Can Forum possibly contain two Catholic prophets?
It is beyond felicity, synchronicity or sheer good fortune and it’s no joke that it is occurring on April Fool’s Day. But it is happening. A Catholic embarrassment of riches to be sure.
Quite possibly the two greatest prophetic voices in contemporary catholicism are joiningi forces at Forum this year.
Forum is the brainchild of the Liverpool born Catholic John Quinn who has never stopped believing that the catholic church should be be what it promised 50 years ago at Vatican ll, “ecclesia semper reformanda”, a church which always need to update itself.
And so Diarmuid Omurchu and Sister Joan Chittister are coming this year. Omurchu is the Irish-born social scientist member of the Sacred Heart Missionary Order whose books have kept alive the progressive spirit of Vatican ll during the ice age of Catholicism under John Paul ll and Benedict XVl. This quote gives you a flavor of Omurchu’s candid assessment of this moment in ecclesial history.
We have come a long way from the fiery prophetic figure Jesus of Nazareth who shocked and disturbed the conventions of his day in the name of justice and liberation. Our respectability has taken a terrible toll on the authentic calling of Christian life.We have lost sight of the deeper vision and lost heart for the passion and enthusiasm of God’s New Reign. The following of Jesus is not a respectable religion.
Sr Joan Chittister is the brilliant Benedictine nun whose faith-filled writings reflect the Magdalene moment in the Catholic Church. We have moved beyond the Petrine moment and even that of Paul. It is time to listen to the Magdalene moment, the feminist voice which includes the ecological, prophetic and sacramental.
In 2001, the Vatican forbade Chittister to speak on discipleship at a women’s ordination conference in Ireland. Supported by her Prioress and Benedictine community Chittister spoke anyway and the Vatican backed down on its threats.
“You cannot order Catholics not to think,” she said in an interview recalling that confrontation with church authority. “I remember thinking then, ‘You can’t scare me.’”
For Chittister, the role of women raises “theological, scientific, sociological and human questions that you cannot stop thinking about. You have to open the door to the conversation in the name of the integrity of your theology.”
The Canadian Forum on Theology and Education April 1 and 2 (http://www.cfotae.ca/AboutCFOTAE.html) has the privilege of hosting Chittister and O’Murchu working publicly together for the first time when they present Evolution and the Spiritual Life: Exploring changing images of God and the Implications for daily life and spirituality at St. Joseph’s Ukrainian Catholic Conference Centre, 300 River Oaks Blvd. East, Oakville, Ontario, L6H5T1