What Sister Sara Butler and the Vatican inquisitors fail to understand, is that women religious made these changes out of deep commitment to God and to living according to Gospel principles in the contemporary world. These nuns are courageous trailblazers, who have led the way in protests against injustice and abuse, no matter, where it is found, in or out of the church! The Sisters in religious orders have stood shoulder to shoulder with justice and peace seekers to end racial discrimination, war, human rights violations, exploitation of and abuse of women, and the abuse of the Earth. And yes, women religious, like Sr. Theresa Kane and Sister Joan Chittister, and many others have spoken out about injustices including sexism in church and society and have advocated for women's ordination in the church.
Feminism in religious life is not the problem, rather sexism in the church is a sin that needs to be confronted and changed. The church cannot continue to treat women as second class citizens and blame God for it. Women, according to canon law, must be ordained in order to have jurisdiction that is to engage in decision-making in our church in an official capacity. For Jesus women and men were equals. Why doesn't the hierarchy follow Jesus example?
The institutional church should express appreciation to the women religious for their many years of service, and ask forgiveness for all the times they have treated "the good sisters" as second class citizens.
Many women religious are supporters of women's ordination and of the Roman Catholic Womenpriests movement. They believe, as I do, that justice is an issue for all, including women in the church. This should make us all proud, not be a subject for investigation. What is the hierarchy afraid of?
Long live the feminism that speaks truth to power challenging oppression wherever it is found, including in our church.
May religious orders affirm the priestly ministry of their Sisters, and support them in taking the next steps to ordination if this is God's call and the community's discernment. Perhaps, this will mean, embracing a new paradigm of religious life. Perhaps, it time to dream new dreams and pray for a fresh outpouring of the Spirit! Sisters, I applaud your courageous witness to justice as an issue for women in the church, including women religious. Like the story of the nun who leaped over the wall, perhaps, Sisters, we need you to lead us once again, this time- in leaping over the walls of discrimination in our church. Together let us renew our beloved church as a community of believers that Jesus would be proud of- where all are welcome and all are equal- and all are the beloved of God!
Bridget Mary Meehan
National Catholic Reporter
Sister Sara Butler quoted:
"'Because much of the apostolic impulse was expressed through participation in social justice crusades, after religious had finished fighting for civil rights or for an end to the Vietnam War, they turned the tactics and revolutionary fervor toward perceived injustices inside the church,' she said."
" 'Another aspect of the problem, she said, was that church leaders underestimated the strength of radical feminism in the United States. This strain of feminism is no longer a part of the conversation in civil society, but it remains ascendant within religious communities,' she said."