Thursday, December 5, 2019

Sr. Carmel McEnroy, author who captured women's role in Vatican II, dies Dec 3, 2019 by Sarah Mac Donald, Tribute to Sister Carmel McEnroy from Janice Sevre Duszynska ARCWP

Carmel doctorate (2).jpg

Carmel McEnroy at her 1984 Ph.D. convocation ceremony at the University of Toronto. McEnroy received a master's degree and a doctorate from the University of St. Michael's College, Toronto School of Theology. (Brian Smith)
Mercy Sr. Carmel McEnroy, author of a groundbreaking work on the role of women in the Second Vatican Council, has died at age 83 in Galway City, Ireland, after a long illness. 

Responding to the news, Sr. Doreen Whitney of the Sisters of Mercy in the U.S. said McEnroy, who passed away Dec. 3, would be greatly missed by family, sisters, former colleagues, associates and many others throughout the world.
Following a diagnosis of terminal cancer earlier this year, McEnroy had been receiving care from the Sisters of Mercy in Ireland, though she spent most of her working life in the U.S.
When a comprehensive history of women and the Catholic Church in the 20th century is written, the name of Sr. Carmel McEnroy will loom large. She penned the most insightful account to date of the 23 women auditors who participated in Vatican II. Guests in Their Own House: The Women of Vatican II was published in 1996 and the following year (1997) won the Catholic Book Award for History/Biography.
In an article published on the Mercy Sisters' website in January 2013, McEnroy related how within 20 years of the closing of Vatican II, the fact that there were women at the council was already becoming a forgotten memory. She wrote: "This exclusion motivated me to recover the dangerous memory of the female auditors before it was irretrievably lost."
In his foreword to her book, German theologian, Redemptorist Fr. Bernard Häring, who was a theological advisor and consultant to the council, wrote, "I consider McEnroy's book both important and necessary. As far as I can see, up to now very little is said by historians of the council about the absence and presence of women in Vatican Council II. I dare to foretell that the present book will find great interest for a long time."
Though McEnroy will be best remembered for her book on Vatican II, she will also be remembered for the treatment she received from St. Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology, in St. Meinrad, Indiana. A distinguished theologian, she taught systematic theology there for 14 years and was tenured in 1992.
However, St. Meinrad fired McEnroy from her position as a professor in 1995 after she signed an open letter to Pope John Paul II and the U.S. bishops, along with about 2,000 others, asking that the discussion of women's ordination be allowed to continue. The letter, which was written in response to John Paul II's Ordinatio Sacerdotalis of May 1994, which sought to close the debate on women priests definitively, was published in the Nov. 4, 1994, issue of the National Catholic Reporter.
The treatment of McEnroy by St. Meinrad raised uncomfortable questions about the academic freedom of Catholic theologians and the denial of academic due process. In her autobiographical notes in the postscript of her book on women and Vatican II, she recalled how she was fired from her teaching position "with less than two weeks' notice, no due process, and the insulting offer of half a year's already meagre salary. All of this was in clear violation of the terms of my contract, the procedures spelled out in the Faculty Handbook, and the school's endorsement of the American Association of University Professor's Statement on Academic Freedom."
The charge brought against McEnroy was public dissent from magisterial teaching in regard to women's ordination. The open letter she signed had been organized by the Women's Ordination Conference. McEnroy contended that she was acting as a private citizen and that she signed it, "in accordance with my rights as a citizen and private person (guaranteed by my contract)." She did not indicate her professional affiliation with St. Meinrad School of Theology, nor did she use the initials of the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy.
Putting her name to the letter, even in a private capacity, was construed by St. Meinrad as dissent. On April 26, 1995, McEnroy received a letter from Archabbot Fr. Timothy Sweeney stating that he was asking the president-rector of St. Meinrad, Fr. Eugene Hensell, to terminate her contract because signing the open letter had made her "seriously deficient" in her duty. This was despite consistent commendation of her work in previous years. May 9, 1995, was her last teaching day at the college.
St. Meinrad was undergoing a visitation by a team on behalf of the U.S. bishops' conference. The first rumor McEnroy had heard about her possible dismissal was on March 6, 1995, when the chair of the visitation team, Archbishop Elden Curtiss of Omaha, according to McEnroy, "made it known publicly to students that he was there to carry out Archbishop Daniel Buechlein's wishes with regard to feminism, including firing me, and homosexuality." McEnroy said the "precipitous unilateral action" against her evidenced her accusers' "ignorance of the nuanced understanding of 'dissent,' which clearly distinguishes honest differences from those that are hostile and obstinate."
St. Meinrad's administrators, she explained, "totally ignored" letters from the Leadership Team of the Mercy congregation at the central, provincial, local and individual level, as well as from other religious congregations and groups at academic institutions, who tried to initiate discussion before her position was terminated.
On May 10, 1995, Sr. Bridget Clare McKeever, a Sister of St. Louis and a tenured professor at St. Meinrad, submitted her letter of resignation, stating that the termination of Sister Carmel's tenured contract without due process was "a breach of faith not only with Dr. McEnroy, but also with the entire faculty. Regardless of how these actions are rationalized, they are unjustified and unjust."
Then the largest professional society of theologians in the world, the Catholic Theological Society of America, overwhelmingly endorsed a statement and two resolutions in McEnroy's favor at its 1995 meeting, calling for her reinstatement and questioning the charge of dissent. McEnroy took a civil action against St. Meinrad. But in June 1999 the Court of Appeals of Indiana ruled in favor of the seminary's argument that resolution of the action would "excessively entangle the court in religious matters in violation of the First Amendment." The American Association of University Professors in 1997 censured St Meinrad School of Theology for violating McEnroy's academic freedom.
Speaking to Global Sisters Report about McEnroy, Mary Hunt, feminist theologian, described the Mercy Sister as a canary in the Catholic coal mine. "She was a sign to other Catholic women scholars that there is no recourse from the power of a patriarchal church to crush its opposition."

