor of the Practice of Pastoral Care and Counseling; Dual Degree Director (MA/MA and MA/MSW) School of Theology and Ministry at Boston College.
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