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Tag Archives: Pr Semmler

Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy, Man Booker Prize winner, shares her wisdom on those without a voice.  We in the LCA, make connections to how women are silenced or unheard in our Church.

Some people will insist that women are not voiceless in the LCA and will point to the exceptions – perhaps to Linda MacQueen, the Editor of The Lutheran, perhaps to Helen Lockwood, the Director of Lutheran Community Care or perhaps to women principals in our school system.  However, it will be instructive to talk to such women for their assessment of women’s place in the Church.

While the secular world is discovering gender equality, the LCA resists such notions and unwittingly makes itself, on a daily basis, more and more disconnected from Australian women and men (who are increasingly seeing through the duplicitous policy on women and men in our Church).

General Synod approaches.  Despite Pr Semmler resigning from the Presidency, he will chair General Synod and will attempt to stamp his influence on the Church until the following General Synod in 2016.  Change will only come when there are sufficient votes on Synod floor.  Attaining a 66% vote is an enormous task and every vote is important.

Are you able to be a part of rising hope in the LCA?

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2013 in politics, women's ordination

 

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Editorial: Ordination of women would correct an injustice | National Catholic Reporter

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Breaking news! In a historic move, the National Catholic Reporter announced its public endorsement of women’s ordination! Please take a moment to thank NCR staff for being a prophetic voice & standing with the majority of Catholics who believe women should be ordained as priests! Women’s Ordination Conference Facebook page

This is quite a day.  National Catholic Reporter (NCR) in the U.S., while having supported women’s ordination for a while, has now publicly endorsed women’s ordination.  It makes its stance quite clear.

The call to the priesthood is a gift from God. It is rooted in baptism and is called forth and affirmed by the community because it is authentic and evident in the person as a charism. Catholic women who have discerned a call to the priesthood and have had that call affirmed by the community should be ordained in the Roman Catholic church. Barring women from ordination to the priesthood is an injustice that cannot be allowed to stand. Editorial: Ordination of women would correct an injustice | National Catholic Reporter.

NCR’s public stance appears to be precipitated by a Nov. 19 press release from the Vatican of Roy Bourgeois‘ “excommunication, dismissal and laicization” “from the Maryknoll order following his participation in the ordination of Roman Catholic Womanpriest Janice Sevre-Duszynska in August 2008.” ref

The similarities with the LCA are interesting.
1.

In April 1976 the Pontifical Biblical Commission concluded unanimously: “It does not seem that the New Testament by itself alone will permit us to settle in a clear way and once and for all the problem of the possible accession of women to the presbyterate.” In further deliberation, the commission voted 12-5 in favor of the view that Scripture alone does not exclude the ordination of women, and 12-5 in favor of the view that the church could ordain women to the priesthood without going against Christ’s original intentions.

… while the LCA’s CTICR voted with a 2/3 majority in 200o and 2006 with similar wording.

2. After the 1976 Pontifical Biblical Commission the current and previous Pope and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith upped the ante, ignored the statement and declared the exclusion of women from the priesthood as, first, “irreformable” and then as belonging “to the deposit of the faith.”  This association with being “founded on the word of God” was trying to “stop all discussion”.

In the LCA, Pr Semmler ignores the CTICR recommendations of 2000 and 2006 and has decreed that public discussion on women’s ordination should stop because it doesn’t uphold the current position of the Church.

3. Benedict and John Paul both decreed that women cannot be ordained, despite the 1976 statement from the Pontifical Biblical Commission but laity of the Catholic Church support it.

Pr Semmler, Pr Greg Lockwood, Pr John Kleinig, Pr Andrew Pfeiffer state that women cannot be ordained, while laity are in favour.

Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Standing before the forces of power in Alabama

“They told us we wouldn’t get here, there were those who said we would only get here over their dead bodies. All the world today knows that we are here and we are standing before the forces of power in Alabama saying ‘We ain’t gonna let nobody turn us around!’” – Martin Luther King Jr, Selma to Montgomery, March 1965.

I will never know the names of the people who marched from Selma to Montgomery with Dr King and chances are you won’t either.  Nor are you likely to know the names of the people who walked with Gandhi on the Salt March, yet our history and imaginations are caught by the thought of hundreds of ordinary people going to (and walking for) extraordinary lengths to fight for justice.  No matter what came, nothing would move these people, and nobody could turn them around.  Reference

We lose track of how difficult it is to bring about  change.  People understood that civil rights may actually cost them their lives.

Gordon Gibson knew the civil rights movement in the 1960s was serious when a friend said not to leave for Selma unless it was more important for him to go than it was to come back.

“I decided it was more important to go to Alabama, and we wrote our wills,” Gibson said.

He was 26 years old.  Reference

Australia had it’s own Freedom Ride in 1965.  It exposed endemic racism in rural Australia and “punctured Australian smugness, borne of ignorance, that racism did not exist in Australia.” (ref)  While the move towards the 1967 referendum on Aboriginal equality had started shortly after Federation  in 1901, the Freedom Ride must have helped people understand that racism was entrenched, not just in country towns of NSW, but in the Australian Constitution as well.  There was resistance over decades, much of it vitriolic, and some resistance continues today for racism cannot be legislated away.

Change doesn’t come easily, for it threatens some people’s way of being.  It is difficult for some to imagine how they will function under the innovation and so it becomes important to resist, despite understanding why it is important for many.  That resistance is justified by a lifetime of living in a different paradigm.  “It is my experience, don’t take it from me!” When change does come, the new reality is rarely as confronting as was expected.

