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Published by Patricia Dillon

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Published by: Patricia Dillon on Jun 09, 2012
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African theologian questions church’s exclusion of women
Published on National Catholic Reporter (http://ncronline.org)
African theologian questions church’s exclusion of women
Jun. 08, 2012 ByJoshua J. McElwee[1] Fr. Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator and Fr. William O’Neill (NCR photos/Joshua J. McElwee)
-- Problems of discrimination and exclusion are so manifest within the Catholic community today that thechurch “totters on the brink of compromising its self-identity as the basic sacrament of salvation,” a theologian told hispeers here Friday.Speaking frankly to some 300 colleagues assembled for an annual meeting of the Catholic Theological Society ofAmerica (CTSA), Jesuit Fr. Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator said that of particular concern is the disregarded role ofwomen in the church.Saying that women are often the “face of redemption turned visibly” toward those the church serves, but are often“banished beyond the borders of relevance,” Orobator said the state of their participation in the church communityleads to an uncomfortable question.“As a church, so long as we surreptitiously but tenaciously rehearse the politics of discrimination and exclusion, westand before God, as Cain was, befuddled by a question that we simply cannot wish away at the wave of a magisterialwand,” said Orobator.“And the question is: ‘Church, where is your sister? Church where is your mother?’”Orobator’s comments came in a plenary session Friday morning during the four-day CTSA convention. The 67thannual gathering of the group, the theme for this year’s event is “Sacrament/s and the Global Church.”Orobator is a native Nigerian who now teaches at the Jesuit School of Theology and Institute of Peace Studies inNairobi, Kenya and also serves as the head of the Eastern Africa province of Jesuits, which encompasses Kenya,Ethiopia, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.Titling his talk “A Global Sign of Outward Growth: the Sacramentality of the World Church in the Era of Globalization,”Orobator covered a wide-range of topics, focusing on the meaning of the sacraments and the church’s sacramentalityin a global context.Orobator’s addressing of the role of women in the church came after the priest said that while the liturgical reformspassed during the Second Vatican Council prioritized “active participation and wide inclusivity” of lay people in thechurch, they are “in reality, however … used by some to warrant exclusion of women from sacramental ministry andleadership.”
Copyright © The National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company115 E. Armour Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64111(TEL 1-816-531-0538 FAX 1-816-968-2268)Send comments about this Web site to:webkeeper@ncronline.org PRIVACY POLICY ADVERTISING POLICY Page 1 of 3
African theologian questions church’s exclusion of women
Published on National Catholic Reporter (http://ncronline.org)Following his remarks on the role of women, Orobator also questioned a number of other areas where, he said, thechurch doesn’t reflect its notion of sacramentality.“On the evidence of current events, this ‘socially constituted,’ hierarchically regimented, dogmatically policed, andclerically asphyxiated community called church increasingly signifies hurt and pain for some people of God on accountof their vulnerability, silence and intimidation for others on account of their honest engagement in the venerable task of
fides quarens intellectum 
, and exclusion and marginalization for many, very many, on account of their gender, race, orsocial location.“I contend that these multiple degrees of exclusion and polarization stultify the pivotal claim of Vatican II regardingecclecisial sacramentality as a sign of communion with God among women and men.”Concluding his talk by referencing the changes in the church’s make-up as the church in Global South is experiencinggrowth, Orobator said the church community is undergoing a “paradigm shift resembling an eccesial Copernicanrevolution.”“The multi-dimensional, multi-cultural, and multi-ethnic constitution of the community called church invites us to a feastof diversity and celebration of plurality, spread out on the table of mutuality, appreciation, and gratitude for each humanbeing as
Imago Dei 
, Orobator ended.“I believe that it lies within the realm of possibility to transform our church into a truly catholic and richly texturepatchwork of different genders, races, generations, orientations, ministries, and faith traditions that signify the savingpresence of God in our midst.”Following Orobator’s remarks was a response by Jesuit Fr. William O’Neill, an associate professor of social ethics atthe Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley.Commenting on the nature of the sacraments as things which “effect reconciliation” between God and God’s people,O’Neill said in order for that reconciliation to come about, the church “must first be reconciled” to its own failings,particularly to those that he called “sins of ecclesial hubris.”The first among those sins needing reconciling, said O’Neill, is the clergy sex abuse crisis.Also among those sins, said O’Neill, are the Vatican’s recent moves against the umbrella organization representingthe majority of U.S. women religious and Mercy Sr. Margaret Farley, a prominent moral theology whose book
Just Love 
was sharply criticized by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on Monday.Quoting a passage from Farley’s work -- “How long have I been with you and still you do not know me? -- O’Neill saidthe church needs a “good dose of women-inspired learning.Orobator and O’Neill’s addresses Friday came in the second of four plenary sessions expected at the weekend CTSAgathering. On Thursday night, the event opened with an address from Jesuit Fr. Bruce Morrill, an associate professorat Boston College.Morrill’s remarks Thursday followed an opening liturgy that saw the theologians mark the passing of a number ofcolleagues who have died in the past year.As Mary Jane Ponyik, the society’s executive director, played a simple piano refrain, theologians associated withindividuals who had passed away came up to the front of the group to remember their colleagues.The first called to mind was Jesuit Fr. Dean Brackley, a priest who moved from New York to El Salvador in 1990 towork at the University of Central America following the killing of six Jesuits and two women there by governmentmilitary forces in 1989.Remembering Brackley, who died of cancer last October, a colleague said the priest “worked from a desk, but never
Copyright © The National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company115 E. Armour Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64111(TEL 1-816-531-0538 FAX 1-816-968-2268)Send comments about this Web site to:webkeeper@ncronline.org PRIVACY POLICY ADVERTISING POLICY Page 2 of 3

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