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President of LCWR on "Fresh Air"

This past Tuesday, NPR's Terry Gross interviewed Sister Pat Farrell, the president of the LCWR, on "Fresh Air." Farrell offered a controlled and careful response to the CDF's recent criticisms, but she also did not cower or compromisewhen it came to issues about which the LCWR and many others in the Church have been advocating for dialogue. For that reason, I think the interview was also courageous and definitely worth checking out.A few key excerpts after the jump:

On dialogue within the Church:

The question is, 'Can you be Catholic and have a questioning mind?' That's what we're asking. ... I think one of our deepest hopes is that we can make headway in helping to create a safe and respectful environment where church leaders along with rank-and-file members can raise questions openly and search for truth freely concerning the very complex and swiftly changing issues of our day. But the climate is not there. And this mandate coming from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, putting us in a position of being under the control of certain bishops, is not a dialogue. If anything, it appears to be shutting down dialogue.

On "radical feminist themes":

Sincerely, what I hear in the phrasing ... is fear a fear of women's positions in the church. Now, that's just my interpretation. I have no idea what was in the mind of the Congregation when they wrote that. But women theologians around the world have been seriously looking at the question: How have the Church's interpretations of how we talk about God, interpret Scripture, organize life in the Church how have they been tainted by a culture that minimizes the value and the place of women?

On abortion:

I think the criticism of what we're not talking about seems to me to be unfair, because [Women] Religious have clearly given our lives to supporting life, to supporting the dignity of human persons. Our works are very much pro-life. We would question, however, any policy that is more pro-fetus than actually pro-life. If the rights of the unborn trump all of the rights of all of those who are already born, that is a distortion too.

On women's ordination:

There has, in fact, been an official opinion from the Church that that topic should not be discussed. When that declaration came out, the response of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious was to call for a nationwide time of prayer and fasting for all Women Religious, because our deep desire is that places of leadership for women in the Church be open. It remains a desire. Since then, the Leadership Conference has not spoken publicly about the ordination of women. Imposing a silence doesn't necessarily change people's thinking, but we are in a position to continue to be very concerned that the position of women in the Church be recognized.

On the limitations of an all-male leadership:

I think that the Church has been structured with all-male leadership, which has serious disadvantages, and the Church has been structured with a hierarchical, unquestioned structure that has little mechanism for accountability.That's so different from our reality within women's congregations, because for one thing, we elect all our own leaders, and we have experienced the leadership of strong women. Women have been leaders in our ministries. We're a very educated group of women within the Catholic Church. We have women who are CEOs of hospitals, of hospital systems, who are presidents of colleges, principals of schools. So as women religious, our lifetime experience has been of expecting strong leadership from women, and that's been our daily experience. So our experience of the leadership of women in the church is our daily bread. It's very different from that of the hierarchy.

Listen to the whole thing here or read the transcript.

