From the Director’s Desk…
Synod Outline Refreshingly Accessible
Dear FutureChurch friends:
On April 27, the Vatican published its outline or “lineamenta” for the 2008 Synod on the Word. In happy contrast to the outline for the 2005 Synod on the Eucharist, this document is succinct, theologically accessible and more oriented toward respecting the experiences of the People of God in the 21st century. Dioceses are asked to respond to the outline by November 4, 2007. (Full text available on the FutureChurch website as well as the Vatican website).
The outline explicitly acknowledges theological premises that seemed to have fallen out of favor under John Paul II, including the reality of ongoing revelation, the development of doctrine and an urgent need to read “the signs of the times.” It also shows a refreshing attention to justice, peace and nonviolence; intercultural and interreligious dialogue; the need to engage secular culture, and respect for contemporary anthropology and “research in the science of language” if the Word of God is to be fruitful in our times.
Some worrisome phrases do appear such as: “[it is] the duty of exegetes and theologians to study and explain Scriptures according to the mind of the Church”(italics in original). This hearkens back to the dark ages of Catholic biblical scholarship when the main function of scholars was to find proof texts for what Church “tradition” already taught.
Surprisingly, the inevitable male-only language is somewhat muted. “Humankind” and “people” replace “mankind” and “men” usually so prevalent in Vatican publications.
While the example of the Virgin Mary as a model for believers who internalize and give birth to the Word is lovely, it does little to address the invisibility of women in lectionary texts and preaching. Such invisibility is a serious obstacle to the ability of 21st century women and men to fully appropriate the Word of God in the context of contemporary anthropology and culture.
FutureChurch hopes to address these crucial issues with our Women and The Word: Synod 2008 campaign to put women back in the biblical picture.
If you haven’t already, please go to the FutureChurch website today and send your electronic postcard to make sure women biblical scholars are represented at the synod
and to expand preaching and proclamation opportunities for women in the Church!
Peace and blessings,
Sr. Chris Schenk CSJ, Executive Director