May 18, 2010

The Cornerstone

The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. Psalms 118:22

I awoke with a gasp this morning. It has less than 24 hours since learning of the death of my dear friend Janine Denomme, but I was startled to hear her story on NPR as my alarm clock went off this morning. Since learning last week about our church's refusal to grant her a proper Mass of the Resurrection, due to her ordination into the Catholic priesthood last month — I have had to put my anger aside to grieve for my ailing friend, and to honor her wishes that her funeral not become a political rally. But now that the story is out there, I feel that it is okay to write about it in a public forum.

To be clear, I do not blame our parish priest at St. Gertrude. He has been clearly anguished by the decision of the hierarchy — the turning away from all the Christ asks of us, the refusal to show mercy or kindness to a dying woman who has been an exemplary Christian. Fr. Dom is a kind and loving priest, and my heart truly aches for him as well.

Our church buries criminals, pedophiles, all manner of sinners — and we count on God to do the judging. Unless you're a woman who has faced down the all-boys club. That simply cannot be tolerated! You must pay!

The sad part here is, there is really nothing they can do to "punish" Janine, because they cannot lay claim to the "church," only the walls that they own, and the male priest that they can order about. Janine will, in fact, have a Mass of the Resurrection. And it will, in fact, be full of her "church." Janine will remain a priest in the kingdom of God for eternity.

Janine was keenly aware of her choice — and all the possibilities and consequences of civil disobedience. It is activism like this — and sometimes it's painful consequences (for all of us) that brings about change. I admire Janine so much for her lifelong commitment and amazing bravery and courage in the face of such obstacles. As Archbishop Oscar Romero once said, "we are workers, not master builders. We are prophets of future not our own." Janine knew that change, particularly in a structure as archaic as our church, would come slowly — yet she persisted. Janine could not not be Catholic!

And here's the thing: We're not leaving Our Church! So listen up, Cardinal George! We'll be banging on you're door soon about this atrocity. Bishop Kane — don't think you're getting off the hook on this one — you're cruelty will not be forgotten or go unanswered by THIS Catholic girl! You've got some 'splainin to do! And after we lay our dear friend to rest, you can expect to be hearing from me and others. Count on it.

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