A Living Sense of Brotherhood and Sisterhood

By: Cooper Michael  

These words from the Book of Genesis remind us that we are called to hold each other in sacred trust. Thus, a living sense of “Brotherhood and Sisterhood” stand as the religious and spiritual symbols of Hope and Promise. Yet many silos of religious deception, sexual abuse, individual and corporate greed, et cetera exist locally and globally. The cover-up of sexual abuse of children and young people not only by the American Catholic bishops in Pennsylvania but also by bishops worldwide stands as one of the most egregious and disheartening factors in destroying the bonds of trust. This paper will begin by exploring the dynamics of secrecy and of individual- and collective cover-up for the sake of protecting the Catholic Church at the cost of being Sister and Brother to vulnerable children. The needed spiritual and emotional healing and transformation for this and many other abuses can only come through a shared spirituality. We will first explore the dynamics of German theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher for facing threats and change by dealing with that underlying inferiority masking as superiority as well as by owning any latent fears. In addition, the discernment of spirits of Ignatius Loyola will help us sort through that path to Sisterhood and Brotherhood. By letting go of the false protections and the fear of something new as well as confronting any individual and collective self-serving attitudes and behaviors through discernment, we will be freed to embrace each other as Sisters and Brothers here and afar.

Healing, Discernment, Trust, Transformation, Sisterhood, Brotherhood, Hope, Spirituality, Fear, Change
2019 Special Focus—Universal Religious Symbols: Mutual Influences and Specific Relationships
Focused Discussion

Cooper Michael

Assistant Professor, Theology, Saint Leo University

I have been a professor of undergraduate and graduate theology, specialiing in Ignatian and Vatican II spirituality as well as undergraduate courses. I am involved in leadership positions in the College Theology Society, the Executive Committee of the University Senate and also of the Faculty Union. As a Jesuit priest, I balance and enhance my teaching by pastoral ministry such as saying Mass and preaching, doing some spiritual direction, and leading pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Rome, Ireland, France, the Camino of Santiago de Compostello, and France. I also say Mass and am the Spiritual Advisor for the Tampa Bay Gay and Lesbian Community. I am a faithful friend and I love my mini-daschund LuLu. I am very invested in social justice issues and spent time in jail in California while working with the Farmworkers.