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When this relationship is damaged, their access to the face of God risks being compromised in turn. God's decisive words to the woman after the first sin express the kind of relationship which has now been introduced between man and woman: It will be a relationship in which love will frequently be debased into pure self-seeking, in a relationship which ignores and kills love and replaces it with the yoke of domination of one sex over the other.

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Indeed the story of humanity is continuously marked by this situation, which recalls the three-fold concupiscence mentioned by Saint John: In this tragic situation, the equality, respect and love that are required in the relationship of man and woman according to God's original plan, are lost. Reviewing these fundamental texts allows us to formulate some of the principal elements of the biblical vision of the human person.

Above all, the fact that human beings are persons needs to be underscored: The biblical vision of the human person suggests that problems related to sexual difference, whether on the public or private level, should be addressed by a relational approach and not by competition or retaliation. Furthermore, the importance and the meaning of sexual difference, as a reality deeply inscribed in man and woman, needs to be noted. The human dimension of sexuality is inseparable from the theological dimension. The human creature, in its unity of soul and body, is characterized therefore, from the very beginning, by the relationship with the other-beyond-the-self.

This relationship is presented as still good and yet, at the same time, changed. It is good from its original goodness, declared by God from the first moment of creation. It has been changed however by the disharmony between God and humanity introduced by sin. This alteration does not correspond to the initial plan of God for man and woman, nor to the truth of the relationship between the sexes. It follows then that the relationship is good, but wounded and in need of healing. What might be the ways of this healing? Considering and analyzing the problems in the relationship between the sexes solely from the standpoint of the situation marked by sin would lead to a return to the errors mentioned above.

The logic of sin needs to be broken and a way forward needs to be found that is capable of banishing it from the hearts of sinful humanity. It is a promise which will be preceded by a long preparation in history before it is realized. An early victory over evil is seen in the story of Noah, the just man, who guided by God, avoids the flood with his family and the various species of animals cf. But it is above all in God's choice of Abraham and his descendants cf. God begins in this way to unveil his countenance so that, through the chosen people, humanity will learn the path of divine likeness, that is, the way of holiness, and thus of transformation of heart.

Among the many ways in which God reveals himself to his people cf. This is paradoxical if we consider the drama recounted in Genesis and its concrete repetition in the time of the prophets, as well as the mixing of the sacred and the sexual found in the religions which surrounded Israel. God makes himself known as the Bridegroom who loves Israel his Bride. It is substantially the same reality which is expressed when, parallel to the mystery of God's action through the male figure of the suffering Servant, the Book of the prophet Isaiah evokes the feminine figure of Zion, adorned with a transcendence and a sanctity which prefigure the gift of salvation destined for Israel.

The Song of Songs is an important moment in the use of this form of revelation. In the words of a most human love, which celebrate the beauty of the human body and the joy of mutual seeking, God's love for his people is also expressed. The Church's recognition of her relationship to Christ in this audacious conjunction of language about what is most human with language about what is most divine, cannot be said to be mistaken.

In the course of the Old Testament, a story of salvation takes shape which involves the simultaneous participation of male and female. While having an evident metaphorical dimension, the terms bridegroom and bride — and covenant as well — which characterize the dynamic of salvation, are much more than simple metaphors.

This spousal language touches on the very nature of the relationship which God establishes with his people, even though that relationship is more expansive than human spousal experience. Likewise, the same concrete conditions of redemption are at play in the way in which prophetic statements, such as those of Isaiah, associate masculine and feminine roles in proclaiming and prefiguring the work of salvation which God is about to undertake. This salvation orients the reader both toward the male figure of the suffering Servant as well as to the female figure of Zion.

The prophetic utterances of Isaiah in fact alternate between this figure and the Servant of God, before culminating at the end of the book with the mystical vision of Jerusalem, which gives birth to a people in a single day cf. All these prefigurations find their fulfillment in the New Testament. On the other hand, the masculinity of the Son shows how Jesus assumes in his person all that the Old Testament symbolism had applied to the love of God for his people, described as the love of a bridegroom for his bride.

This aspect is particularly evident in the Gospel of John. In his apostolic activity, Paul develops the whole nuptial significance of the redemption by seeing Christian life as a nuptial mystery. He writes to the Church in Corinth, which he had founded: In the Letter to the Ephesians, the spousal relationship between Christ and the Church is taken up again and deepened in its implications. Reflecting on the unity of man and woman as described at the moment of the world's creation cf.

Drawn into the Paschal mystery and made living signs of the love of Christ and his Church, the hearts of Christian spouses are renewed and they are able to avoid elements of concupiscence in their relationship, as well as the subjugation introduced into the life of the first married couple by the break with God caused by sin.