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My favorite scholar is the American cultural historian and theorist Walter J. Ong, S.J. (1912-2003) of Saint Louis University. (His family name is English; for centuries, his family name was spelled Onge; it is probably related to the English name Yonge.)Among other things, Ong published a book-length study of male agonistic tendencies: FIGHTING FOR LIFE: CONTEST, SEXUALITY, AND CONSCIOUSNESS (1981), the published version of Ongs 1979 Messenger Lectures at Cornell University. The Greek word agon means contest, struggle. Ong attributes the propensity toward agonist behavior to male insecurity. On the one hand, he does not deny female insecurity. On the other hand, he holds that male insecurity is rooted in the males recognition that females are more important for the reproduction of the human race than males are. So thats the big picture that Ong draws attention to in his 1981 book.In his 1964 Terry Lectures at Yale University, expanded and published in book form as THE PRESENCE OF THE WORD: SOME PROLEGOMENA FOR CULTURAL AND RELIGIOUS HISTORY (1967), Ong draws attention to basically the same male tendencies, but he refers to them there as polemic tendencies. The Greek term polemos means war, struggle.Ong also discusses agonistic structures in his most widely known book ORALITY AND LITERACY: THE TECHNOLOGIZING OF THE WORD (2002 ed., pages 42-45, 69-70), which has gone through more than thirty printings in English and has been translated into eleven other languages.In a 1998 interview with Sister Barbara Schlatter, Ong makes certain further points that strike me as relevant to Sister Patricia Farrells observations and comments. Sister Schlatters unpublished transcription of the interview is too lengthy for me to post here. But I will post enough of the interview here to give you the flavor of Ongs thought.[Schlatter: I told Ong that I taught Othello, Macbeth. He asked how they [students] reacted. I explained how I have more success if I have the students do what the authors did: for Beowulf, write in a 4-beat alliterative line, making someone look wonderful. He added "or dastardly." I told Ong how--with Chaucer--I have them describe a modern day pilgrim in iambic pentameter.]Ong: They're getting a good course.Schlatter: On Shakespeare, why is he considered so good. He's taking stories that pre-existed, but what he does with them--is he doing more with interiority of characters than previous authors.Ong: Interiority. Oh, I think he is [doing more with interiority]. That's why with characters . . . what people call three-dimensional. . . that's one thing they're getting at with three-dimensional. If you're interior, it's another [mess? dimension?]. There are more conflicts; they're just not facts [?].Schlatter: Round characters couldn't exist in an oral culture?Ong: Yes, [in an oral culture] you've got to say it and get it over with. . . you've got to have it hop right out there flat; the complexity is too much for them. Well, that's fine. You're doing well.The Novel Ong: [Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice.] Here is where things start getting interior. You know where I say somewhere that women were not trained in rhetoric. Rhetoric is for outside display, for up on a platform. Do you know that in the Lincoln-Douglas debates, Lincoln and Douglas were over here in the fields of Illinois on a hot summer day. The first speaker was allowed an hour. The second speaker was allowed an hour and a half. Then the first speaker had a half-hour rebuttal. And they were shouting at the tops of their voices. See, that's why you didn't have women orators. You can hear a woman's voice at a distance, but you can't hear the articulated syllables. You can't understand what she's saying when she put it at that pitch, the articulation won't work. Schlatter: Maybe no one would want to listen to a woman then.Ong: Well, they might. People listen to women orators now with a loud speaker. Schlatter: That's why there were no women on stage?Ong: I think it had something to do with it indirectly. Men's education was for oratory which is external--external in the way you handle your thinking, and it's external when you express yourself. Women didn't have that kind of training. And that gave them the advantage of doing what a woman would do better anyhow--of exploring her own interiors. You know you have Lady Murasaki Shikibu who was a Japanese woman of the 11th century. She wrote a novel [The Tale of Genji]. In the 11th century! You couldn't imagine somebody in the West doing that. She's a woman. She gets inside the way people think and feel. And that's what drives women crazy with men: They don't want to do that. That's what drives men crazy with women: They always want to do that. That's all they want to do: Why did she do this? and Why did she do that? Well, then think about this [part?]. You know, women's writing can have complexities that drive men up the wall. They can't understand what the hell they want to do about [?]. You know what I'm talking about. In Jane Austen--the complex relationships between the characters. You don't have that kind of complexity in Shakespeare. You've got complexities, but it's not that kind. It's not people looking at other people and saying, 'What's she thinking when she does this?' That's a woman's world, and men feel excluded from it. The men are really lost in it.Schlatter: How do you account for the popularity of Austen among some men?Ong: Well, because you can adapt to that. But they weren't the ones who started it out.Schlatter: Who was the audience for Austen?Ong: Many of the early women authors use a masculine name . . . George Eliot--to get them out on the market.Schlatter: Was the readership male primarily or . . . ?Ong: I think it was primarily female, but you have to do that [use male name] to get the publishers to take it. Schlatter: Who was buying it?Ong: It would be women who would be buying it [?].Schlatter: Were there that many women educated in Jane Austen's time?Ong: They were getting more and more. Schlatter: Characters in Pride and Prejudice read books--male and female.Ong: Women are interested in what men do. And what they're thinking. That's what a woman really wants to know, What are those men thinking?Schlatter: Because they're interested in interiority?Ong: That's right. What's making them tick inside. This goes back to being a mother. Women can manage chaos without eliminating the chaos. That's the way a mother runs a family. You can't wait until you get the chaos all cleaned up. You've got to have it running while it's still chaotic. The men have to get it all straightened out first; then they can do it. That's in a general sort of way.Schlatter: As you get older, trying to deal with the chaos--is that control male or female?Ong: It's a mix of female and male as you get older. You're letting more of a male side of you carry control.[Schlatter: I told Ong about going through my journals to try to describe what was going on in my life when I had medical problem.]Ong: You're interested in what goes on inside you. Schlatter: Writing it down in an orderly way [in my journals] gives me a sense of control. It's a complex thing, but I think it makes sense. Ong: Women manage chaos without eliminating it whereas men eliminate it.Schlatter: How do men eliminate chaos?Ong: "Get those kids out of the house!"Schlatter: Let's put that into literature.Ong: OK. The women write novels. The men didn't write the first novels, roughly speaking. Men were writing the picaresque. People like Don Quixote and Tom Jones. But not Jane Austen. Men later on can do that. They learn it from women. It's one of the many things that men learn [from women.] [Tape ran out.][From Schlatters notes: Women's studies affect theology, Church government. Men are afraid of femininity. Women are not afraid of masculinity. Women aren't afraid to wear pants, but men won't wear skirts. Men are not afraid of women: They can beat them up. Women are afraid of men: They can be beat up.]David Toolan, S.J., discussed Ong's account of male agonistic tendencies in his article "The male agony: According to Walter J. Ong" in COMMONWEAL, volume 119, number 20 (November 20, 1992): pages 13-18.Recently John Coates of Cambridge University has studies male agonistic tendencies in detail in his book THE HOUR BETWEEN DOG AND WOLF: RISK TAKING, GUT FEELINGS AND THE BIOLOGY OF BOOM AND BUST (2012).

