Joan Chittister Speaks Out on Church Attitudes toward Women

January 28, 2015

Sr. Joan Chittister, Benedictine nun and prolific author, recently appeared on NPR’s Here & Now program to talk about  the Roman Catholic hierarchy’s attitude toward women.  Of course, it isn’t only Catholicism that  fails to acknowledge and appreciate the intellectual and spiritual abilities, leadership qualities, and full humanity of women. We see such oppressive attitudes toward women in much of Protestant Christianity as well.

Chittister writes:  “This anti-female attitude — they don’t want to call it that, they’ll never call it that. ‘We respect you, we love you. Look at how we put you on a pedestal,’ meaning as long as you’re on a pedestal, you yourself can’t move any place. This is very, very ingrained in churches in general and in the Catholic church certainly.”  She says that just as the Church’s past teachings on slavery, anti-Semitism, and racism place it on the “wrong side of history,” so it is with its teachings and practices on gender inequality. “Every single thing that we have dealt with this way has fallen, and we know it. This will fall too because it is so wrong. It’s theologically untenable. It’s psychologically ridiculous, and it’s scientifically bizarre and bankrupt.”

You can listen to the entire 9-minute interview with Sister Joan Chittister,  or read highlights from the Here & Now transcript:  “Nun Hopes for More Gender Equality in the Church.”


Letha Dawson Scanzoni
Letha Dawson Scanzoni (1935-2024) was an independent scholar, writer, and editor, and the author or coauthor of nine books. In 1978, she and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott wrote Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?, one of the earliest books urging evangelical Christians to rethink their views on homosexuality (updated edition, 1994, HarperOne). More recently, Letha coauthored (with social psychologist David G. Myers) What God Has Joined Together: The Christian Case for Gay Marriage (HarperOne, 2005 and 2006). Another of Letha’s most well-known books is All We’re Meant to Be: Biblical Feminism for Today, coauthored with Nancy A. Hardesty (Word Books, 1974; revised edition, Abingdon, 1986; updated and expanded edition, Eerdmans, 1992). Letha served as editor of Christian Feminism Today in both its former print edition (EEWC Update) and its website for 19 years until her retirement in December 2013.


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