For Christian spouses, the goodness of love, for which the wounded human heart has continued to long, is revealed with new accents and possibilities. It is in this light that Jesus, faced with the question about divorce cf.

Optional Inclusive Liturgies

The power of the resurrection makes possible the victory of faithfulness over weakness, over injuries and over the couple's sins. In the grace of Christ which renews their hearts, man and woman become capable of being freed from sin and of knowing the joy of mutual giving. The Apostle Paul does not say that the distinction between man and woman, which in other places is referred to the plan of God, has been erased.

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He means rather that in Christ the rivalry, enmity and violence which disfigured the relationship between men and women can be overcome and have been overcome. In this sense, the distinction between man and woman is reaffirmed more than ever; indeed, it is present in biblical revelation up to the very end. Male and female are thus revealed as belonging ontologically to creation and destined therefore to outlast the present time, evidently in a transfigured form. Celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom seeks to be the prophecy of this form of future existence of male and female.

For those who live it, it is an anticipation of the reality of a life which, while remaining that of a man and a woman, will no longer be subject to the present limitations of the marriage relationship cf. For those in married life, celibacy becomes the reminder and prophecy of the completion which their own relationship will find in the face-to-face encounter with God.

From the first moment of their creation, man and woman are distinct, and will remain so for all eternity. Placed within Christ's Paschal mystery, they no longer see their difference as a source of discord to be overcome by denial or eradication, but rather as the possibility for collaboration, to be cultivated with mutual respect for their difference. From here, new perspectives open up for a deeper understanding of the dignity of women and their role in human society and in the Church.

This intuition is linked to women's physical capacity to give life. Whether lived out or remaining potential, this capacity is a reality that structures the female personality in a profound way. It allows her to acquire maturity very quickly, and gives a sense of the seriousness of life and of its responsibilities. Of those hours immediately following her ordination, she says: Its depth, its beauty, are perceived without words.

I go toward it. I do not know what it is, but I go. But, after Czechoslovakia was released from Communist rule, the Vatican refused to recognize her ordination. And she has agreed to serve only in ways acceptable to the official church. But she has been ordained. Faith-filled, courageous Patricia Fresen, originally from South Africa and trained in the struggles there against apartheid, is outstanding among them. At this time there are 46 priests and six bishops ordained in this movement on our continent, with more to follow this year, both in May and October.

Their web site, www. We fully accept the authority of the Pope. We respect his personal integrity as an outstanding spiritual leader. But we are convinced that the Pope and his advisors in Rome are making a serious mistake by dismissing women as priests. We feel obliged in conscience to make our carefully considered reasons known, fulfilling our duty to speak out as our present Pope has repeatedly told us to do.

In our baptism, we have been immersed into the power of the Holy Spirit and anointed with chrism. From early on, the followers of Jesus believed, as Paul proclaimed: Therefore, we have persisted on our path, like our courageous ancestors in faith. Today, then, we come forward, once again. Wholeheartedly claiming our call, once again.

Wholeheartedly seeking the hope… courage… and joy to continue living into that call. Please come forward, then, to one of the leaders this would include the Prayer Leader and any of the readers , answer the questions put to you, and be anointed with holy oil. Will you continue to live into this call, for the good of our church and our world? Be sealed with the power of the Holy Spirit. Some appropriate taped music might be played at this time. Suggestions include the following music from the Taize community: Please turn to the person next to you and bless one another in the way that seems most fitting.

This is one of the most ancient texts in all of Scripture. The Crossroad Publishing Company, , p. Feast of the Annunciation. The inclusive liturgy below is intended simply as a guide. Please feel free to adapt the liturgy to meet the needs of your community gathering. For example, you may wish to break up the "celebrant" text among all members of your community, use alternative readings, or shorten the liturgy for a prayer service.

In addition, we recommend you choose songs that are familiar to your community. Welcome to the family of God, where all are truly welcomed and honored! May our God be with you. And also with you. God, grant us the peace and unity of your dwelling place as we gather in the name of the Christ who left your peace among us. Let us share that peace with one another. Mary, Blessed Mother of Jesus,.

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Embrace us this day with the strength, peace, and healing we need. To reflect the presence of the Holy One in our world. May we be prophetic voices for people of the world. Who suffer poverty, hunger and oppression,. May we work for justice and peace around the globe.

Flower-garland of the ocean,. Flower-garland of the land,. Flower-garland of the heavens,. Mary, Mother of Jesus,. We praise you, we thank you, we love you. I will not put YHWH to a test! Is it not enough for you to weary those around you, must you also weary my God? This young woman will become pregnant and will give you birth. You will name the child Immanu-El. You have no equal!

