by Shannon Preston, Diocese of Minnesota
Today was beautifully full and beautifully rich of things to learn and people acting against injustice.
I attended the last half of the viewing of Pink Smoke Over the Vatican. I had seen the film a few weeks ago in St. Cloud and got there in time to see the last part again as well as the panel. The panel included the filmmaker, two Roman Catholic woman priests, a Lutheran pastor who is ordained in a synod that does not ordain women, a Roman Catholic lay woman who supports women’s ordination, and a woman who has left the RC church to pursue her call.
The panel was, I am not sure I have a word to describe it. The panel started with several young women (high school) who brought up arguments of why women should not be priests: women are not in persona Christae, Aquinas wasn’t actually against women priests, and inviting the priests to leave the Church. The panel answered with such respect, groundedness, “no resentment,” and care. They answered that God is genderless and Christ had to be a man by historic necessity. The women explained that once God calls God does not stop and this call is something they cannot ignore. In response to leaving the Church they explain that the Church does not belong to the hierarchy it belongs to the body of Christ, the body of believers. They explain that the Church call for primacy of conscience. A young Anglican priest from New Zealand gave her support and a beautiful explanation that Jesus was anti-institution. I asked a question about how what hope I can take to my friends who are disenchanted with the church. The response I heard was that we need to be where God wants us to be, we need to listen to ourselves and must search for a place where we feel at peace. The RC Women Priests do not only ordain women but also men, gays, and transgender people. As a note: they welcome all people to their services.
It was amazing to see such support in the room countered with such contention. It is an injustice that God is engrained as a man, a major advocacy point of Ecumenical women is to challenge patriarchal paradigms and to change the patriarchal nature of the God children are introduced to is a challenge indeed. Yet the response to that by the women priests was it takes time and that must act in love and realize we all have our own way to a God that is mystery, love, and greater than all we know.
P.S. The morning sessions were great and dinner with some of the young women leaders in the Episcopal Church was inspirational. Also, New York has good pizza and chocolate milk, there is water behind the UN building, our group is wonderful, and the leaders are magnificent.