Dear Pope Francis and members of the magisterium,
What are you afraid of? Why can’t you hear the breath of the Holy Spirit blowing through the church like a hurricane for change? Why can’t you see the aggiornamento, the “signs of the times,” in big bold letters written by God like a giant billboard asking you to bring up to date the church in our place and time? Or is it that you can hear, you can see, but you close your ears and eyes because what God is asking of you, of us, of God’s church is threatening to you and your Pharisaic power?
Dearest Pope Francis, in late June, on a flight back from Armenia, you told a team of reporters, “When you want something not to be resolved, make a commission.” And, yet, on August 2, just weeks after this press conference, you appointed six men and six women to the “Study Commission on the Women’s Diaconate.” Was this your plan all along? To pacify us, to give us false hope by making a commission? I stood there in St. Peter’s Square when you came out for your first Angelus and I, and so many others, were filled with such hope that God had appointed you in this time and place to lead the “Great Restoration,” the turning back of the Church to its roots in order to move ahead to restore the church that Jesus intended, the church that Jesus asked Mary of Magdala to proclaim, the church that Jesus asked the Samaritan woman to evangelize, the church into which Lydia baptized in Philippi, the church in which Phoebe was a diakonos in the church at Cenchrea. Was this just a political move, like when you canonized John Paul II and Pope John XXIII on the same date, a tactic to sooth the factions in the church that are pulling it this way and that?
Oh how I long for a church that welcomes everyone equally, the rich and poor, the old and young, the sick and the healthy, women and men, the married and the unmarried; that acknowledges the gifts of all and invites everyone to share his/her gifts for the bringing about of the reign of God in the here and now. I felt the Spirit alive in the early house churches in Rome, and amongst the ruins in Corinth, Thessaloniki and Philippi. Will our church in the here and now be among those ruins?
I pray for the energy to get back in the fight. The scales were removed from my eyes during my ten years of theological study that brought about my spiritual awakening, a rebirth not of water and the Spirit but of knowledge and the Spirit. Perhaps ignorance really is bliss, but now that I am no longer ignorant, what shall I do with the power that comes from knowing? I got tired…tired of writing letters, tired of preaching to deaf ears, tired of being called a heretic. It’s become so easy to skip Mass, leave those books on the shelf, avoid the emails from WOC and FutureChurch, close the Scriptures. But the Spirit of God is blowing a second wind into my life and I pray that I won’t become like you, dear Pope Francis and magisterium, blowing off the breath of God and asphyxiating in fear and self doubt.
And so I move on, “confront[ing] a kind of power that tells me, ‘You can’t do it. You are no one,’” discerning what actions I can take to claim my power to “announce, work for, enact and long for everything required by God’s love.” I claim the power of Mary of Magdala, Phoebe and Lydia and “that power that flowed from Jesus as the woman touched his garment.”
Your power flows from God, dear Pope Francis and the magisterium, and so does mine. The Holy Spirit won’t be ignored, the reign of God will happen, and I will be among those who work the fields to bring it about.
I am only one, but I am not alone.