From left to right: Sr. Fidelma Heeran, Sr. Frances Lalor, Sr. Carmel McEnroy, and Sr. Doreen Whitney, pictured in a photo taken July 27, 2018, in Dublin, at a reunion of Mercy Sisters who worked in the U.S. over the years. (Courtesy of Doreen Whitney)
"Her book, Guests in Their Own House: The Women of Vatican II, brought the 23 women auditors at the council to public attention," Hunt said. "It was a necessary if embarrassing reminder that none of them were able to vote at the meeting despite their influence around the edges. Little has changed since then as women are still non-voting auditors at Catholic synods."
McEnroy, according to Hunt, paid the price at St. Meinrad for her honesty and persistence. "That seminary, like many others, still has only a miniscule percentage of women on the faculty. Yet her book remains a classic in the field, a gift to a church that did not want to read what she had to say but could not deny the truth of her message."
According to background information from the Sisters of Mercy, Margaret Carmel Elizabeth McEnroy was born May 15, 1936, in Carrickmakeegan, Ballinamore, County Leitrim, Ireland. She was the third of seven children of Bernard and Agnes (Fee) McEnroy.
According to the Sisters of Mercy, she attended Mercy Secondary School in Ballymahon, County Longford, where she excelled in her studies. She entered the Sisters of Mercy as a postulant in 1955 and made her final profession in 1961. She volunteered for the U.S. mission that year and was sent to the Jefferson City, Missouri, Diocese, where she taught and was principal of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School in Columbia, Missouri, for many years.
She received a bachelor of arts degree in 1967 from Marillac College in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1976 she received a master's degree from the University of St. Michael's College, Toronto School of Theology and a doctorate from there in 1984.
After she was fired by St. Meinrad, she worked for a while as a visiting Lilly Professor at the Berea College and as an adjunct professor at the Lexington Theological Seminary, both Protestant educational institutions in Kentucky.
McEnroy was "a staunch advocate for justice and women's rights and was direct in expressing her truth with complete honesty throughout her life," said Sr. Doreen Whitney of the Sisters of Mercy, who had known Sister Carmel for many years. "She continued to be involved with current concerns, and often took brave steps to speak out on unjust systems, even at her own expense."
"Apart from her sharp intellect and capable skills, Carmel had many other talents and interests," Whitney added. "She also explored photography and art, and in her later years she produced some beautiful watercolor paintings. Carmel was a loyal and faithful friend to many and was always generous with her time. She was willing to share her knowledge and listen to others. She deeply loved her family and relatives and enjoyed their support throughout her life."
Her cousin, Sr. Rosarii Beirne, also a Sister of Mercy, told Global Sisters Report that Carmel's rural childhood was idyllic. "She was surrounded with love and beauty. It is no surprise that she was a great lover of nature and that she so often reproduced nature scenes in her works of art."
McEnroy joined the Mercy Congregation in Ballymahon when Beirne was a student in the boarding school there. "She was a brilliant teacher. When she was sent to join our fledgling foundation in Missouri we felt she was a great loss to the Irish education system."
She also paid tribute to her cousin who as a junior professed sister gave her sound advice when Rosarii entered the Mercy Sisters. "She was able to take the broader view and to think outside the box." Of her many good qualities, Beirne highlighted Sister Carmel's sincerity and loyalty. "She was also very good humored, generous and hospitable."
According to Hunt, "Inroads that women make in the Catholic theological world, the ability to speak our truths in that most defended of sanctuaries, we do with thanks to Carmel McEnroy and her colleagues. History will be kind to them."
"Sr. Carmel McEnroy was a modern day example of a true Sister of Mercy," according to Sr. Susan DeGuide, regional superior of the Sisters of Mercy in the U.S. "She was always about further justice issues, especially those that pertained to women in society and the church. Even when things were most contentious for her, she always acted with integrity and with the best intention to further the significant role of women and especially women theologians in the Church. We stand very proud of her."
"My aunt was a fighter," Professor Joyce Smith of Ryerson University's Journalism Research Centre told Global Sisters Report. "When she felt strongly about something, she was all in, whether that was winning a game of Monopoly or challenging a parish priest after Mass about his lack of inclusive language. You wanted her in your corner.
"Somehow, she kept track of all of us and always had a card and often a gift for our important dates: wedding anniversaries, birthdays, graduations. This was no small feat given that she had six siblings, five in-laws, 20 nieces and nephews, and then their kids. She supported our pursuits, always genuinely interested and invested. And she was a lot of fun. I'll always admire her strength of conviction and her generosity. We're going to miss her."
[Sarah Mac Donald is a freelance journalist based in Dublin.]

