Working on an article about Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur for New Moon Girls a few weeks ago had me reflecting on forgiveness, on the fact that, despite forgiveness being at the core of Catholic and Christian teaching, we don’t really have a holiday that centers on it. I found myself wondering what such a holiday would look like, and what its drawbacks would be (would people’s egos get so invested that they’d come to ‘expect’ to be begged forgiveness from those they felt had wronged them, and then hold an even stronger grudge if it didn’t come?)
And although I meant to find a way to explore this idea in more depth in this post, I was sidetracked by a recent article about the ordination of women on Time.com. The article itself was not the best piece I’ve read on women’s ordination, although it was nice to see a major news outlet covering it. What affected me more were the comments on the article — many of them so full of vitriol toward women and those who supported them, including a few that proclaimed priests who support women’s ordination will go to hell (don’t you love it when someone besides God gets to pick who goes to hell? How do you think you get that gig, anyway?)
As I continued to read the same old arguments left in the comments (Jesus was a man, the Church never gets anything wrong, ordination isn’t a right, etc.), I also felt the same old anger, resentment, sadness, and hurt building up inside me. And by the time I added my comment to the mix, I wasn’t really in the mood to forgive.
So forgiveness is the last thing I want to write about right now, but perhaps the first thing I need to write about. I’ve had varied success forgiving individuals who have hurt me; but this same old sickness that comes up around the topic of ordination of women reminds me that I haven’t completely forgiven the Church for barring the door and shutting Her own children out. I haven’t forgiven her for refusing to heed the Call many women hear to serve God; I haven’t forgiven her for refusing to bless the love of same-sex couples; and I haven’t forgiven her for likening prophetic women to pedophile priests.
I know that forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to excuse wrong behavior. I know it’s more a gift for the forgiver than the “forgivee.” But I feel like I know more about what forgiveness doesn’t mean than what it does. I don’t think I’ll ever accept official church doctrine on this issue. Knowing that, what would my forgiveness look like? I hope that one day I’m able to find out.