Newspaper Archive of
Arkansas Catholic
Little Rock, Arkansas
February 24, 1991     Arkansas Catholic
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February 24, 1991
 

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ARKANSAs CATHOLIC FEBRLIARY 24, 1991 PAGE3 [PF &GB I uffman Lh V ziI fl l 01 :ir fall our bishops announced that )eir pastoral letter on the role of women the Church, ~hich has been Underway for the ~ast seven years, ~0uld have to be r-~. stponed indefi- ~in~tely. Bishop Joseph , ta. I ev~i~ mesch of Joliet, ndl~l~ who heads the leOi~mrnittee writing eve~ says this doesn't r' ean the pastoral he, going to be dropped, only that more work ent~ rleeded. Je~ After having x~witten successful pastoral ~of~llers on controversial topics like war and :~Onomics, it might seem the bishops had r i~amed the secret of reaching a consensus orl~rl tough problems - hut after two major ahPrafts the is~sues related to women still seem :1 ~r from solved. , - , ~e~lhey asked. ss~ ,. The answer appears to be that more and ; ~J~0re people - espedally women, but also ,~ ~any men including numerous bishops - 1 lal ave become painfully aware of sexism. ~laI Sexism is the belief that men are inher- a ~r~tly superior to women. It's in the same te~tla~ as racism, wlfich is the belief that one n~, ,race is inherently superior to "all others. It s society Only 200 300 years ago in the U.S. wo~nen weren t allowed to attend ti0~khool, and couldn't o~a~,property. Seventy gi~ears ago women weren t allowed to vote, -'r ]~d even more recently women were barred e l]" rn professions like medicine and law. Those days are past, and not even the ;el)~rst male chauvinist is calling for their but the be ef that women art som t o]"uW inferior to men because they re dif- ferent than men is still very much with us. Our sexism produces a lack of respect for women, evidenced in things as different as lower pay for the same work and in the way we treat rape victims. The Church is clear that sexism is a sin. The U.S. pastoral may be the first official document to formally declare sexism a sin, but inso doing it follows a long tradition. How could the Cathofic Church, with its long history of devotion to Mary, possibly ignore prejudice specifically directed against women? But it's one thing to condemn sexism and quite another to propose an alterna- tive. Perhaps the problem can be put most simply by asking, "If sexism is wrong, what is righL " When you ask that question you're likely to get conflicting answers from two groups. One says, in effect, 'T~ave things exactly as they are." The folks in this group wouldn't suggest going back to the days when women couldn't vote, but neither do they see the need for any furflmr changes. If there are problems, they say, it's because some women are asking for radical changes which would erode the traditional family structure and abolish the privileges women now have. The second group is on the opposite side. They say, "Abolish all distinctions between men and women, except for those based on biology." This group advocates abolish- ing any distinctions based on gender, in both society and the Church - including ordi- nation of women to the priesthood. In between are millions of us who aren't convinced either group has the whole an- swer. We agree that women are discriminated against, both in society and the Church, and that tiffs fact can't be swept under the rug. But on the other hand it seems to us that ignoring the profound differences between men and women - not all ofwhich are bid- ,logical - isn't very practical. And wtfile we agree that family structures have to be protected and strengthened, we're not at all convinced the status quo is that healthy lbr either families or the indi- viduals in them. Which leaves us where our bishops ap- parently are - looking for an alternative. 1991 Ivan Kauffman / .;i .ii "Where are we going, Father? What will we do when we get there?" Imac's questions must have tom his father's heart to pieces as they walked the road to Moriah. Did Abraham al- Rev. William Gould most turn back? Did he feel anything but empty, aching desolation? What did he tell his son? We will never know -'~ the answers. Gem 22: 1-2, 9, 10-13, 15-18 * Rom. 8:31-34 * Mk 9:. 2-10 Our first reading presents one of the most dramatic and perplexing events re- corded in the entire Bible. This story horrifies and repots us- as indeed it should. How could an infinitely loving God order a father to kill his only child? How could Abraham be willing to even consider such a terrible thing? The whole event is shrouded in mystery - religious m)~tery as well as the Agatha Christie kind. We will never understand. We can never understand. The whole thing was inexplicable even to Abraham! The God he knew would never demand such a thing. Everything that Gtxl had promksed for the future depended on Isaac's continued life. It would all die the moment Iris knilb touched his son's throat. But somehow, even in the midst of his anguish and horror, he was able to hold onto his faith and gather up Our lad( of In I st is the some vestiges of trust. That trust - that confidence in God's faithful love - is what made things work out in an sa~i~ol~ God a~4s us to unexpected arid surprising way. His mist turned wage,ty lay on Moriahts altar. into joy. That is the event's message Ibr you and me. Our gospel tries to describe the Transfiguration ex|x~- rience. The tkree disciples were overwhchned by it. They did not understand the meaning, nor could they understand what Jesus meant when I Ie talked about rising from the dead. But they did not need to! This powerful event nourished their faith in Jesus as messiah and Son of C,~. It made possible the fidelity and mast that would get them through the dark days almad. Our epistle sums up both of these readings and direcls their message to our lives. Just as Jesus Himself needed to trust the l:aflmr -after "all, the Redemption was accompfished only through suffering, betrayal and ibmominious failure! - so we are also asked to trust God, to give I tim a chance in all circumstances. "If Cod is for us, who can be against us?" Paul's rhetorical question forms a powerful affirmation of faith. Is is no less a call to trust God than what follows: "Is it possible that He who did not spare tfis own Son...will not grant us "all dfings besides?" Most ofus fred it difficult to believe how much Cod really loves us. We also find it hard to trust I Iim. We have been betrayed too many times in the past by too many people; we are afraid the same will continue to happen. Our lack of trust is the sacrifice God asks us to lay on Moriah~s altar. Only when it is consumed in holocaust - as was the ram - will we be able to really live in faith. Only then will it be possible to share Abraham's blessings. Shall we begin our journey to Moriah? Rev. John Dietzen seems to me that I am on eves list for donations. I think I receive mail from almost every religious order in the states, plus many children's homes, veterans' hospitals, research organi- zations, etc. I am an 80-year- old widow on So- cial Security and a small miner's pen- sion from my hus- band. How much am I obligated? I re- ceive all kinds of cards, spiritual re- membrances, ad- dress stickers, pens, and some even attach a coin to the request. I have to draw the line somewhere as I can't keep up with all the reque s. I would appreciate any advice. Many older people are as upset as you are, confused over how they should respond to diese contacts. You have no obligation whatsoever to respond to, or pay for, or return anything that is sent unsolicited to you through the mail. Religious communities attempting to raise funds for their various activities mail such materials to tens, even hundreds, of thousands of Catholics. They have no expectation that more than a small percentage of people will respond; but that small percentage makes their mail- ings fmanciaUy worthwhile. Keep what is sent to you. If you wish to use some ofyour fimited money to respond to that particular religious organization, feel free to do so. But feel just as free to send it to another group with whom you feel a greater bond, or whose work you wish to support more fully. Do what you can and don't worry about it. Any religious order or congregation is fully aware that there are millions of people out there like you. They would want you to do only what is appropriate, considering your own personal finances and needs. comig CNS