Living Gospel Equality Now: Loving in the Heart of God: Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests
Tuesday, October 9, 2018
To Save itself, Catholic Church Must Promote Women Leadership | Faith Matters
Moderator Christine Emba of The Washington Post interviews Joseph Cardinal Tobin, the archbishop of Newark, during "A Moral Economy: Faith and the Free Market in an Age of Inequality'' at the Fordham Center for Religion and Culture on Sept. 5, 2018. The presentation took place at the Jesuit university's McNally Amphitheater on the Lincoln Center campus in Manhattan.
Earlier this year,
some 700 members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious stood on the
steps of the Old Courthouse in St. Louis as a public witness against racism.
At the World
Meeting of Families in Dublin in August, CBS News correspondent Jonathan
Vigliotti interviewed Sister Liz Murphy, secretary general of the Association
of Leaders of Missionaries and Religious of Ireland, sitting next to Chicago's
Cardinal Blase Cupich.
Cupich said his
archdiocese is committed to transparency, letting people know about accusations
of sexual misconduct against priests.
there's much more needed than just naming individuals, with respect,
Cardinal," Murphy countered, speaking of the church as a whole. "It
is a very male, masculine, institutional, top-down, dictatorial body. Who
wouldn't want, as a woman, to see that collapse?"
I almost fell off
my chair at her brutal honesty, offered in the sweetest of Irish accents.
sentiment was said more diplomatically by Sister of St. Joseph Catherine Nerney
in her new book, "The Compassion Connection."
"I have been
frustrated and saddened greatly by my sense of a gaping disconnect between the
official church's life and teaching and the real concerns and needs of people I
meet and care about," Nerney writes.
Many of the
church's fault lines have been exposed recently by the latest round of clerical
sexual abuse revelations.
Even Pope Francis has pointed
the finger at a clerical culture or what some call "an old boys
Much discussion has focused on
the failure of the church to truly embrace the "People of God"
envisioned by the Second Vatican Council -- and also the lack of women in real
leadership positions in the church.
Women religious -- sisters or
nuns -- have been the most faithful to realizing the reforms of Vatican II in
their orders and communities. Yet, they have been attacked by U.S. bishops who
had instigated a Vatican investigation into their communities and their
leadership group known as the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in
For several years, bishops were
given oversight of this group. But the sisters refused to withdraw or object
and worked diligently with them and the Vatican to show how disputes can be
In an excellent book recounting
their resolution of the struggle, "However Long the Night," Sister
Annmarie Sanders wrote: "Entering into a commitment to regular and
consistent dialogue about core matters that can divide us can be arduous,
demanding work ... that is transformative."
Joseph Cardinal Tobin, at the
time an archbishop in the Vatican office overseeing the investigation, objected
and was exiled by then-Pope Benedict to Indianapolis.
Pope Francis ended the
investigation; Tobin's stands for the women religious helped bring closure.
There is a need to bring more
women into Vatican and church leadership.
Mary Katherine Tillman wrote
"Unheard Of" in the summer issue of Notre Dame Magazine, repeating
the suggestion made by a Swedish cardinal that the pope needs "a College
of Women to parallel the Council of Cardinal Advisers to the pope."
Since feminist theology came
into its own in the 1980s, much has been written about women's leadership in
early Christianity. And none has been more revealing than Sister Christine
Schenk's "Crispina and Her Sisters." She uses burial tombstones that
reveal how women served as priests, deacons and even bishops in early
"Most people have never
heard of Bitalia, Veneranda, Crispina, Petronella, Marcia Romania Celsa, Sofia
the Deacon, and many other early women, even though their catacomb and tomb art
suggest their authority was influential," Schenk writes.
Women's leadership disappeared
around the 12th century.
Alienating women has severe
repercussions for the next generations of Christianity and Catholicism in
particular. The insights and experience of women are needed to help the church
get through this third wave of crises of sexual abuse.