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Is the Pope Catholic?: A Woman Confronts Her Church

by Joanna Manning

Buy the book: Joanna Manning. Is the Pope Catholic?: A Woman Confronts Her Church

Release Date: 01 September, 2000

Edition: Paperback

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Buy the book: Joanna Manning. Is the Pope Catholic?: A Woman Confronts Her Church


Ignorance & Prejudice

This anti-Catholic screed is based on raw ignorance. The Catholic Church permits many other kinds of natural family planning than the rhythm method. The Pontifical Biblical commission never voted in favor of women's ordination. The anecdotal "incidents" cited by Manning are suspect. The alleged speakers (no documentation provided) all speak in Manning's distinctive voice.

Please be forewarned: Joanna Manning is an ex-Catholic who is a member of Catholics for a Free Choice and other anti-Catholic orgranizations.

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rigor and vitality

"The rigor and vitality of the best of the Catholic intellectual tradition had always attracted me," Joanna Manning writes in the opening chapter. She brings the same rigor to the problem of the self-contradiction at the heart of the contemporary Church, where human rights and dignity are maintained rhetorically, while women are accorded a separate-but-equal status which, as the author shows time and again, implies that women enjoy less than human rights while being subjected to de-humanizing conditions and restrictions, in marriage as well as in vocation.

In the same chapter she recounts the anguish of an African woman in the Cameroon explaining " 'You know how Africans love children, and we would never reject any of them. But we don't want to have so many. We want a better life for our children, but we can't even clothe and educate them. Yet we are desperate, because the Church tells us that we can only use the rhythm method. It doesn't work, but we don't know how to argue with the priests.'...I had spoken and written about the injustice, the lack of credibility, and the health risks which are the result of the Vatican's intransigent opposition to contraception. Never before had I heard such a direct statement of the pain of poor families, especially women, when faced with the autocracy of the Church. I knew then that my decision to defend women's rights wihtin the Church, whatever the cost, ahd been the right one...As a white Canadian woman, I do not have to face the struggle for survival, which is a daily reality for most women in two-thirds of the world. I have also enjoyed unique opportunities in my life to become theologically educated and literate in the language of the Church. I can read Latin, and I am in a position to 'argue with the priests.' But with this privilege comes the responsibility to struggle against injustice."

Some of the concrete examples of the tragedies and absurdities include the beatification of Elisabetta Canori Mora, who jeopardized her own life and her children's in what moral theology would recognize as an overscrupulous interpretation of the sacrament of marriage; a young Canadian student, also a lector, inspired by a social justice encyclical, whose parish pastor screamed that she was possessed for 'criticizing the Church' by suggesting that bequest money be used to start a homeless shelter; the fact that the Pontifical Biblical Commission, having studied the question of ordaining women at Paul VI's instruction, found that the New Testament could not of itself support the exclusion, and that the Commission supported women's ordination by a 12 to 5 vote.

Her love for the Church is evident, as is her strong disapproval of the abuse of reason to claim divine origin for irrational stereotypes imposed by clerical fiat under the guise of infallible authority. Grounding all is her argument that "to accommodate a theological position based on genitalia rather than one based on the Genesis account of male and female both made in the image of God, Pope John Paul II and those who aagree with him have been forced to distort othe doctrines of the Catholic Church. These include what theologians call christology, or teachings on the nature of Jesus; soteriology, which describes the work and redemptive mission of Jesus; the resurrection of Jesus; and ecclesiology, or the nature of the Church and in particular, the sacrament of baptism."

Perhaps her remaining faithful to the Church despite rampant clerical abuse will be seen as heroic as Elisabetta Canori Mora's.

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