As Sister entered the lions den of the MSM, where the pro-life position is mocked when its considered at all, one hopes she could have mustered the same courage she seems able to summon when she disagrees with the official teaching of the Catholic Church. Instead, we get this:We would question, however, any policy that is more pro-fetus than actually pro-life.Hope you didnt hurt yourself with that bold proclamation, Sister. And you wonder where all your flowers have gone?

Eric Bugyis: How about spelling her surname the way she spells it: Farrell?

"We would question, however, any policy that is more pro-fetus than actually pro-life. If the rights of the unborn trump all of the rights of all of those who are already born, that is a distortion too."I read this differently than above. If being pro-life is measured ONLY by what nuns do to stop abortion, that stunts (distorts) the mission of many orders, which is to support life at all phases and in many ways. You help women who need pre-natal care, you're pro-life. You prevent malaria among young children, you're pro-life. You provide teenagers with a safe, quality education, you're pro-life. You provide health care for the elderly in areas that have no doctors, you're pro-life.OTOH, I know there are many Catholics who believe that if you do not make a priority of the unborn, which is being lost by the millions each year due to legalized abortion (and without benefit of baptism, which means not only ending those lives but risking sending all those babies to Perdition for eternity), you can't really call yourself pro-life. FWIW, I've always thought Catholics who call unborn life "innocent" a little weird. In the eyes of the Church, no human life is "innocent"; it's all tainted with original sin from the moment of conception. Church teaching about the fate of the souls of the unborn is pretty harsh. You can hope, the Pope says, they go to heaven. The message to parents who have lost children is pretty much, "Hope away, if you want, but don't count on it."

Very interesting, and I hope you'll also post Gross's interview with Bp. Blair. Farrell has obviously thought out her positions very carefully, and presents them very well indeed. Assuming for the moment that she is accurate in the statements governing the LCWR's relations with the CDF, it looks more than ever as if Rome has picked these particular issues at this particular time to divert attention from its massive failures in dealing with the abuse crisis, particularly in the last decade. Perhaps Bp. Blair will be able to convince us othewise -- we'll see. I myself fear that it will equate "obedience" with "unquestioning obedience," and hope I am wrong.

This is not going to end well.

I thought she went along fine, very carefully and diplomatically, until she objected to pro-life efforts that were really pro-fetus efforts. I agree with Jim.

