The Womens Ordination Conference in Philadelphia

Tomorrow, please God, I will be in Philadelphia, to attend and address the Womens Ordination Worldwide Conference.
I have already been reminded many times, and no later than this morning, that I should not be attending, that I am putting myself even more out on a limb, and greatly lessening whatever chance there might be of being restored to public ministry. I have been reminded that the sainted John Paul has said the final word on this subject, and that forever and a day, it can never be discussed again.
But I am happy to go. Over the last few years I have got to know many of the women and men involved in this movement, and they have impressed me. When they asked me to come, to show support for what they are doing, I knew I could not refuse.
This movement is about a lot more than just the ordination of women. It is much wider than that, and if you read some of their history you will see that for many of them ordination, per se, is not the most important thing. They have too many questions about the whole area of ministry in the Church to be satisfied by getting women with roman collars around their necks; and they realise full well that women would probably be just as inclined to fall in to the worst excesses of clericalism as men.

Will my attending and speaking lessen my chances of being allowed back into ministry. Maybe. I don’t know. I am currently reading And the Mountains Echoed, by Khalid Hosseini, which is (I think) a marvellous book. One of the characters says the following:
‘I have lived a long time, and one thing I have come to see is that one is well served by a degree of humility and charity when judging the inner workings of another person’s heart”.
I try to live by that as best I can, because I have seen clearly the damage that bitterness and anger can do to someone. But the Vatican establishment, and particularly the CDF, make me struggle in this department!!
People like Raymond Burke and William Levada, old American cardinals, going around the world making dogmatic statements about peoples’ lives. The group of largely old church ‘dignitaries” who are writing books before the Synod laying down the law about marriage, family life and relationships. They who have lived in luxury throughout their lives, with people cow-towing to them, kissing their ring, and calling them ‘Your Eminence’. I find it hard to accept that they are motivated by love of God and others, but that they are instead driven by their love of power and control.
And then there is Gerhart Meuller in the CDF, the man who presented me with a document that gave me no choice except to either grovel or be thrown out. Did he do that out of love for the Church? I don’t believe so for a minute. I find it hard to believe that whatever motive he had was good or holy. And when my superior general told me later that he had said to him: “I suppose we could have handled that Flannery case better” I was revolted. If he had any care for me as a human person, one stroke of his pen would have rectified the whole situation.

Apologies to Hosseini.  Clearly I have a bit to go before I can repeat what his character said!

So I do not sit waiting for the Vatican to change its mind. And I am happy to go the the conference in Philadelphia, and to spend these few days with people I admire and that it is good to be with.