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Thomas Doyle traces the disintegration of clerical/hierarchical culture Tom Roberts, Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church

Thomas Doyle is seen in an August 2018 photo. (AP Photo/PA Wire/Niall Carson)

I have thought recently that one way to understand the revived interest in the priest sexual abuse scandal, post-Theodore McCarrick and the Pennsylvania grand jury report of little more than a year ago, is in the context of the Kübler-Ross stages of grief. You know: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.
I think certain of us in the Catholic community have gone through several of those cycles, depending on when we were introduced to the crisis, how deeply we were involved in it, and whether it involved anyone we knew either as victim or perpetrator. No doubt the cycles will go on.
But in one peculiar and important sense, regarding the hierarchical culture at the heart of the scandal, perhaps we can now say with some certainty that significant portions of the community have arrived at acceptance of the death of the clerical/hierarchical culture.
That may appear a grand statement, but I think it safe to say that the culture is finished as we've known it. It no longer enjoys automatic deference as it once did from the wider culture; it has lost most of its credibility and influence in that wider culture; it has lost much of its credibility among Catholics; and, in Francis, it encounters a pope whose blistering criticism of the culture leaves no doubt that the old form is on its way out.
Watching the disintegration of a culture, however, is not understanding what caused it to crumble, how to rebuild it, or what will replace it. I'd like to end the year considering two important voices from inside the culture who have distinct insights into what went wrong and what will be necessary in the future.
The first up is Thomas Doyle, a canon lawyer, inactive priest and former member of the Dominican order. Regular readers of NCR are familiar with him; he was that extremely rare cleric who, from the very beginning, took a different approach from most in the clerical culture. Once deep inside the culture, in recent decades he has been largely on the outside, an unflagging advocate for victims of abuse and an itinerant expert for lawyers throughout the United States and in many other corners of the globe bringing cases against the church.
He recently gave a talk at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. It was a significant event, for despite the wealth of insight he brings to the subject, he is rarely invited to Catholic campuses to share his views.
The title of the talk, "The Phenomenon of Systemic Sexual Violation by Catholic Clerics and Religious: The Reality of a Church Transformed" engages the history, ancient and recent, and the deep institutional contradictions that formed the seedbed for the current crisis. The entire talk is available here.
Such abuse is not new in the church, writes Doyle. "The oldest prohibition against sex between adult men and young boys is found in the Didache which dates from the end of the first century." Between then and Pope Francis' 2019 document Vos Estis Lux Mundi, which deals with accused bishops, "are several hundred official documents on the matter issued by popes or gatherings of bishops."
The current manifestation "is evidence of a profound contradiction that reaches to the foundational core of the institutional church," he said.
Doyle's bona fides stem from his personal experience of the crisis, which dates to the early 1980s when he began to see t
he first reports of the scandal, particularly the Gilbert Gauthe case in Louisiana, while working in the nuncio's office in Washington, D.C.
After decades of reading through endless details in depositions, chancery correspondence and other documents, and speaking with victims and their families, he has come to some big-picture conclusions. And the first is that fundamental contradiction:
The Church, described as the Mystical Body of Christ, the People of God, the source of our earthly happiness and our hope for eternal life, has given its people one of history's most stringent and restrictive codes of sexual conduct and taught them that even slight violations can result in eternal damnation.
