Sunday, June 10, 2012

Why I Keep Blogging: People Are Suffering (and Notes on Margaret Farley's Vatican Condemnation)

My reasons for thinking it's important for everyone to think about these issues is because people are suffering. All over the place, people are suffering.

Sr. Margaret Farley, addressing members of the Catholic Theological Society of America Friday evening and explaining why she wrote the book Just Love, for which the Vatican has just condemned her.

People are suffering.  All over the place, people are suffering: as theologian Mary Hunt says at Religion Dispatches, Margaret Farley has sought to develop a framework for doing Christian ethics that pays more than lip service to the postmodern situation within which people think today, which is multi-disciplinary and multi-religious in its orientation, and--very significant--grounded in concrete actions for justice.  And so, as Hunt thinks, 

Her critics simply miss the fact that Margaret Farley does not do ethics the way that they do. She does not share their ethical priorities on what Catholic moral theologian Daniel C. Maguire calls matters of the “pelvic zone.” Her scope is justice writ large—beginning in places where people are oppressed, violated, and demeaned. That the Vatican places masturbation at the top of its list highlights its perverted priorities in a deeply troubled world.

On the one side stand the men of the Vatican and their supporters, intently concerned with forcing everyone who does theology in the Catholic church, everyone who bears the name Catholic and combines that name with the vocation of a theologian, to share their preoccupation with condemning each and every act of masturbation as intrinsically and gravely evil.  And on the other side stand Margaret Farley and countless other Catholics and Catholic scholars living in the postmodern era, which is marked by intensive global suffering due to gross injustice, and who want to situate the discussion of Catholic ethics--including sexual ethics--within the framework of concern for justice.

And within the context of action in solidarity with those who suffer: as Hunt also observes,

The impact of Margaret Farley’s work will be measured in many ways, but none will be more accurate than an assessment of her long-term commitment to women who live with HIV/AIDS in Africa. In 2002, Margaret met with a group of African women theologians to discuss the pandemic in sub-Sahara Africa where women are the vast majority of those who suffer. The result was practical, not theoretical—the founding of a now-flourishing NGO, All-Africa Conference: Sister to Sister, with support from Margaret’s community, the Sisters of Mercy. She still makes regular visits to Uganda and Cameroon to teach and learn as a collaborator (my emphasis added).

Why do I keep blogging?  Why do I keep trying to pursue my thwarted theological vocation, which the men ruling the church have done everything possible to shatter by denying my partner Steve and me any position at all teaching theology in Catholic institutions?

It's because people are suffering.  All over the place, people are suffering.  And someone needs to hear their voices and give voice to their pain.  Someone needs to do so within a Catholic context if the claims that the Catholic community makes about itself are to have any credibility in the postmodern world in which we now live.

(And, yes, I'm also among those who suffer.  I speak as a fellow sufferer.  I've watched these condemnations of theologians roll forth one after the other for years now, as the Catholic Theological Society of America debates--over and over again--whether it dare show solidarity with a Charles Curran, a Matthew Fox, a Roger Haight, a so and so, etc., etc.

But never, that I can recall, has the question arisen in these tortuous debates whether CTSA can or should demonstrate solidarity with any of the lay theologians who have lost jobs in the Catholic academy solely because they are gay.  And so the voice with which the theological academy speaks so softly, and the situation of strained solidarity from which it speaks, have never had and will never have much impact at all on either the culture at large or in the halls of power in Rome, since the men ruling the church know that they can get away with atrocity after atrocity and still not rile theologians sufficiently to stir them to a position of solidarity with the violated and suffering that makes any real difference.)

Why do I keep struggling to blog?  Because someone needs to hear this point: people are suffering.  All over the place, people are suffering.

And someone needs to do something about the suffering.

No comments: