Perhaps it’s odd that I’m about to make a post on a Pagan blog using some videos about the Catholic church. Then again, considering my firsts posts here discussed my work as an interfaith activist, perhaps not.
Two topics about the Catholic church crossed my radar this week. The first is from the PBS show Religion & Ethics Newsweekly which had a segment this week discussing the priestly ordination of women. I haven’t been able to figure out how to embed that video here, but you can watch the nine minute segment from the latter link above; a transcript is also provided.
If you don’t have a moment to watch the whole thing, here’s what I think is the most important excerpt. Saul Gonzalez is the PBS correspondent performing the interview. He is speaking with Jane Via, a Catholic woman priest in San Diego, CA:
GONZALEZ: What do you say to those who would say join another community of faith, join another faith, become something else, but don’t stay in the Catholic Church with your views. You would say what?
VIA: For me to just turn my back on this institution and say, “You’re all a bunch of worthless idiots, and I’m not participating anymore. I’m going to do my own thing. I’m going to go be Episcopalian and I can be a priest there” is completely irresponsible. This is my community. If everyone who is progressive-minded, progressive thinking, and willing to stand up to the Vatican leaves the church, the church will never change.
GONZALEZ: Yet despite the hardening position of the church against their movement and its ordinations, the women Catholic priests say they aren’t retreating. They say they believe that although they might not see it in their own lifetimes, women will one day be allowed to become Roman Catholic priests—and with the support and blessings of the Vatican.
This next thing I can embed. The New Normal, is a sitcom on NBC. In it, a gay couple works with a surrogate to give birth to their first child. In their seventh episode, “The Godparent Trap,” the following scene plays out as Brian, one of the soon-to-be fathers, returns to the church for the first time in many years:
While I understand that, as a sitcom, a priest of the type in the video above may not be easily found, but the sentiment of working from with in a community to change the institutions thereof is powerful regardless of the fictional medium in which it was delivered. Incidentally, I personally recommend the show; I’m enjoying it not only for its comedy but also for the moments soul-searching that it asks of us as the protagonists confront their world.
In both of these examples, we see people who feel strongly about something–in these specific cases their Catholic identity–but who also seek to change the realities of that identity. Some institutions might change more easily or less so, but the call to action is the same nevertheless.
Change is hard. We know this or we wouldn’t resist it so much. But, change is also necessary and it’ll happen whether we want it to or not. The best we can hope for, it seems to me, is to direct the change toward that which seems best to us at the time.
When you see the need for change–whether it be in your personal life, your religious identity, your career, or something else–don’t let others dictate your direction. Your voice, your will, is one of the most powerful tools you have at your disposal. Use it, don’t retreat in the face of opposition, but stand firm and stand up for what you see as righteous and true. Easier said than done, sure; but I think it’s easier to do than we sometimes think it will be.
There are numerous problems facing us these days. Whether it’s climate change, economic concerns, or the more simple day-to-day problems of too little time and too much work, all of us have our struggles and to acquiesce may seem more attractive than another argument. I’d love to think that we can all stand up for everything that we believe in, but it’s far more likely that these days we have to pick our battles.
When you do so, pick the ones that need to be fought. Not just the easiest to win, not just the ones in which you have the most or the staunchest allies, but the ones that you find to be the most necessary.
To conclude, I leave you with these words, often quoted, attributed to Margaret Mead:
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed [people] can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.