At the same time, those who have taught and enforced this path to God's favor have committed and systemically enabled the commission of acts against the most vulnerable in our midst that are deemed by most, if not all, societies as the most horrific and disgusting that can be perpetrated on another human being. ... It is a profound spiritual damage that can only be described as the murder of the soul.
There's no longer any denying, given exhaustive studies and investigations during the past three decades, that "the common element of causality" in the abuse crisis, he writes, "has been the role of the bishops and the inadequacy of the response."
In that regard, he begins at the top to "not only include but highlight" Pope John Paul II's failed efforts "to deny, minimize, and shift the blame."
Doyle lists five points illustrating "a harsh reality" revealed by the scandal and attempted cover-up:
Sexual violation and other forms of corruption are entrenched in clerical culture, which protects the clerics rather than the victims.
The hierarchy's obsession "with protecting its image, stature and power at the expense of the victims has had the opposite effect and has in fact, produced an erosion of respect and trust."
"This reality has revealed a much different 'church' than that of Lumen Gentium, the Catechism, or the Code of CanonLaw."
The history of abuse, denial and cover-up has been "embedded in the clerical culture that not only protected but enabled it, and this culture is no longer capable of hiding, controlling, minimizing or eradicating it. Nor is it capable of continuing to sustain the myth of clerical superiority based on magical thinking about the nature of sacred orders."
"This complex phenomenon is far more than the physical violation of minors by clerics and the fumbling response of church leadership."
Doyle's talk rings with an authenticity earned through his own painful experience in dealing with the church and with countless victims over the decades. There is probably a reason he's not a regular on the college circuit or asked to advise the hierarchy. His conclusions - which actually lead to a glimmer of hope in the future - are unvarnished.
The horrific history of sexual violation and the systemic, destructive response, now out in the open, has acknowledged what the hierarchy does not want to face: The People of God and the Hierarchical Governmental structure are not one and the same and the hierarchical structure we have lived with can hardly be blamed on Christ as its author.
I recommend sitting with this talk. Few on the planet bring Doyle's level of experience, understanding and bare truth to the matter. His words carry both the diagnosis and prognosis that can lead to the acceptance necessary for moving on.

Tom Roberts is NCR executive editor. Tom was NCR editor from 2000-2008. He is the author of The Emerging Catholic Church: A Community's Search for Itself (2011) and Joan Chittister: Her Journey from Certainty to Faith (2015), both published by Orbis Books.

The Divine Feminine-: Coming Into Balance Panel with Mitsi Ito, Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP, Lara Fine, Ondie Vinson at Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center, Sarasota, Florida Dec. 2, 2019

 First Tuesday of each month, November- March from 6:30pm-8:00 PM

     The Roman Catholic Church teaches that God is pure spirit, neither male nor female but uses mainly male images such as father, lord. King, master, warrior to describe “him.” Rarely, will you hear a feminine image of God mentioned in a liturgy or in the official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.

     Since God is beyond all images and human language fails to describe the fullness of divine mystery, it is important to use expansive imagery to refer to the Divine.

     My focus in this presentation is introducing some of the beautiful feminine imagery for the Holy One in the Hebrew and Christian scripture and in the mystics.

     I wrote 3 books on feminine images for God to explore divine mystery in deeper ways to help women and men reach greater wholeness by seeing themselves as equal images of God and to challenge patriarchal domination. (Exploring the Feminine Face of God, Delighting in the Feminine Divine and Heart Talks with Mother God- co-authored with Regina Madonna Oliver.)