The road towards women’s ordination has been difficult.  Through hope and despair starting in the 1990s, and now through a growing voice protesting the silencing of debate on women’s ordination, there is an ever-increasing hope that the LCA will yet see women’s ordination.

The difference between civil rights and women’s ordination in the LCA is that while both the US and Australia are democracies and function under freedom of the press, the LCA on this matter, does not.  While Pr Semmler communicates freely with membership when he wishes, the women’s ordination movement cannot even pay for an advertisement in the national magazine.  Repressive regimes use this tactic throughout the world to maintain control on power through controlling communication and the national discussion. As this contravenes the LCA Constitution Pr Semmler needs to be censured.

 

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Pr Semmler speaks

Clergy will have received the latest letter from Pr Semmler.  Included in his letter are eight paragraphs about the process towards women’s ordination.

So we are quite clear and that there are no false expectations on the matter of both women and men, …

Isn’t General Synod meant to be the regular time when the Church comes together to discuss and reconsider matters of importance?  If the Chair of Synod already has decided various matters, shouldn’t a point of order be announced and the Chair be reminded of due process?

… synod will hear from the ‘newer voices’ of the study group to look at the issue as called for by the Church at the 2009 Convention.

Actually, Synod 2009 called for a process of consensus to be initiated. Nominating five male clergy to discuss the matter does not fulfil synod’s expressed intention to initiate a consensus process.   Here is an explanation of consensus from Wikipedia.

The teaching of our Church with relevant texts is set out in the document Theses of Agreement Section A, VI Thesis of the Ministry paragraph 11.

Any discussion on this matter at any level in the Church is bound to address this matter on the basis of the Scriptures.  We acknowledge the Scriptures as “the divinely inspired, written and inerrant Word of God, and as the only infallible source and norm for all matters of faith, doctrine and life’ (Article II, LCA Constitution).

Dr Jeff Silcock (ALC Associate Dean [Research] and chair of CTICR) reflects on this type of language: “At the beginning of the CTICR’s deliberations (approx mid 1980’s) it was decided that any decision by the church would be taken solely on the basis of scripture and theology. Looking back, perhaps this was a bit naive. How can you grapple with scripture and theology without taking into account the experiences of people and of culture?  You can’t abstract cultural, experiential and hermeneutical issues from the texts.  These things play a part in determining the position we adopt – at least initially. ”

Dr Silcock concluded by suggesting that, in view of the difficulty and uncertainyy of the key passages used to prevent women from being ordained, the LCA should, at the very least, change the status of the prohibition against the ordination of women from doctrine (Theses of Agreement)  to opinion.

The word ‘inerrant’ cannot be found in The Confessions and the word ‘infallible’ cannot be attached to The Confessions.  We need more scholarly tools than simply reading Scripture.  However, the use of such language carries significant influence at synod, and it is understandable why Pr Semmler would wish to use its emotional leverage.

The current teaching must be clearly understood by all before any judgement can be responsibly made on a presentation which may claim to disagree with the present stand.  There is no alternative but to address the issue on Scripture and to earnestly hear what God has to say about his gift of this office to the Church.

Isn’t it strange, therefore, that Pr Semmler has ignored the Church’s theological reference body, the CTICR, which, after years of study and discussion, twice came to majority findings that there is no theological impediment to the ordination of women?

The question is ‘How are we listening to Scripture?’ That was the theme for a symposium convened at Tanunda in 2011, generously sponsored by the LLL with presentations by theologians from across the Lutheran World which still awaits addressing by our own Church.

Be assured we continue to have a teaching in the LCA which is practised at this time.  To question our understandings can be a positive way of strengthening ourselves for the future.

Pr Semmler wants to console Lutherans that there is unity of teaching and doctrine in the LCA.  Despite his best of intentions, there is no unity within the LCA, but this should not be a cause of concern in our multi-cultural society.  We are already a Church of great diversity but we are larger than our differences.

Teachings such as this are not decided on a populist vote or by the culture or by lobbying or by feelings or ‘inner calls’.  Only the Scriptures are inspired.  The lack of clarity in hearing scripture is from us the hearers of God’s Word.

Does this sound like a Chairperson who is dedicated to facilitating the will of the people? We are long past the time when we need to be told that the answers will be found in Scripture. The truth is that the Scriptures say nothing definitive about women’s ordination.  The continued parroting of such pieties should be seen as ideological framing designed to invoke the pieties of others and a “strict father model” of the church. (Such framing has been studied in depth by George Laker and the Rockridge Institute.  Read free .pdf version of “Thinking Points” here. )

The process requires the Church (usually the Commission on Theology or another appointed group) to present a position/study to the General Pastors Conference (and usually also through District Pastors Conferences) to give guidance to the synod (1/3 pastors and 2/3 lay delegates) before any such decision is put to the vote.

We don’t mind the fact that Pr Semmler is opposed to women’s ordination.  That is an opinion that each of us have the right to hold.  We don’t pretend that it is possible or desirable to have complete consensus on all things theological.  We are not even opposed to Pr Semmler maintaining the deception that he is an independent arbiter on the matter. We are opposed however to his obfuscation of issues pertinent to women’s ordination and the declaration that women’s ordination will not happen ‘on (his) shift’.  This is an abuse of the trust that synod has endowed him with, which has ramifications across the whole LCA, and which will be played out in coming years, long after he has left the Presidency.

 

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