As Catholic school children, we memorized the Corporal Works of Mercy. As an adult I find that St. Francis managed to get it right in his prayer…the hatred…love, injury…pardon, sadness…joy kind of prayer.
The current issue of National Catholic Reporter has several articles considering the works of mercy, primarily a backdoor sort of article about the Phoenix bishop’s threat to end Catholic status for a local hospital.
Phyllis Zagano (current issue of NCR) writes about the purse strings controlling contributions to the church. This newspaper has several references to the anger and unrest generated by the Church mandated visits to convents in the United States. Could the Vatican be considering a mitigation of the why of the visits because the smaller contributions are reflecting that anger and unrest?
The reader of NCR often sees priests, bishops, cardinals and the Pope dressed in splendid robes, surrounded by gold in many forms. Elaborate ceremonies feature the male clergy in pomp and circumstance.
And the women of the church? What ceremonies? What gold? What splendid robes clothe these women living the Corporal Works of Mercy, the heartbeat of the Jesus philosophy.
No doubt there are males, priests and dedicated lay persons doing the down-and-dirty work of caring, but women do most of this work of the church–women not good enough to be ordained.
No priest has ever phoned and asked for pots, pans, dishes as Sister Bridget did. Families in need prompted her drive to my home to gather what I could provide.
Sister Carol Ann and Sister Barbara are manning (odd word, right?) the trenches every single day, giving, supporting, counseling, providing.
Historically, the women of the church carried hospital bed-pans, changed linen, ministered to sores and sickness. Women of the church wiped our noses, enlightened our minds and held our hands as we made our way.
When will authority and equity come together in the Catholic Church? When will the lay persons, the heart and soul of any church, refuse to perpetuate the male dominated culture?
Sadly, those purse strings just might be the only way to open the way.