Saturday, September 26, 2015


It's the Apostle, Matthew (7:5) who reports these words of Jesus in the New Testament: "first cast out the beam out of thine own eye..."

I listened, mostly with admiration and agreement, to Pope Francis's address to the United Nations yesterday. I liked his words on the baneful effects of "exclusion." To them, I'd add the notion of "marginalization." I guess that's near-exclusion.

Sadly though--and I'm sure along with many others listening to his remarks--I could not help but recall the exclusionary policy of his own church: the exclusion of women.

Why do so many religions cling to the male-centered traditions of many centuries? Even some branches of the Buddhism I so much admire, and whose teachings I seek to follow, persist in this ancient practice; likewise Roman Catholicism, Islam and others...

Is it out of fear that men must so fiercely protect the territory they have held for so long? Even men of, ahem, enlightenment? To my mind, it does no credit to their beliefs and protestations of goodwill.

I understand that the Pope is bound to some extent by the politics and inheritance of his office. He cannot change everything, as they say, overnight.  He has made gestures,: he has worked to remove the shadow cast by his predecessors over those American nuns who strive so ardently for social justice. I heard it said that he told the nuns, in the course of his present tour: I love you.

Still, there remains a beam in the eye of one who urges others to address the negative effects of exclusion. I am in no position to preach, for God's sake, to the Pope! But I feel compelled to point out this glaring contradiction.

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