I want to recount them again and again,. Instead you made my ears receptive to you;. You asked no burnt offering. I desire to do your will, my God,. And your law is written in my heart. I have made no secret of your love and faithfulness in the Great Assembly. I serenade you with my verse, my leader: My tongue is like the pen of a skillful writer. Let your right hand proclaim your awesome deeds! They pierce the hearts of your enemies. God, your God, has set you above your companions. Stringed instruments entertain you in ivory palaces.

Give this your full attention: It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Prepared a body for me,. You took no pleasure. In the scroll of the book,. Check on quotation marks here. I have come to do your will. Our God be with you. A reading from the holy gospel according to John: Glory to you, O God. God is with you! Blessed are you among women! You have found favor with God.

God will give Jesus the judgment seat of David, his ancestor, 33 to rule over the house of Jacob forever, and his reign will never end. Let it be done to me as you say. With that, the angel left her.

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The holy gospel of Jesus, the Anointed One. Praise to you, O Christ. Shatter the Stained Glass Ceiling. Prayers of the Faithful: Or you may develop more traditional intercessions. Out of our depths we cry to you. We need women priests…to witness daily for nonviolence in a world gone mad with the power of weapons and guns and greed.

Bridget Mary Meehan

We need women priests…to put their bodies on the line and witness to the Powers that Be to stop bloodshed. We need women priests…to speak up to the government and voice the basic needs of the grassroots — which have gone unmet for so long. We need women priests…to preach the Good News to the poor, the oppressed and exploited, and to empower them mightily. We need women priests…to boldly proclaim the Gospel so that it afflicts the rich and comfortable — who need shaking up.

We need women priests…to name the injustices-which are many-that take us away from the fullness of our humanity. We need women priests…to demand respect for our Earth and her life-giving waters. We need women priests…to celebrate the holy passages of our lives, the sacraments, including the Eucharist. Blessed are you, God of all creation, through your goodness we have this bread to offer which earth has given and human hands have made. It will become for us the bread of life.

Blessed be God forever. Blessed are you, God of all creation. Through your goodness we have this wine to offer, fruit of the vine and work of human hands. It will become our spiritual drink. My sisters and brothers, let us pray together that these our gifts may be acceptable to God our Creator. Ever gentle God, Christ washed the feet of the disciples as an example for us. Accept our gifts and our worship. By offering ourselves, as a spiritual sacrifice, may we be filled with the spirit of humility and love.

We ask this through Christ, our brother. Lift up your hearts. We lift them up to God. Let us give thanks to our gracious God. It is right to give God thanks and praise. Blessed are you, compassionate and faithful God. The Church, the community, and the State. Whenever there is a report of sexual abuse that comes to light in the media, everyone sits up and gets outraged. Calls to hang them and skin them alive become hashtags and trends on social media. Once we have done that enough times in our heads, we feel we have addressed the issues and quietly go about our everyday lives.

At a time when sexual misconduct by the clergy has rocked the Catholic Church in the US and elsewhere around the world, and the packed closets of decades of abuse have been tumbling out, India is seeing its own closet moment. Five nuns of the Missionaries of Jesus have been on protest for over 10 days against the rape of one of their own, a year-old nun who was no less than a former Mother-General.

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This means that she was not a fledgling novice, but was someone with power and authority within her order. The order to which the nuns belong comes under his direct authority. Her oral complaints to her Mother Superior and written complaints to others in the hierarchy did not have any redressal. The police had summoned the bishop for questioning only once since the complaint, and no action other than that has been taken against him.

The power structures both within and outside the Church have been quick to condemn the nun who lodged the complaint and remarkably threw their weight behind the accused bishop in being neutral to be "read" as taking his side. All the above information is in the public domain. The issue having been highlighted has become a topic of national debate on a wide variety of platforms.

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Although the matter has been under the spotlight, what is more remarkable, and not entirely surprising is the silence of the wider public on the matter. The reasons are many. For whom do the alarm bells ring? Over the years, the reporting on sexual violence and abuse has been something that we have grown to hear about with increasing frequency from all quarters. We have heard of rapes on the streets, in moving buses, cabs, during communal clashes, against Dalit and Adivasi communities perpetrated by a higher caste, gangrape, child rapes, rapes of orphans in State-run shelters, academic institutions, gay rapes, incestuous rapes, marital rapes, custodial rapes, rapes in institutions for persons with disability and so on.

The rape of a nun did not exactly create outrage for the larger public. It just expanded the territory of the crime. In fact, very few such reports ever cause public outrage and resultant swift action by the authorities. In the case of the repeated rape of the nun, unfortunately more people are inclined to take the case of the bishop rather than the nun.

The alleged assaults happened a few years back. Once is rape, but 13 times? Why did she go to his room? How could a Man of God do such a thing? According to a report , there were The only people making some noise are a few feminist movements. The reasons for the silence are many. Many are of the view that it is an internal matter for the Church to clean its dirty linen. People of faith within the Church believe that retribution will come from above, so it is alright to let the bishop go scot-free at the moment.