"This is not going to end well."Jim, I usually understand where you're coming from, but I don't quite follow what "this" refers to or what you see that bodes a bad ending for someone/something.What puzzles me is that LCWR is being investigated at all. The postV2 nun is on her way out, and investigating these women strikes me as somewhat pointless. For good or ill, this type of nun is dying out.JP2 nuns are ascendant. They wear habits, focus more on anti-abortion efforts, are less visible outside the Catholic community, and are attracting the younger members of the Church.

I think it's true that VII nuns(like VII priests) are and will be dying off -and I don't think that "ends well."I thought Sister did just fine and therfre are many who I think would agree.The entire CDF process, the whole problem of "dialogue." the issue of women and feminism -and despite the one idea minset offered by some here -the whole Gospel of life are issues in divide! AAR, the future seems rather grim to me if position intransigence is the name of the game.

I find these women inspiring; I think many other people do, too, so already something good has come of this.

I dropped a comment on this topic at America and promptly had it deleted. As far as I can remember, about all I said was that it had been painful to listen to Sr. F as she very, very carefully chose every word she spoke. (The interviewer had said as much, so this shouldn't have offended the Jesuits.) I did also remark that Sr. F would likely leave the leadership of her group before long, because she'd clearly decided - bravely, maybe - to meet her ecclesiastical hand slap head on by being publicly oppositional, and oppositional people make very poor negotiators.I'm afraid there aren't enough sisters left in America for them to have much leverage in Rome, especially those inclined to diss the male hierarchy in public. Aesop would have a lot to teach them about getting along in life, if they'd listen. But, of course, he's a dead white male.

the future seems rather grim to me if position intransigence is the name of the game

Of course it is, Bob. If you don't think so, try telling off your boss next time he does a stupid thing.

When the 9 year old pregnant girl in Brazil had an abortion to save her life, the bishop there stated ... "Abortion is much more serious than killing an adult. An adult may or may not be an innocent, but an unborn child is most definitely innocent." ... http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1883598,00.htmlThe idea that some lives are worth more than others is not Christian - nowhere that i recall (correct me if I'm wrong) does Jesus or God rate human lives.

David S. --Aesop's origins are really unknown, but one tradition has it that he was a black Ethiopian.

Thomas Farrell --Thanks for the interview snips. Lots of wisdom about women there, unusual in a Jesuit. We're not usually in their radar.

@Ann Olivier (7/21, 10:35 pm) Thanks for this comment of yours. Here's a link to the Wikipedia entry on Aesop and the question of whether he was of African origin (whether Ethiopia, Nubia, or elsewhere). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aesop#Physical_appearance_and_the_question_... general, it's worth keeping in mind that for much of the Mediterranean world 2-3 millenia ago, Africa was seen and understood to be the origin of much of the wisdom and knowledge accumulated by humanity---and that all other wisdom and knowledge (e.g., including that associated with the ancient Greeks) was derived from and/or built upon the foundation laid by the Egyptians, Ethiopians, Nubians and other Africans.

Luke --One of the things I learned teaching in a predominantly black college was that one reason to go with the Aesop-was=African theory is that it is fairly typical of African cultures to embody wisdom in stories about different sorts of animals. Animals, through instinct, embody some amazing "wisdom" in their behavior, so why not make them the stars of the wisdom stories ? About African influence, St. Augustine was an AFrican. His mother was a Berber, a people of mixed race, and he was described as "swarthy". One can hardly overestimate his influence on the West.

Without necessarily agreeing with everything that comes from the LCWR, what Sister Pat makes clear here is the difference between searching for the living God and opting to worship the institutional church. Recall James Alison on this (March interview in Commonweal with Brett Salkeld). The more the institution pronounces on these things in such a preemptive, arrogant fashion, the clearer that distinction becomes. Totaliy unrelated, but see no place else to comment: the coming sanctions against Penn State only serve, for me, to underline that the Church holds itself to a much lower standard than the "world." How little penalty, punishment, conversion, repentance, restitution has the institution required of itself vs. what happens in sex abuse cases "out there." And these are the "authentic teachers of faith and morals"? Dreadful, shameful witness!!! Hmmm...isn't so unrelated to the LCWR issue after all, is it?

searching for the living God and opting to worship the institutional churchNo one is worshipping the institutional Church. But Christ established the Church to lead us to the living God. He must have believed we needed its help. The two ideas: living God and institutional Church are not mutually exclusive as implied by the above statement but rather mutually complementary.

