Thursday, August 19, 2010

Catholic Women Speaking Truth to Power

As Irish grandmother Jennifer Sleeman organizes a boycott of Sunday Mass in September calling on the faithful women of Ireland to let the Catholic officials know that women are tired of being treated as second-class citizens, I'm reading Irish theologian Carmel McEnroy's book Guests in Their Own House: The Women of Vatican II (NY: Crossroad, 1996).  Carmel writes (p. 264) about the current strong movement in which the women of Ireland, the mná na hÉireann, have begun to speak out in defense of their children who have been abused by clerics, and to assert their right to carry on the faith of their mothers and fathers at a time when the hierarchy are bankrupting the church.

The final words of Carmel's book are galvanizing, and might have been written as a mission statement for the boycott Ms. Sleeman is organizing.  Carmel writes,

Women of the church everywhere, claim your power.  As successors to Mary Magdalene—not the sinful woman, but the apostle to the apostles—fulfil the command of Jesus to go and tell Peter and the other disciples what you see and hear.  Jesus is risen and continues to rise in women and all who are put down by church and society and dare to break silence about it (p. 272).

Powerful words.  From Carmel's mouth to God's ears.