Saint Bonaventure and Women

saint bonaventureJuly 15th was the feast day of Saint Bonaventure. A supreme intellect, Saint Bonaventure is known for his leading the Franciscan order of minors and helping to fostering the marriage of faith and reason through his teachings and works. He took the name Bonaventure to celebrate and honor his ‘Good fortune’ of being a Franciscan.

“I confess before God that what made me love Saint Francis’ way of life so much was that it is exactly like the origin and the perfection of the Church itself, which began first with simple fishermen and afterward developed to include the most illustrious and learned doctors. You find the same thing in the Order of Saint Francis; in this way God reveals that it did not come about through human calculations but through Christ.“

He was Franciscan, and like his founder, St. Francis, he was passionate in his zeal for Ecumenism, the unity of Christians, as well as interreligious dialogue.

saint bonaventureIn 1274, Bonaventure attended the Second Ecumenical Council of Lyons, which was convened by Pope Gregory X with the primary aim of reunifying with the Greek Orthodox Church and removing the schism of east and west. Unification would be defining theme in Bonaventure’s life.

While on the topic of unity, let’s fast-forward 740 years (yes, Churches move slowly).

On July 14th, 2014 , the General Synod of the Church of England voted to authorize the ordination of women as bishops. Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury affirmed with these “approved motions to pledge to respect and work with people who believe that, theologically, the vote was a mistake.” (read more here)

saint bonaventureBefore the vote, Archbishop Welby, spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, told the synod that “to pass this legislation is to commit ourselves to an adventure in faith and hope. Like all adventures, it carries dangers … uncertainties and for success will require integrity and courage.”

In a statement by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the Catholic Church states: “Such a decision means a break from the apostolic tradition maintained by all the churches of the first millennium and is, therefore, a further obstacle for reconciliation between the Catholic Church and the Church of England.”

saint bonaventure
New York, NY, September 30, 2001 — A Chaplain is on hand at Ground Zero. Photo by Andrea Booher/ FEMA News Photo

Saint Bonaventure, whose very name “Good fortune” has within it the word adventure. Archbishop Welby of the Anglican Communion recognizes that adventures in faith carry danger. Can we open the doors of this adventurous dialogue of the future clerical role in the Church as we walk toward unity? Something tells me Bonaventure would be up for it.

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