Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Theologian Mary Hunt on Papal Elections: "Unrivaled Displays of Kyriarchy" and "Ancient Rituals of a Men's Club Cloning Its Own Head"

I'll admit it: it's hard not to like a statement about the upcoming papal election which observes, in its opening sentences, the following:

Unrivaled displays of kyriarchy will be beamed into our homes as reporters explain piously the ancient rituals of a men’s club cloning its own head. 

This is theologian Mary Hunt talking about the transition in the papacy in an essay entitled "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" at the Feminist Studies in Religion website. And then she goes on:

Sensible feminist friends ask why I worry about such things. I reply that some women’s birth control and abortions are at stake; some young LGBTIQ people will commit suicide because of this crowd. Abuse survivors live with the consequences of acts perpetrated by priests and covered up by these bishops, cardinals, and now popes (plural). Sounds dramatic, but sadly it is true. Moreover, male entitlement in the world, including the violence done to women and girls, is baptized and confirmed by this symbol system. It has the pernicious impact of making the male-only power model seem holy. Ditto for the racist, heterosexist dimensions as well, not to mention the Euro-centrism and moneyed assumptions that underlie the proceedings. 

I like, as well, her important point that these transition events cast a rare spotlight on intra-Catholic theological discussions that the mainstream media tend to ignore otherwise, and so it's important to take advantage of these rare moments of media awareness to call foul on the entire process that shuts everyone but a group of powerful, aging, ordained, "celibate" males out of the governing and decision-making process in the Catholic church:

First, this is not about a pope but a process. We do not get a lot of windows of opportunity when the press is attentive to things theological. The issue is not a new pope, whether from a developing country or not. In fact, foisting a sinking ship on a person whose community has been marginalized is an old trick, and it does not work.  Rather, what is needed is a wholesale deconstruction of a hierarchal church and the reconstruction of a community that is based on radical equality.  
This is a mouthful in a sound bite era. But the important thing is to call foul on the process. When a few men vote without accountability to anyone and when power is centered at the top, the whole framework and process are wrong. If a pope can resign and his colleagues make up the rest as they go along, then a structure can be redesigned. Tradition has no claim on injustice.
Have I given the impression that I'm recommending this essay in its entirety to readers? I certainly am. 

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