Janet is right - the institution is deeply problematic in that it has (as the result of post VII kickback) become the CDF/curia model Church - in contrast to the nuns . who operate in pastoral activity,especially with those on the margins.Part of that issue is echoed in Ms. Fullam's new thread.The Penn St. matter is relevanr to the mess in Philly (I see Ft. Brennan will be retried and Bishop Bransfield under investigation with all the internal links there to bishops past and present, living or dead)/. There are many who would like it to end and don't want to know and some who don't want you to know.Beyomd that the Penn St. analogy lonks to the NCAA which has "institution controls" over its individual memebers, sort of analogous to USCCB and individual dioceses.The latter has "fraternal correction" as its managing damage conytol and reputation protection as its tool, but pbviously the NCA thought harsh penalties were needed to correct a culture of institution first - even now as folks in Penn St. community are unhappy about how such sanctions will affect their beloved Penn St.Which gets us back ro the Church it operates basically on its own rules which insulate those who have governnace positions. They contiue to operate in an insular manner .If the Church operates like any good business in its damage control mode, is that pointing us to the living God?

Bob N. --Would that the Church would operate like any good business in its damage control. If senior management in a small American business had covered up abuses of those beneath them the way the hierarchy has done, they would all be out on their ears over the week-end. But what does the Church do? It promotes the worst of the cover-uppers, Cardinal Law, to a cushy job in Rome, even as he maintains his position in five curial dicasteries.(So you say to yourself, she sounds like a broken record. She responds: you needed reminding.)

"Jim, I usually understand where youre coming from, but I dont quite follow what this refers to or what you see that bodes a bad ending for someone/something."I just mean that I don't see any sign in these comments from Sr. Farrell that there is any willingness to take the CDF's critique to heart. In my experience over the last 30-40 years of Catholicism, American religious sisters are pretty adept at deploying the language of "study", "reflection", "discernment", "dialogue". That language would actually be pretty welcome from the LCWR at this juncture, because it would indicate that it acknowledges that the CDF may have an important corrective to offer, one that requires reflection, discernment and dialogue among the LCWR's member congregations and their leaders. I don't see that spirit pervading Sr Farrell's comments. What good could these public comments possibly accomplish? \This (meaning, "the relationship between the LCWR and Rome") could go down a very bad road, of public acrimony and an ever-widening split - an ever-widening fracturing of communion. Who would wish to see that happen?

Bruce: it is not the fact of the institution or and organization that is opposed to the search for the livng God and to true worship, it is the current climate, color, culture of the institution that is the obstacle and the antithesis. Read that section of the James Alsion interview: it is truly breathtaking in its accurate assessment of what happens when Catholics fall into ecclesiolatry. I know from experience. what this means, as I used to be an ecclesiolater myself.

Here is the Alison quote: "Spending time, as I do, with people on both sides of the Reformation divide, I find strict parallels between the temptations to which either side is prone. Protestantism is tempted to bibliolatry, and Catholicism is tempted to ecclesiolatry. Both are forms of idolatry that involve some sort of grasping of security where it is not to be found. This grasping ends up by evacuating the object grasped (whether the Bible or the church) of meaning, turning it instead into a projection of the one grasping. The nonidolatrous approach is when we allow ourselves to be reached and held by a living act of communication from One who is not on the same level as either Bible or church, but of whose self-disclosure those realities can most certainly become signs. A sure sign of a pattern of desire locked in grasping is the speed with which we collapse into invidious comparisons such that we acquire our identities over against others in our own group, rather than receiving them together patiently from the one calling us into being."As a Catholic I am fully committed to the notion that, the Word having become flesh, the living act of communication is an ecclesial one, made available through bodily signs. In addition, I take it for granted that the church is prior to me, and that if something is church teaching, it is true. The presumption is on there being some sort of truthfulness at work in the stated teaching until it becomes clear that this is not the case. The real question for me, as a Catholic trying to think toward the future, is this: we know that we have only one Magister, the Incarnate Word of God, and that the authentic teaching office in the church is not above, but serves, this Living Word. Furthermore, this Living Word has chosen to address us at a level of fraternal equality, making of us his brothers and sisters who have only one Father, God, and are not to call anyone else our father. So, how do we hold fast to the experience of Jesus teaching us in and as church as we become aware of how often the bishops, those who have been consecrated sacramental signs, seem to allow the richness of the faith to become secondary to culture-war imperatives, institutional self-interest, and the search for corporate approval? I think that reimagining the ecclesial shape of Christ teaching in our midst, exploring the sort of act of communication genuine divine teaching is, and understanding better the relationship between the Teacher, those taught, and those charged to be signs of truthfulness is going to be one of the real challenges of the next generation.""Theology as Survival," interview with Brett SalkeldCommonweal, 03/07/12

