In the midst of all the awful church news, good news prevails. I’m not trying to sugar coat the horror of the on-going revelation of sexual abuse and the even more on-going revelation of church obfuscation and cover up. That is all pretty bad. Yet that is not all that church is – even if it seems that way.
The US Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) is currently meeting in Baltimore and something important and good happened – so I am sharing it here. Good things at a USCCB meeting ought not to be an “event” but… somehow it is. What is this great thing? Well Sister Thea Bowman’s cause for sainthood is finally taking a step forward! Thanks be to God! This is just the beginning, but at least this canonical consultation has the potential to make Sister Thea’s sainthood a reality.
If you are not familiar with Sister Thea, now of blessed memory, there is no shortage of information about her. Here is something that I wrote about her for another blog in 2012! Today I will add this talk that she gave to the USCCB in 1989. She is in a wheelchair and is suffering from the ravages of the cancer that would take her. That said, the cancer has taken none of her faith or joy. This video is 35 minutes long – and worth every minute of watching. Having seen it many times myself, I share it with you today.
Sister Thea addresses issues that haunt us today – racial inequality, economic inequality, social inequality… you see the common thread there. She talks about being black and Catholic, she addresses the importance of our role people called together to be church by our active participation in liturgy, she speaks of the past, the present, and the future. She speaks of the challenges of “mission mentality” that ends up being – at least I think – a huge component of clericalism that exists because of clerics. And because of lay people who do not understand or take their own role seriously.
The essence of this talk is not just about the church in general but most specifically about what it means to be black and Catholic. Has that changed at all? I am doubtful, in fact it might have gone backwards.
That future is now. What have we done? What would Sr. Thea think if she were here today? And would she get the bishops on their feet as she does at the end of this video? I really have to wonder about that…
In the meantime, may we pray and work together for Sister Thea Bowman’s sainthood cause!