My Letter to the Pope

Dear Pope Benedict,

I write to you as a fellow Christian from the Anabaptist tradition who has numerous Roman Catholic friends and colleagues. I also write as a personal friend and admirer of Father Roy Bourgeois who I've known since 1983.

I strongly urge you and others in the Roman Catholic hierarchy to reconsider the threat made to Father Roy to excommunicate him because of his principled opposition to the continued second-class status of women in the church. I can't make a better argument for their full inclusion than Roy has already done so in his letter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on November 7. I can report to you my own personal observation: If Father Roy is excommunicated as threatened, many other faithful Catholics will join him in leaving the Church. (A close friend already left several months ago after she tired of the "abuse" she has felt from Church hierarchy.)

I write this out of love for the Body of Christ. While I have many differences with the Roman Catholic expression of that Body, (and, frankly don't know where I stand from your perspective after your confusing and condemning words reportedly said by you about other Christian denominations shortly after you were elected to your position as Bishop of Rome), it is crucial that Christians send out a message to the entire world that the embrace of Christ is for all- equally- and that there is no clear double-standard for women that many of us perceive in the practice of Islam in many cultures.

Only when women, created in God's image, are valued and treated equally with men in all respects by the Church will we experience the full power of the Spirit in our midst.

In sadness and Christian love,

Steve Clemens

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