Chittister: We can't suppress the Spirit

Chittister: We can't suppress the Spirit

by Joan Chittister, 1996.

Benedictine Sister JOAN CHITTISTER of Erie, PA prayed over the CDF document, then penned her column for the National Catholic Reporter.

IT BEGAN TO OCCUR TO ME AS I read the Ratzinger document that maybe we should quit concentrating on the ordination question for a while and ask some other questions, like:

...Can an office of the Vatican declare a papal statement infallible? And can they do it ex post facto? Any time they want to? Maybe hundreds of years rather than months after it was written? Why is it that when bishops all over the world ask for this issue to be discussed, they are simply ignored? When, on the other hand, one of the Vatican congregations addresses the issue unilaterally - even defines its undefined terms - without consultation from the world's body of bishops, let alone the people of God, the subject is happily opened in order to be closed. And without a bishop in sight. Have we come to the point where the bishops of the church are even more ignored than the women of the church?

I am now more convinced than ever that this subject is not closed, in fact, has not even been opened. It has only been suppressed. The problem with suppression is that what it may seem to solve at first glance, it channels into more dangerous situations. Water pent up by a boulder gains power and becomes a river in the sand next to it.

There lies the real problem. Women's Eucharists may well begin to break out all over now, just as communion in the hand became common when people realized that what was at issue was authority and not the nature of eucharistic devotion, just as universal language did when people realized that male pronouns were not of the essence of God's message to humankind.

No, the suppression of the Spirit solves nothing. The Spirit will blow where it wills. The suppression of honest and credible questions simply diminishes the ongoing search for God in life, damages the church, dispirits the people of God, depresses churchgoing fathers who know their girl children to be as fully human as themselves, and drains the church of more and more women every day, who generation after generation from now on will warn their daughters against such a place.

Reprinted with permission from "Called to Action", www.cta-usa.org

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