|Annie Watson with daughter Megan|
I feel I must respond to Douglas O. Chappell’s letter to the editor concerning Sunday’s article about the “rebellious nun.” He is right in that there are parts of the article that were “misleading and misinformed.” However, the general message of the article is correct. Annie Cass Watson, formerly of Danville, is part of a women priest movement for reasons that speak directly to the church’s misogyny. The church (Catholic and conservative Protestant sects) has practiced misogyny in many ways, including the exclusion of women from the clergy and the church’s teachings against modern forms of birth control. Theologically, the emphasis on Mary’s perpetual virginity contributes to the harmful notion that women’s sexuality is inherently evil, thus further relegating women to second class status.
Many male clergy in the church agree that the church’s doctrines that negatively impact women should change. The women in the movement realize that their ordinations lead to their excommunication, putting them in the same category as the mafia and others who commit egregious crimes. Those who cannot see the injustice of lumping women who peacefully seek much needed reform with hardened criminals have allowed a substance thicker than concrete to cover up their consciences and annihilate their rational abilities.
I hardly see how Chappell’s claim that “the church does more to promote the dignity of women globally than any other organization” can contain much validity at all. Tell that to women who are told they cannot serve as priests because they lack a male member.
I have no issue with Chappell’s assertion that celibacy and pedophilia are unrelated. He states that the “number” (and he surely means “percentage”) of pedophile priests is lower than the overall male population. I hope that’s true, but I hardly think that’s reason for celebration. The issue, which had no business in an article about women priests, is not about how many priests have molested children. The issue is that the church tried to cover it up and made a big mess.
Dr. Jimmy Watson (Annie Watson’s husband)
Pastor of St. John United Church of Christ (Cumberland) Indianapolis, Indiana
7810 Clearview Circle
Indianapolis, IN 46236