"This (meaning, 'the relationship between the LCWR and Rome') could go down a very bad road, of public acrimony and an ever-widening split an ever-widening fracturing of communion. Who would wish to see that happen?"Not me. But it seems to me that the eventuality of a nun-spawned schism is an extremely long shot given that the average nun is in her 60s or 70s (depending on who's doing the count), and the dearth of nuns in general. Wait 10 years, and those women will be dead or unable do anything, whether it's opposing abortion, teaching school, or fomenting heresy, more's the pity.Heck, I used to know a lot of nuns when I was a Protestant. Now I'd have to travel 25 miles to find the nearest one. I'd have to travel at least an hour to find a group of more than two nuns, and that would be the retirement homes for women religious in Grand Rapids or Adrian.

Jean, I agree, and the numbers, by themselves, are tragic. But despite their dwindling numbers (and despite the determination of at least some of them to marginalize themselves within the church), religious sisters still command a significant hold on the popular Catholic imagination, one that far exceeds their sheer numbers and their collective dwindling energy. An ugly public fight with church authorities is bad, not only for the nuns and the authorities, but for the church as a whole.As we've seen here in comments in the many posts on religious sisters over the last several years, a lot of progressive Catholics follow the sisters' situations closely. It may be that some progressive Catholics would cling more to progressive nuns than to the church - may even, if, God forbid, it should come to that, follow them right out the door.People intuit, I think, that the church needs religious sisters. Their holiness and their witness are important, in ways that perhaps are hard to articulate. Maybe folks can tell that I'm frustrated by American religious sisters. Here's why: in my view, the CDF notification didn't drive sisters farther away from the church authorities; it simply acknowledged the distressing reality that sisters have not been as wholeheartedly in communion as I would wish them to be, for many years now. I don't know how much folks appreciate the forbearance and mercy that the notification represents. It presents an opportunity to heal wounds that are wide and deep. The guy that Rome has appointed to work with the sisters seems like he's open to a productive and collaborative relationship, and has sent a number of public signals to that effect. And yet, every public utterance from the sisters' leadership is of defiance and determination to make things worse rather than better.

Here is an example of what frosts me. Sr. Farrell says this in the interview: "I think the criticism of what were not talking about seems to me to be unfair, because [Women] Religious have clearly given our lives to supporting life, to supporting the dignity of human persons. Our works are very much pro-life. We would question, however, any policy that is more pro-fetus than actually pro-life."Perhaps it isn't fair to expect women religious to measure up to Mother Teresa's standard. But consider the witness of Mother Teresa's life. Surely her lifetime of service in support of the dignity of the lives of those already born is profoundly pro-life, as Sr. Farrell's criteria would hold. Yet Mother Teresa also provided powerful witness on the sanctity of life before birth. I'd imagine that many dotCom readers are already familiar with Mother Teresa's amicus brief, filed with the US Supreme Court. For those who aren't, it's available here. http://groups.csail.mit.edu/mac/users/rauch/nvp/roe/mothertheresa_roe.ht... light of the eloquence that Mother Teresa summoned in this legal filing, Sr. Farrell's political potshot about "pro-fetus" policies is difficult to excuse.

Can't you work up a damning case against anybody by accusing them of things they have failed to do? Mother Teresa herself was accused by many for giving dying people a bed but for "withholding" pain killers.My last word on here as I think my being a convert and a very poor one prevents me from seeing this issue the way a real Catholic might.But I don't understand the point of going after good women who do good work for not being better, or for somehow not being as "wholeheartedly" in communion with the Church as measured against some sort of unstated standard. As if there were degrees of being in communion like levels of Free Masonry.

