Friday, 29 April 2011

"We Are the Church": Sr Jeannine Gramick

“I think the best way we convey how we believe is not words; it’s the way we act,” Sr Gramick told students at Columbia Collegege Chicago April 1. Gramick said lay Catholics are far ahead of Catholic leaders on gay issues.
“This happens in a lot of religious traditions, where the people lead their religious leaders,” Gramick said. “The real people who matter are the people in these religious institutions who may not be the leaders, the people in the pews.” The Catholic Church would better fulfil its mission, Gramick said, by listening to those people and meeting them without judgment.
“When we say ‘church,’ most of us most of the time really mean ‘church leaders.’ I’d like to get back to the people. It’s really the people in the church,” Gramick said. “The church needs to have a little conversion, and we have to realize that we are the church.”
One of the tragedies of the modern Catholic Church is how fully many Catholics have fallen for the Vatican line that it is they qho control the Church, and that change is impossible unless it is authorized from above, This idea of absolute Vatican power is completely contradicted by the Gospels, and by the practice of the earliest Christians (as described in Acts, and in other early Christian writing). It is the result, rather of a continuous, gradual power grab over many centuries.
The decentralization of power seldom arises from a magnanimous change of heart by those who have it. More usually, it comes as a result of those who are nominally excluded demonstrating and exercising the de facto power that they hold by virtue of numbers. This has happened in the Church before: where there has been significant changes in Church teaching in the past, it has been the result of the Vatican following, not leading the people. On marriage, for instance, Fr Jospeh O'Leary has observed:
It is only since the 15th century or so that the Church itself has defined marriage as a sacrament. Such redefinitions come from the people in the first case, and are only later ratified by church and state. Today the Church has to face the growing reality of gay unions that resemble marriage, and when it buries its head in the stand, refuses to come up with an intelligent response, refuses dialogue and consultation, it is only making itself ridiculous.
Exactly the same process is currently unfolding in the Catholic church, across the whole field of sexual ethics. The Vatican approved doctrines have been demonstrably rejected by the Church as a whole. It is only a matter of time before the oligarchy in Rome catches up.
Gramick was talking here with the Columbia students after a screening of In Good Conscience: Sister Jeannine Gramick's Journey of Faith, the award-winning 2004 documentary film by filmmaker Barbara Rick. Related Postsat QTC:
Fr Owen O'Sullivan Series on Gay Inclusion:

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