“Mama,” she said suddenly, “why dont we have any girl priests at our church?”They looked at one another, dumbstruck, unprepared. Too late. There was nothing left to do now but be honest.”Because, darling,” the mother said, “our church doesnt allow girl priests.”The little girl pursed her lips and frowned. “Then why do we go there?” she demanded.
Joan Chittister doesn`t pull any punches in her writings. The powers that be have tried to silence her over the years, but she continues to speak out about injustices in the church and in the world. Her latest article in the National Catholic Reporter addresses the role of women in the church – a favored topic for this Benedictine Sister. And a topic that will not easily go away, to the dismay of more conservative souls.
The article is worth a read, but so is the ensuing discussion board. As usual, there are vocal supporters and naysayers. What is apparent is that many good women and men are struggling to remain in a male-centered church.
Another article, Anita Caspary, religious visionary, dies in Los Angeles, is a tribute to the woman who led The Immaculate Heart of Mary of California community to break canonical ties with the church in the post Vatican II days. This came as a result of increasing power struggles over the community’s reform efforts with then conservative Los Angles Cardinal James Frances McIntyre. The community “rejected a life pattern that had to conform to canons issued by male clerics of another culture.” In turn, they “recognized the role of authority as service and emphasized co-responsibility.”
To stay or go continues to be a question asked by many. It is a reality that must be faced with opportunities for open and honest dialogue. A judgmental and critical spirit towards questioners will certainly not convince them to stay.