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Dissident Nun Sister Joan Chittister – The LifeSiteNews Interview

LifeSiteNews.com
LifeSiteNews.com

(Editor’s note: The following is the full interview with Sister Joan Chittister who is to deliver a Lenten mission for the Canada’s National Catholic Broadcasting Council (NCBC), which airs the daily Mass on Vision TV.  LifeSiteNews reported on the upcoming on the mission here)

LSN: It's been reported that you hold positions that are divergent from Catholic magisterial teaching.  Would you say that's correct?

JC: Well, yes, I guess it is correct.  It's not an opposition position.  It is a position of query, of theological and scriptural commitment and search.  I'm asking the question, for instance, how do we understand God if God made women inferior to men, incapable of functioning as full adults, full moral agents, in a society.  What makes God a sexist?  And if God is not a sexist, when are we going to discuss this question as a Church?  The way we treat women is a result of our theology.  What we keep them out of, what we allow them to do, what we respect in them.  It emerged out of making a statement some years ago that I felt that the question of the role and place of women in the Church was a necessary discussion, and that it stood on strong theological concerns.

LSN: How do you see the Church being sexist, as you said.  In what particular ways do you see that happening?

JC:  Well, I think it's pretty obvious.  It's not going to take a rocket scientist to figure it out.  For instance, we have always had marital instructions for women that their role was submission to the husband.  Now when we see that on television, and we see it in China, or Japan, or Islam, we think it's terrible.  But it was our operational theology for years and years.  And even now we claim that there's very strong separate roles for women.  We argue that they are not – not only are they not fit matter to be ordained, as if Jesus came to earth to be male instead of flesh, but we don't even see women as fit matter to have their feet washed in a church on Holy Thursday.  Now, we have a double standard, and we have had it for a long long time.  It needs to be reviewed.  We have a Church that is based, like the rest of society, admittedly, on a patriarchal system – men are at the top, men are the last word, men are the first authority in everything.  The problem is - it seems to me, as a follower of Jesus, when I look at Jesus and the way Jesus dealt with men and women in his society and I look at the way the Church excludes women from the heart of the system, both in the Vatican, and in chanceries, and in dioceses, and in seminaries everywhere, that I have to wonder how it is that secular institutions are leading the development of women in society, rather than churches.  I think that's shameful.

LSN: Would say that the Church's teaching on contraception would enter into this as well?

JC: Well, the Church teachings on anything that separates a woman as a moral agent, or keeps women out of the discussions, the theological discussions and decisions that determine those questions – I have never ever made a pronouncement on the answers, but I am steadfastly committed to the fact that in the light of the continuing development of science and the social status of women everywhere, that these questions, whatever they are, about women in the Church, have to have women in the Church as part of the participating seekers and answerers of those questions.  In other words, it's a matter of saying, you know, everything written about us is written without us.  If a woman is a full moral agent, then she should be part of the decision making process on those questions.

LSN:  Okay.  So you don't have a stand on contraception?

JC:  Well, I'm a nun.  And I, I mean, I believe that – in the first place, the Church is not opposed to birth control.  The Church is great on arithmetic, they just have a problem with chemistry.  That's a whole question about the manner in which a family is planned.  But that there should be, can be, must be, will be family planning is a pretty, I think that's taken for granted.  But, yes, we have questions there about how that's done, but I think they properly belong to people who are married.

LSN: Okay.  Where do you stand on something like the woman's right to choose?

JC:  I believe that that's – let's put it this way.  I'm opposed to abortion.  I have no problem with that whatsoever.  I would never see abortion as a birth control method of choice.  But having said that, I would never condemn a woman who finds herself in the position where she believes that, or her doctor believes that, abortion is the only answer for her at that moment.  My problem lies in the fact that we make it an absolute.  We say that we can never, under any circumstances whatsoever allow abortion, and yet we allow death – men, men can kill for a number of reasons.  Men can kill to defend themselves, men can kill to defend the country, men can kill to punish the people that they believe should be killed.  And we never call those deaths absolute.  We allow men to sit down at a table and plan the destruction of the globe and we never ever say that that is totally, absolutely, gravely immoral and sinful.  But in abortion, we allow no discussion whatsoever of possible times when it would not be a matter.  That just seems to me to be anti-Catholic.  In every other dimension of moral, of the moral life, we recognize grades and degrees of innocence and guilt.  This is the one place where we say there are no grades or degrees of innocence.  There's only total absolute evil and sin.  I don't understand that.  I'm raising the question.  How do we explain that?  Am I opposed to abortion?  Get it straight.  As a birth control method of choice, I certainly am.  My major question is: why is this the one ... issue in which we never see any moment when it may not be as grave an issue as it might be under other circumstances?

LSN:  Okay.  So are you questioning whether there shouldn't be grey areas in terms of other kinds of deaths, or are you saying there should be grey areas in terms of abortion?

JC:  I'm saying we should be theologically consistent.  I'm just simply saying that these are questions.  They're obviously questions, and I think they need to be treated by the Church as if they were questions.

