By Diogenes (articles ) | Aug 22, 2005

The gospel for the Sunday before last was the encounter with the Canaanite woman, right? And at every single Gather-Us-In Catholic parish in the anglophone world the faithful heard a 30-year-old homily arguing that Jesus was mistakenly trapped in a narrow Judean worldview until corrected by an emancipated woman, right? Right. And in ninety-five cases out of a hundred the homilist went on to draw the wearyingly predictable conclusion: if Jesus was fallible, how much more fallible is our sexist Catholic Church! We know every move in the sermon, as frequent fliers know that flight attendants' safety briefing, by heart. Listen to Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, operating on autopilate:

In the church we face a terrible crisis right now. You know our parish is in danger of being closed by the end of this year. I don't think it's going to happen, so don't worry, but it could. Certainly many parishes are going to be closed. Why? Not for financial reasons. One reason -- there are not enough ordained priests. That's the reason we can't have small communities, and yet there are people thinking in the church, women, who are saying, "I have a vocation! I am called by God!" And they have the talent and the training and the ability to minister. Well, we live in the church or part of the church that refuses to be open, to listen, to the women in our midst. How wrong that is! And we build it right into our church law, which could be changed. One of the reasons women aren't listened to is because no woman has any office in the church. The only reason a woman can't have an office in the church, why a woman could not be a cardinal, for example, help to elect the Pope, is because we made laws -- the men in the church made laws -- that make that impossible. The law, the canon law of the church says, "Only an ordained person can hold office." Then we say only men can be ordained, and so only men can hold office. How wrong that is!

We're not listening as a church. Our leadership especially, but maybe some of us even would not be willing to have a woman lead our community. But if we could be more like Jesus we would listen, we would be open to letting ourselves be changed, breaking down some of our prejudices, some of the bias that has been built into us over many years and out of the culture of which we're part. If we could be more like Jesus, we could connect with our humanness, and like Jesus who first turned that woman away but then was willing to listen, we could be conver --

Click. Tom my man, the "converted" church you're praying for already exists. In septuplicate. Every liberal protestant denomination has heeded the call of the Canaanite woman in exactly the way you suggest. That enormous reservoir of wisdom steadily collecting over two millennia behind the dam of patriarchal intransigence has, since the mid-1970s, burst forth to water the spirit-starved earth. The result? Exceptionless diminishment in piety, amity, doctrinal sanity, and -- let's face it -- interest. After the novelty wears off, the canaanite christianity you pretend to yearn for -- beachwear accessories notwithstanding -- becomes boring to the canaanites as well.

I notice you treat the gospel -- as do your fellow Da Vinci Coders -- as an occult text whose true meaning eluded the blundering bishops who assembled the canon and passed it down, only to be recovered in recent times. The world-changing message vouchsafed to you is, as it happens, standard feminist cant from the 1970s. Your contention that Jesus was "converted" to this tosh is rescued from blasphemy by stupidity: you can't really mean that a prejudiced God was saved from Himself by one of his creatures. Small wonder your sham pentecost is a flop. The emptiness of the liberal churches bears witness to the fact that no human endeavor is more tedious than that of helping God get God's act together.

Given the need to strike poses before the news cam, Tom, I can understand your affectation of concern for perishable feminine wisdom. But were it a genuine interest I think you might have asked yourself this question: In actual fact, who are the persons who read pre-20th century women for the purpose of deepening and reordering the meaning of their lives (as opposed to gathering material for a dissertation) -- and which women do they in fact read? You'd find that the readers aren't your trendy fellow travelers, but nuns, monks, and hard-core orthodox Christians filled to the eyebrows with the religion you call prejudice. And you'd find the authors they read -- Julian of Norwich, Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila and so forth -- simply vanquish your own faux-feminist Christology. No doubt you've had a ball playing the maverick visionary for so many years, but you're playing to an empty house. Isn't it time to move on?

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  • Posted by: - Aug. 23, 2005 9:22 PM ET USA

    Sorry, but I agree with "benedictusoblatus" (very first comment). If people like "Bishop" Thomas Gumbleton are not excommunicated, then in a way we are wrong and they are right. It's like our Prime Minister here in Canada, Paul Martin. He claims he's a Catholic, and has shoved same-sex "marriage" down our throats (and of course supports abortion). His Bishop (Marcel Gervais) claims Martin is a Catholic... Until the Pope cleans things up, (in a way) we are the fools...

  • Posted by: Meg Q - Aug. 23, 2005 5:24 PM ET USA

    Can you get clerical shirts like that from Gammarelli? Almy? Toomey? And are they only appropriate for Ordinary Time? What about rainbow stoles - what is their liturgical appropriateness? Depends on the background color, right? Or the color at the ends of the stole? V. confusing.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 23, 2005 4:09 PM ET USA

    Last year we wrote a letter to our bishop explaining why we would not be giving to the Bishop's yearly appeal--that we had decided to give only to organizations that unapologetically uphold the Church, defend the Pope and teach the magestarium. His single reply: I AM IN COMMUNION WITH THE CHURCH. Why, God?

