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Friday, June 17, 2011

News about women from around the mission world

As Maryknollers from fields afar start to gravitate towards Mother Knoll to celebrate Jubilee on June 26 (for 25, 40, 45, 50 and 60 years of service to mission) followed by the all-time-consuming 100th Foundation Day on June 29th, the buzz around the salad bar has once again taken on a decidedly international flavor.

As one might expect, given recent developments, women's issues provide fodder, but not those we are accustomed (?) to discussing.

Fr. Doug May, in from Nairobi and of former and hopefully future Cairo fame, is in for his 25th. At table we were discussing the proposed ban on infant circumcision coming up in a referendum in San Francisco. I shall spare you the pros and cons in that conversation. But what was remarkable was Doug's observation that female circumcision is common practice among Orthodox Coptic women in Egypt because (ready for this?) the Blessed Virgin was circumcised. No Scriptural text was cited.

Meanwhile Brazil, with its first female president who, according to Fr. Bill Coy, isn't doing too well, has nonetheless made strides toward women's rights, according to Fr. Dennis Moorman who worked there in the past and plans to return next year. "Honor killings" of the type in the Muslim world, were, till recently accepted as justifiable homicide. A man could murder his wife if he even suspected her of infidelity. Although the law has been repealed, men still try to claim this defense, Dennis says.

In Korea, Fr. Russ Feldmeier has worked many years as part of a collaborative team with Sisters and lay people, to demonstrate the advantages of working together as equals. This is very well received, especially among Korean Sisters as one might expect in this still very patriarchal and hierarchal society and Church. That being said, according to Russ, women's ordination is just not an issue for Catholic women here. It may have something to do with the Confucian system which has a fixed place for everyone in Society. Korean women have learned how to exercise leadership and authority despite apparent restrictions.

I once again direct your attention to the NCR article I wrote and the more than 100 comments following. Most were pro Roy, as you'd expect from NCR readship, although a few people really went out on a limb to defend Maryknoll. One questioned mine and other priests' manhood but I was persuaded by a colleague not to pull a Weiner to disprove this. So to speak. Another questioned what price Maryknoll has paid. Apparently the loss of many sponsors and a tarnished reputation is small potatoes compared to the great hardship and unspeakable persecution Roy has faced. Many do not grasp the oath of obedience that binds us to one another as a Society. Several invoked the Nazi defense shot down at Nuremburg: "I was only following orders."

And lastly a Blogger's correction: in an earlier post I had misspelled Fr. Bob Lilly's name. Apologies! Yet even a Maryknoll Directory might not prevent this, as in alternating years it spelled my name with an "a" at the end instead of an "o". But the joys of this electronic age is that I can go back and make the correction.

1 comment:

  1. If Maryknoll is all about the evangelization of peoples, originally in China, but also including the U.S., Roy is doing precisely what Maryknoll is called to do.

    I and some of my Chinese students here in Hong Kong, where I am writing this, are aware of this discussion. It may be true that few people here in East Asia are engaged in the debate specifically about women's ordination. But most people here in East Asia these days know that "Confucian Society" is actually more about confusion than a just society. Do any Maryknollers now actually think that East Asians PREFER discrimination according to sex role stereotypes in the year 2011, if given a choice?
    This red herring is culturally condescending -- another problem the "Roman" "Catholic" Church needs to address.

    By this logic, Maryknoll should have been supporting the bound feet of Chinese women, if that was cultural norm. Now, would Maryknoll support Chinese parents' preference for male children?

    But how is this point about Korea/China/ Confucian societies relevant, anyway? When I discussed this with them, my Chinese students recognized this as false argumentation. Whatever the thinking of East Asians may or may not be, it in NO WAY argues for a position against women's ordination or opposes change in the U.S.

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