Joan Houk on left, on right, Bishop Ida Raming laying on of hands at bishops ordinations on April 19, 2009 in California.
Thank you for publishing the article about the Vatican's investigation of U.S. religious sisters ("Vatican Inquiries Into Sisters Causing Trepidation," July 3). Being a Catholic today has much in common with being in an abusive marriage. Do you stick it out and work for change, or do you leave? Many have left, and those who have stayed are being "investigated."
People in an abusive marriage can go to counseling. The counselor creates a safe place to discuss differences. Some abusive spouses will not go to counseling, and neither will the official church.
There is no safe forum for discussing the ordination of women, which many believe is the key issue behind the Vatican's move. The official church has a three-step monologue process for those who disagree: (1) write official documents telling people what to believe, (2) failing to convince, apply sanctions, and (3) when people will not be silenced, tell them that they have "placed themselves outside the church."
If Catholics speak out about the ordination of women, they risk being removed from their religious communities, their ministries or their jobs, which can mean loss of financial supports and benefits.
I speak about this from the inside having been told in public print that I have put myself out of the church. No personal letter, no phone call, no counseling, no discussion, no dialogue, just "out"; however, I will not be abused, and I will not leave my church. The result of my taking this stand is that I have found myself in the best of company.
JOAN CLARK HOUK
The writer was among women ordained by Roman Catholic Womenpriests in July 2006.