Joan Chittister urges us see Mary, the mother of Jesus, as a strong woman

Friday, September 6, 2013

“Hierarchy’s Mary is vastly different from ours”
Remember when the Vatican under Pope Benedict XVI issued a “doctrinal assessment” of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), the organization to which 80% of U.S. Catholic nuns belong?  The accusation was that the sisters were practicing “radical feminism,” advocating for the ordination of women to the priesthood, and taking stands on homosexuality and other social justice issues that the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith considered incompatible with Catholic  doctrine.  In 2012, the Vatican appointed Seattle Archbishop J.Peter Sartain to oversee the group.  Last month, Sartain addressed the annual assembly of the LCWR and emphasized the submissiveness of the Virgin Mary. Today’s Link of the Day comes from Sister Joan Chittister, who takes issue with his view of Mary.  Writing for the National Catholic Reporter, Chittister concludes that the quiet, docile image of Mary, as presented in the bishop’s homily, doesn’t fit with the real flesh and blood picture of Mary in Scripture.  Archbishop Sartain left so much out.  Sr. Chittister writes: “The Mary not mentioned in this homily . . . was a woman not intimidated into the Incarnation, not beholden to male answers, not shy about giving directions about what should be done, not without a high sense of personal responsibility, and not one bit in doubt about her place in the hierarchy of the church.”  Joan Chittister is a Benedictine Sister of Erie, PA, and is the author of many books on spirituality and social justice in its many forms, including women’s issues and human rights. She is co-chair of the Global Peace Initiative of Women, an organization that works in partnership with the United Nations.

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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