Since no new thread on Bishop Blair's follow up interview, I think he came over as stuffy and by the book.Really interesting was the new head of CDF commenting that it was "obvious" that men and women are of equal place in the church.He added the position of priest was not one of power.I found his coments on this to be disingenuous to say the least.BTW, I funs Jim;s commen tabout not being "wholeheartedly in comunion with" of the same stripe- but I gues that's his idea of the "big tent" or "smaller/purer" Church.

as long as all power in the church is in the hands of the clergy, then the position of the priest will necessarily be one of power, no matter what the individual priest thinks or how he behaves. the whole setup is absurd in light of the teaching and behavior of the Lord Jesus.it is decidedly NOT "obvious" that men and women are equal in the church. denying women, BECAUSE they are women, one of the sacraments does not support any vision of equality that makes sense to me or to countless ther women and men. it also follows that, despite what the documents of Vatican II said about the growing emancipation of women and how that Council upheld the right of women to pursue their vocations in freedom, the men who run the church are profoundly disobedient in this. big news, right? lets's face it: institutional Catholicism is simply sexist and is merely hanging on to the reflexive discrimination against women that has plagued most institutions (and which most have now relinquished). the fact that the "powers that be" try to scaralize it and dress it up in tortured and entirely irrational arguments only serves to underscore the fact that the emperor remains as naked as the day he was born. most normal people find it laughable, if not incomprehensible. if God's grace discriminates based on gender, then we need to come clean and say that women are, in fact, inferior, subordinate and not created in the divine image. if grace does not discriminate based on gender, then the the higher-ups who invest themselves so heavily in protecting and defending the privilege of the "sacred male" need to repent and start believing in the living God.

"Our works are very much pro-life. We would question, however, any policy that is more pro-fetus than actually pro-life."Sr. Farrell seems to be assuming here that a fetus is not an actual person, a position which is common among pro-choicers. It is not the official teaching of Rome, and Rome should realize that if even the nuns are not persuaded by the official "arguments" that Rome has failed in its teaching duty. But, no, Rome always blames the other party. Fr. Muller's claim that it is "obvious" that women are equal to men is yet another silly assertion from the curia of the form "As Rome has always taught . . . " What nonsense. He must think the laity still can't read. We're in for rough times, folks. The man is shameless.

Btw, Samantha Bee did a very funny feature segment on the Daily Show last night in which Sr. Simone Campbell had a chance to give her side of the dispute. I'd have wished her to say a few things differently than she did, but as I say, it's very funny, and she comes across in a very positive way.(I'm not sure how to link to the specific segment. Going to www.thedailyshow.com provides a link to it).

The Magnificat of the Nuns on the BusMy soul proclaims the greatness of the earth mother,and my spirit rejoices in the media's adoration.For C-Span, CNN, and the New York Times have looked with favor on sister celebrities.Henceforth, all generations will call us blessed crying, "We're All Nuns now!"For the Huffington Post has done great things for usAnd we've sold lots of t-shirts.The goddess Gaia pours out blessings on all who march for the wetlandsin every generation.She has shown the strength of her arm at the School of the Americasand has scattered the patriarchal old men in Rome who dare to correct us.She has filled Youtube with videos about usand thousands like us on Facebook and Twitter.She has come to the help of the Leadership Conference of Women Religiousremembering her promise to promote women's ordination, the new age, and global warming,the promise she made to our mothers, women who play mass pretending to be priests forever.Glory be to Gaia, Sophia, and Astarte,As it was when we first lost our faith, is now when we've lost our minds, and will be forever in hell if we don't repent.Amen

Hey, A. Henneberry, if you're going to post something from some other website/author, you should credit that other website/author. Especially if it's full of super hilarious jokes about those dippy nuns and their School of the Americas protests! Cuckoo!

[...] (Nov. 22) of Rolling Stone has a great story on the nuns’ bus tour this summer and their recent struggles with the Vatican (“The Sisters Crusade”). I don’t think it has been posted online [...]