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.”