Vugt: Men and women: Equal dignity in Church and society

THE German theologian Hans Kung writes in his book, “The early Church” with the following: The Church of the future must not be patriarchal, must not base itself on stereotype images of the woman with an exclusive male language and fixed roles for the generations, but a Church of partnership which connects together office and charisma and allows women into Church offices.

Of course, priests may have worked with sincere pastoral care. They may have done this with sincerity, with diligence, with the talents given to them. One may have been more talented than the other, more inspired also, more loved and respected. But for all of them these counts: they have been inspired by real spirituality in doing their pastoral work. Maybe not everybody with equal consciousness and outspokenness but for sure as an undercurrent of their life.

Of course, the life of priests has been colored by the spirit of the time, they were all children of their time like us, at one time the emphasis may have been more on the keeping of the commandments, laws and prescriptions. One period may have been characterized by devotions and church practices, which today we may have taken distance from.

When we talk about Carmelite spirituality, what do we mean by this? I want to formulate it today this way: Carmelites want through an attentive listening to the Holy Scriptures and their Rule, a respectful dealing with creation and with people, especially realizing that one does not elevate himself above the other (also not in a subtle way). Knowing that people in reality (these are not only words) are brothers and sisters of one another; women and men with equal dignity. This brings me to a Bible reading that reads: Some Pharisees came and put him to the test with the question, “Is it right for the husband to divorce his wife?”

He replied: “What law did Moses give you”? They answered, “Moses allowed us to write a certificate of dismissal in order to divorce.” Then Jesus said to them, “Moses wrote this law for you, because you are stubborn.” But in the beginning of creation God made them male and female, and because of this, man has to leave his father and mother and joins with his wife and the two shall become one body. So they are no longer two, but one body.

Therefore let no one separate what God has joined. People were bringing the little children to him to have him touch them, and the disciples rebuked them for this. When Jesus noticed this he was very angry and said, “Let the children come to me and don’t stop them for the Kingdom of God belongs to such of these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter the Kingdom. Then he took the children in his arms and laying his hands on them blessed them. Jesus lived also out of this knowledge. I cannot explain in a different way his words in the Gospel. More than about a separation within the marital relationship we are dealing here with a separation that Jesus rejected absolutely in the sense of inequality between men and women.

No man has the right to feel himself above the other, the autochthon not above the stranger, the rich not above the poor, the men not above the women. We all know how difficult it is to accept this. In politics this is seen in our own life and therefore also in the Church. Especially in the Church we experience with pain the sometimes increasing inequality between women and men.

I am deeply convinced that we have a future only when we let ourselves be inspired by the Scriptures and therefore all that separates must be put aside. We must also grow away from a knowledge that we have exclusively the faith and that others must adjust themselves to us. Hans Kung writes: “The Church must reject the arrogance of the office. She must become an ecumenical Church, which means recognizing the office of their communities, the abolition of all excommunicating and a total exclusive community. We must try to learn from other religions.”

I know that we have at the moment a Pope who thinks differently and invites us to start looking at what really counts in the Church of Jesus. No quarreling about laws and observation of laws and regulations. The message of the Gospel is liberating and people should let themselves be inspired by this. The poor, the small ones, the sick, the stranger and the rejected must be respected.

In our PN Roa Subdivision people put up a wall between our subdivision and the relocation area. In our subdivision here live people who are mostly well-to-do and in the relocation area live people who mostly are poor and considered nobodies. We people in the Church should protest against this kind of behavior.



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