My personal response to the Pope's visit.

I have been watching the Pope's visit to the United States much more than I thought I would.  I have been moved much more than I thought I would.  As such I have been trying to figure out why I have been moved to tears on several occasions.

I have been deeply critical of how much play the pope gets in my (Jesuit) workplace.  It drives me crazy.  Lately however, I have decided that I need to put down my ego and open myself to the possibility that there is something to learn from the Pope.

So first my history:

I did not choose to become Catholic because of Church leadership.

When I went to college the faculty were discussing and criticizing the mandate that Catholic University Theology faculty would ONLY teach Catholic Doctrine (or something like that?). They were of course NOT signing it.
My self understanding as woman was in contrast to JohnPaulII"s idealization.
Ratzinger's policing of liturgy and orthodoxy shaped my religious imagination and the theologians I read.
My master's studies took place in a city deeply wounded by sexual abuse.
I have had countless encounters of being treated like crap by priests.
I have had few counters of being treated like a valuable member of the church by the clergy.

Even earlier than that I can look back on my childhood and recall wanting to be an altar server and know that I couldn't because of my sex.
I recall as a 14 year old being pissed about not being able to have any voice in the liturgy.
I was  deeply frustrated that Catholic youth ministry was so so so dull.
I remember when JohnPaul II came to St. Louis and instead of getting any tickets I had to work at it to go- because all the tickets were given to Catholic schools.

And still...and still...I stayed Catholic...

 The history of social teaching, the richness of liturgy, the method of interpreting the Gospel, and the richness of diversity, my own family history, and my constantly discerned call to ministry have maintained my Catholic label for me!  The fact is I have been deeply distrustful of modern Catholic church leadership.

Every single encyclical I have read that was released in recent times I have read with skepticism.  I distrust anything that is written about women and families in particular.  Some of my ministry involves overt criticism of the modern teachings or the lack of revision for teachings.

So now, while this Pope visits the United States I am, for the first time, hearing a Church leader that I trust is trying, is kind, is focused on God, on Christ on the gospel. . . I trust that the voices of the voiceless matter to this man.  I cried today while he addressed Congress- because part of me- felt like I addressed Congress.  I teared up when my black president welcomed my church leader to the white house (both of whom would have been disdained by many president's before them) and I felt somehow represented by that church leader.

Do I have some serious criticism? YES!!!! Women are on a pedestal.  His models of living are not people who have family models that are helpful...He freaking canonized Junipero Serra... but being disgruntled...that i Have done...never before have I felt hopeful.

It's weird. For me. So weird. I am having to let down my ego and figure it out.  But as long as listening to him points me deeper into the love of God, deeper into the Gospel  then their is something there.


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