  • Posted by: - Aug. 23, 2005 2:40 PM ET USA

    What is that woman holding? Is that a cookie? It looks too thick to be anything else. I don't think you can get more scandelous than this. Barefoot, short pants, hawaiian shirt, "rainbow sash", what appears to be a mock of a priest, possibly female (you can't tell for sure), garbage can and surfboard for an altar, ciborium replaced by gift bags, sunglasses, outside on the beach, I know I'm missing much more here. Someone tell me, is that a needle in his/her arm, or a gull in the distance?

  • Posted by: Vincit omnia amor - Aug. 23, 2005 1:24 PM ET USA

    How can Bp. G be allowed to continue in office? His remarks over the years have been scandolous. You'd think he'd be allowed to "resign." Accusing the Church heirarchy as promoting injustices toward women because women can not be ordained is just one of his many sins against Truth and Unity: but this issue is not a small matter. As JPII stated in the encyclical, it "pertains to the Church's divine CONSTITUTION itself." It's akin to removing numerous bricks from the foundation! SERIOUS INDEED!

  • Posted by: - Aug. 23, 2005 6:35 AM ET USA

    Years ago I wouldn't have minded being labeled a "feminist" ---- it implied a belief that men and women are equals. Unfortunately, that label now is most often given to people who think that men and women are equivalents.

  • Posted by: Sterling - Aug. 23, 2005 12:21 AM ET USA

    "And at EVERY SINGLE Gather-Us-In Catholic parish in the anglophone world the faithful heard a 30-year-old homily," etc. "And in NINETY-FIVE CASES OUT OF ONE HUNDRED the homilist went on to draw the wearyingly predictable conclusion" etc. Can these statements be any more sweeping? This fan longs to see more CWNews restraint! Otherwise, your site will begin to sound like "Straw-Men"

  • Posted by: Fr. William - Aug. 23, 2005 12:06 AM ET USA

    I'm with you Patriot6908 and thirdson. Bishop Gumbleton has very few listeners. But look, he's still doing damage to the episcopacy. For until he is officially silenced, declared to be out of Communion with Holy Mother Church, he will be taking, at some level, credibility away from the orthodox bishops. I wonder: do you think the two, uh, errr, ladies in the photo got their surfboard/garbage-can-altar inspiration from Cdl. Mahony's creative venture with his "cathedral" & "para-liturgies?"

  • Posted by: Meg Q - Aug. 22, 2005 9:47 PM ET USA

    Autopilate . . . heh . . . heh heh . . . Y'know, though, if you were "waiting" for JPII "to die" (and I know more than a couple of people who put it that way), well, things aren't exactly going to go your way with the "German Shepherd". I wouldn't be surprised if this produces more and shriller "calls to action", so to speak.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 22, 2005 6:25 PM ET USA

    As a very recent convert from the "Episcopal" church, by way of several non-denoms, I can tell the Bishop what happens to a community led by ordained, and nonordained women; it dies a whimpering death. Men quickly leave, the women soon turn to goddess worship, not worship of Him who died to forgive our sins. ..because HE lives..

  • Posted by: - Aug. 22, 2005 5:42 PM ET USA

    Since Grumbleton is no longer in union with the Holy Father and the Church, why should any "Catholic" pay any attention to him? He is a pied piper leading the elect to perdition. Where is his Cardinal Archbishop? Jashu

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Aug. 22, 2005 5:41 PM ET USA

    How does Bishop Tom (as I'm sure he wants to be called) reconcile this with the Declaration Inter Insigniores (1976), John Paul II's Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem (1988), and his Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (1994) in which: in order that all doubt may be removed...I declare that the Church has no authority to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful

  • Posted by: - Aug. 22, 2005 3:30 PM ET USA

    Yes, he is playing to an increasingly empty house. And that's a good reason not to make this has-been prelate a martyr for some cause that the NYT would triumph. There is an audience for His Excellency. But that audience is getting on the far side of AARP membership and is beginning to slide towards that judgement that none of us should want to face. The Lord surely must love clowns so there is a place for the paisley ladies and the foppery of Bishop Gumbleton.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 22, 2005 2:57 PM ET USA

    Then we say only men can be ordained, and so only men can hold office. How wrong that is! What's he talking about? It's nothing surprising now to find non-ordained people, including women, holding offices in diocesan curias: chancellors, vicars for education, for religious, etc.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 22, 2005 1:47 PM ET USA

    The photo says it all: a garbage can covered with plastic, a surf board for a mensa, two gift bags probably filled with pita bread scraps. Even the Caananite woman wouldn't eat the scraps from this table.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 22, 2005 1:09 PM ET USA

    As my old Irish mother was wont to say: "You are known by the company you keep." Bp. Gumbleton's longtime endorsement of the Call to Action heterodoxical feminist agenda has borne fruit. The Gospel proclaimed by Christ and His Church for 2000 years will always be a "sign of contradiction" and a "hard saying" for many. So, "To whom shall we go...?" Certainly not to Bp. Gumbleton and his ilk.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 22, 2005 12:26 PM ET USA

    The Thomas Gumbletons of the world are not just nitwits ... they are a direct challenge to the papacy. Unless the Pope gets rid of them he shares their guilt. This is a huge problem that he has full authority and jurisdiction to solve.