January 1999





from the Los Angeles Lay Catholic Mission

"LEAD WITH THE EYES OF WISDOM" is the theme for the 1999 Archdiocese of Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, to be held February 12-14. According to the archdiocese's explanation, the theme "beckons us to the wisdom tradition of the Hebrew Scriptures. The Book of Proverbs exhorts one who would seek wisdom to seek 'the way of insight.' The Book of Job speaks of pursuing the way of light. The Jewish wisdom tradition speaks of wisdom not only as a path or a way of life, but also as the manifestation of God-- God's very creative presence in the world. ... Divine wisdom, the very creative power of God pervading the whole of reality, is localized in the person of Jesus Christ, who is 'the Way.' Our ministry calls us to lead with eyes of wisdom. In trusting our own wisdom, we embrace the source of all wisdom that is present and active within, even as we acknowledge the greater wisdom beyond the boundaries of our being.... Each day God invites us to draw from the deep wisdom within us and the wide wisdom beyond us. This calls us to claim our own power and wisdom, and it means listening to the still small voice, the whisper that can easily be lost in the whirlwind of busyness."

To assist conference attendees to seek wisdom, Sister Edith Prendergast, Director of Religious Education for the archdiocese, has invited speakers who will address such subjects as parish leadership, Celtic spirituality, Christian spirituality, catechesis, liturgy, and justice. Among these speakers is Robert Ludwig, Sister Barbara Fiand, and Diana Hayes, all public dissenters from Church teaching. Ludwig will address "the Catholic Future: A New Generation. A New Millennium," and "The Jesus Path-- What Happened Then, What It Means Today." According to Donna Steichen, author of Ungodly Rage, Ludwig is a frequent speaker at Call To Action events and a promoter of "small faith communities" within parishes. Call to Action publicly dissents from Church teachings on birth control, ordination of women and homosexuality.

Barbara Fiand will address "Prayer Energy and Cosmic Transformation," and "Feminist Theology: A New Way of Seeing. A New Way of Being." Last September, Fiand was removed from teaching at Mount Saint Mary's of the West, the seminary division of the Athenaeum of Ohio, reportedly for not supporting vocations to the priesthood in the climate of today's church, a charge which she denies. According to the May/June 1998 Saint Catherine's Review, in her 1987 book Releasement (a book she has used for ten years as a text in her courses), Fiand wrote that the "stubborn resistance to the ordination of women which uses nothing less than Scripture and tradition (misinterpreted though they may be) to justify itself, is probably the clearest example of the repressed feminine turned sour." Elsewhere in Releasement she wrote, "[w]hen women in our churches will be allowed to do what men have been doing for centuries, justice will have been served without a doubt." Barbara Fiand also addressed last year's Religious Education Congress.

Diana Hayes is also a frequent congress speaker. A professor of theology at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Hayes, like Ludwig, has addressed Call to Action Audiences, and in November 1996, addressed the Women's Ordination Conference in Arlington, Virginia. As reported in the February 1996 Mission, Hayes shared the podium at this 1996 conference with Dr. Elizabeth Schussler-Fiorenza, who proclaimed "we have come together to say, 'Ordination means sub-ordination... We claim today our spiritual power not for becoming incorporated into the lowest ranks of the kyriarchal hierarchy... but for subverting the dehumanizing kyriarchal structures." Hayes herself, in her address, stated that "to ordain women into the Christian church as it is presently constituted is to make them a part of an oppressive structure which abuses and distorts its power and authority. It is making them tools of the Master... Recalling the prophetic words fo the late Audre Lord, I quote, 'The Master's tools will never dismantle the master's house'... Dismantling of the entire structure is needed, from within and from without, using tools of our own creation."

Father Michael Crosby, who will also address the Religious Education Congress this year, is associated with Call to Action.


Copyright 1999  The Los Angeles Lay Catholic Mission