He will be ultimately punished if guilty. Some people would like to hush up the matter or stay silent, biding time until this blows over and dies a death of amnesia in the public arena. The Church is slowly but surely losing its place of prominence as a moral authority. The rape incidents does little to help its image. Self-preservation always trumps efforts to administer justice. Politically too, there is resistance on the part of the State to intervene, due to vote bank concerns.

Or so it is believed. But the reasons may be more complex than that. Men will defend other men even when they are separated by ideology, party, colour or race. Power will come to the rescue of power in order to keep the status quo. Have we not seen politicians of every hue always taking the side of evil corporations and powerful banks?

MLA PC George calling for a virginity test of all the protesting nuns is a classical example of how men of power will shield other men in power. The police force is predominantly men and therefore, its reluctance to act. Sexual abuse whether within the Church or outside of it should concern us all. The power dynamics that create and perpetuate the crime are universal.

Inequality is the solid rock upon which the structures of society are built, and the Church is not exempt from it. Rape is just a manifestation of this inequality. Unless the Church and the society of which it is a part address the structural gender inequality at all levels, we will continue to hear incidents more brazen than these from all sides. There are three kinds of sexual harassment: One leads to the next in a vicious cycle of violence.

While the cultural narrative focuses on rape, most of us will not even register or protest an act of gender-based harassment which is far more prevalent. They occur every day in every space. A missed opportunity, a slight, an insult, a humiliation are far too common to report. How many times have woman lost out on a promotion, equal wages, learning opportunities or been asked questions on their competence, simply because of their gender?

How often are women asked to make the coffee or clear the plates in an office space? That is no big deal. Often women have to work harder to prove their competence. Their work and contribution often goes unrecognised. They have to try harder to get approvals from their superiors for even trivial things that men get effortlessly. Because of the power differential, women learn to suffer in silence.

Research from all over the world accumulated over 30 years shows that sexual harassment and abuse is more likely to occur in environments that are male-dominated and where hierarchical relationships exist in the institution. The Church is a classic example of a predominant, if not all-male, leadership with a strict hierarchy where women are vastly outnumbered within its power structure. The nuns are isolated from the world outside by design.

The culture of the Church is tinged with misogyny and male privilege. She said that the generous service and obedience of nuns led to them being exploited and underappreciated. She described how nuns were often chosen to provide the domestic services of cooking, cleaning and laundering for cardinals, bishops, parishes and other church structures with little or no financial compensation to their religious orders, no contractual arrangements and no formal work schedules — the sort lay people would have.

This according to her and other sisters who were interviewed leads to situations marked by ambiguity and often great injustice. A lack of recognition or respect is also a problem, as their work is considered less valuable or appreciated than that of consecrated men. They remarked how religious women and nuns almost always end up as the domestic workers for the consecrated men. Sisters often keep quiet and say they are happy due to their vows of poverty, obedience and loyalty to their order, but experience great confusion and deep discouragement.

Interestingly, most priests do not take a vow of poverty. Not only do the priests wield more power but also considerable wealth within its institutions. It is obvious that the male hierarchy and patriarchy is at the root of the problem. For all the faltering progress that most institutions have made over the past century with regard to gender parity within its ranks, the Church has been the last to catch up. Mary Magdalene was a close friend of Jesus', and Phoebe was a leader of the early church, but we are yet to see a woman cardinal in more than 2, years of the history of the Catholic Church.

The wings that have begun to flutter in Kerala are sooner or later bound to create repercussions in the Vatican. Church and sexual abuse: Pope has never done much about these incidents, says ex-nun Mary Chandy. On the road across from the high court of Kerala, a state that was once known for having a matrilineal society, the nuns stepped out of their cloistered lives, marching with placards warning that their lives were in danger.

They were demanding action against Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who they say raped one of the nuns 13 times between and While the man charged with rape has so far been interrogated just once, the woman has been questioned five times. The police made no arrest. The case, which some Christian reformists say may lift the shroud off a much deeper rot within, has exposed the brazen insensitivity and lack of compassion from those who say they speak for God. While the guilt or innocence of the accused bishop will be established by court, it is unacceptable that the Catholic sect should confer upon itself the right to divine adjudication of right and wrong.

The confidence with which the religious order has been able to run a parallel inquiry of its own reflects the impunity it believes it enjoys. In a state where Christians make up 18 percent of the population, the clergy seems far too powerful to be taken on directly, by either the ruling communists or the opposition Congress party. Christian activists fighting for reforms in the Church have been at the forefront of calling out the hypocrisy of both parties that otherwise claim to occupy the left-liberal space in national politics. They think the Catholics will vote according to what these priests want.

The ruling party has been insensitive.