  This led me on the path to live my call as priest/bishop in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. We are claiming our spiritual authority to lead the Church to healing, transformation and empowerment of women in a community of equals. (

Feminine Imagery in Hebrew Scripture

Gn.1:26 Creating human life in her image
“Then God said, let us make humankind in our image. , according to our likeness.”

Dt. 32:18  God describes herself in the motherly approach;
“You were unmindful of the rock that bore you(Yladeka) and you forgot the God who writhed in labor pains with you. (meholeleka).”

Second Is. 42:14 God describes herself screaming out in labor pains
“I have said nothing holding myself in; But now I cry out as a woman in labor gasping and panting.”

Is 49:15 God describes herself as a mother with an infant at the breast
“Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even if she forget, I will never forget you.”

Ps. 22:9-10 God describes herself as a midwife
“Yet, you drew me out of the womb, you entrusted me to my mother’s breast, placed me on your lap from my birth, from my mother’s womb you have been my God. “

In the Hebrew, Greek and Latin languages, Wisdom is of feminine grammatical gender, hokmah in Hebrew, sapientia in Latin and Sophia in Greek.
Wisdom is the feminine aspect of the one God and is personified as a woman in the Bible.
The Bible describes wisdom as female portraying her as mother, sister, female lover, hostess and preacher and in a variety of other roles.

Proverbs 8:17, 20-21 Sophia is a woman of justice
“I love those who love me…I walk in the way of virtue,  in the paths of justice, enriching those who love me, filling their treasures.”
Proverbs 8:18
“With me are riches and honor, lasting wealth and justice.”

Proverbs 8:4-11 Sophia is an angry preacher

She delivers her message at the city gates: ‘You ignorant people, how much longer will you cling to your ignorance? How much longer will mockers revel in their mocking and fools hold knowledge contemptible? Pay attention to my warning: now I will pour out my heart to you and tell you what I have to say.”

Feminine Imagery in Christian Scripture:

In John’s Gospel Jesus identifies himself with Sophia, Holy Wisdom.
Jesus, like Sophia, desires that all people come and eat and drink from him.

Jn. 6:35“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”
Sophia, the welcoming hostess invites all to her banquet.

Proverbs 9:5 “Come eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed.”

Matthew 23:37 Jesus refers to himself as “mother hen.” 
 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem…how many times have I yearned to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her young under her wings, but you were unwilling.”

God is described in maternal and feminine imagery in the mystics and saints in the Christian tradition

Fathers of the Church: Clement of Alexandria and John Chrysostom picture Christ as a mother nursing her child at her breast in the Eucharist.
“I am your nurse giving Myself for bread. (Clement)
“Let us as infants at the breast draw out the grace of the spirit. Let it be our sorrow not to partake of this food.” (John Chrysostom)

Twelfth Century Doctor of the Church: St. Hildegard of Bingen describes God birthing creation and holding all creation in perfect balance and harmony. She uses feminine imagery to refer to the Spirit, the work of the Trinity and to describe wisdom.

In Hildegard’s first vision of the feminine divine she describes a radiant woman adored by angels. “For she is with all and in all, and of beauty so great in her mystery that none could comprehend how sweetly she bears with us, and how she spares us with inscrutable mercy.”
“But why does the whole creation call this maiden ‘Lady?’ Because it was made from her that all creation proceeded, since love was the first. She made everything. Love created humankind. ..”(Scivias, Know the Ways)

Mechtild of Magdeburg (1210-1280) God’s Maternal Breast

“God is not only fatherly, God is also mother
Who lifts her blessed child from the ground to her knee.
The Trinity is like a mother’s cloak
Wherein the child finds a home
And lays its head on the maternal breast. “ (The Flowing Light of the Godhead, translated by Lucy Menzies)

Fourteenth century English mystic Julian of Norwich, in her Revelations of Divine Love, develops a rich innovative theology of the motherhood of God.  For Julian there is no human relationship capable of portraying the love of God better than motherly love.

“As truly is God our Father, so truly  is God our mother.”
I am… the power and goodness of fatherhood. I am…the wisdom and lovingness of motherhood.” (Showings, 293-299)

Contemporary Author: 
Bridget Mary Meehan, Exploring the Feminine Face of God, p. 79.

Who Are You, God?

I am the womb of mystery
I am the birther of new life
I am the breast of unending delight
I am the passionate embrace of woman
I am the emanation of feminine beauty
I am the mother of creation
I am the cosmic dance of Sophia Wisdom

I am the feminine face of God you have longed to kiss.