LSN: Would you think with the positions that you are questioning Church teaching on, do you think that the fact that you are questioning Church teaching on these things, would that present a problem for you presenting on a Catholic program?

JC:  Well, you see, I'm more concerned about your questions than I am about my presentation.  Because you're obviously not – you aren't even interested in the program.  What you're trying to do is to create some situation where a program on spiritual development in the 21st century is questionable.  And I'm not happy about that at this moment.  I consider it bad journalism in the first place, because you didn't call about the program.  So I don't know how to answer you, Pat.  I just think it's irresponsible.  If I said to you, now you're a journalist ...  The reason I want to know that is you’re a journalist, and can you really present those questions objectively if you're writing a story?  Now, I think that would be unfair, and I think what you're doing is unfair.  To say, do I believe that there are theological questions in this culture and this century that we haven't faced before that we need to face?  I think that's fair game.  But then to say to me, if you have questions, do you qualify to give a presentation in a Catholic Church?  I mean, who are you representing? ... For whom do you work? ... I really think you ought to stick to the news at hand.  I don't mean to be unhelpful, on the contrary.  But I don't like being manipulated.

JC: Now we're into infallibility.  We have two infallible teachings in the Church.

LSN:  Okay.  Which teachings are those?

JC: Well, I expect you to know because you're the one asking the question.  And this doesn't fall in either of those.

LSN:  Okay.  Well that would be somewhere where we differ in our opinion.

JC:  Is this infallible?

LSN:  What?

JC: I don't know.  Whatever you're talking about.  What are the infallible teachings in question?

LSN:  Well, the question about women's “ordination”, contraception…

JC:  Ordination is a question of infallibility?

LSN:  Absolutely.

JC:  Oh, well then what happened to Peter and his mother-in-law?

LSN:  What do you mean?

JC:  Well, Peter had a mother-in-law.

LSN:  Yes?

JC:  Well, was Peter allowed to be a priest?  What are we doing here?

LSN:  Yes.

JC:  We had married priests all the way to the 13th century.  None of them were priests?

LSN:  I'm not talking about married ordination.  I'm talking about women's ordination.

JC:  Ah.  Women's ordination.  I see.  That's your problem.  Women, right.

LSN:  My problem isn't with women.  My problem is with women's “ordination”.

JC:  But women couldn't be ordained.  But you do know that men could be ordained, right?  So it's only women?

LSN:  Yes.

JC:  Ah.  And on what do you base that?

LSN:  On the teaching of the Church and the will of Christ.

JC:  No, no, no.  What's it based on?

LSN:  The idea that only men can be ordained?

JC:  Yeah.

LSN:  It's based on the fact that that's the way Christ ordained it.

JC:  Christ didn't ordain anybody, Patrick.

LSN:  Christ decided that men were to be ordained.

JC:  No, Christ didn't decide that men would be ordained.  You have to have a little more theology before you begin to ask questions, Patrick.  You can't overlay it with another whole theology that is your own.  You're either asking questions because you're interested in the answers, which is a good journalistic question, or you're asking questions because you want to shape them one way or another.  I really think – I'm happy to come to Canada.  I think this is a great program that they're doing, allowing, they're enabling a wonder reflection on life for a Lenten season for the entire Church.  I think it's phenomenal, and I think that to try to upset that in any way outside of or because of your own personal questions or in order to, somehow or other, mix those questions at this time, I think that's a journalistic disservice.

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TLC pulls ‘19 Kids and Counting’ from schedule following Duggar molestation allegations

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By Ben Johnson

SPRINGDALE, AR, May 22, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The television network TLC has removed the Duggar family's reality show, “19 Kids and Counting,” from its schedule, at least temporarily.

Multiple news outlets have confirmed that the show, featuring the large and expanding evangelical Christian family, will not be on the air until the network makes a final decision about the program's fate.

The network had previously removed “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” from its network after “Mama June” Shannon had been seen associating with convicted child molester Mark McDaniel, possibly exposing her children to a sexual predator. Shannon has told the entertainment news outlet TMZ that she would sue the network for unfair and inconsistent treatment.

TLC has not made a final determination as of yet and aired a Duggar marathon Thursday evening as the controversy brewed.

Friday's move comes after media outlets obtained police records showing Josh Duggar, as a young teenager 12 years ago, inappropriately touched as many as five girls, often while they were sleeping. The police records show the incidents began in March 2002, the month the oldest Duggar child turned 14. He admitted the incident to his parents that July, but another incident took place in March 2003. At that time, the family sent him to a program that required counseling and hard physical labor.

Three years later, a letter containing details of the molestation was found, and its recipient notified police, who launched an investigation.

One of his victims told police, after Josh returned in July 2003, he had clearly “turned back to God.” No further incidents have been alleged.

Duggar's wife of six-and-a-half years, Anna, said Josh revealed the painful episode to her two years before they got engaged.

Since the allegations have been made public, Josh Duggar admitted his long ago wrongdoing, calling his teenage actions “inexcusable.” He also resigned his job at FRC Action, a pro-family lobbying organization.

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Some figures have offered the Duggars their reassurance that, whatever sins Josh committed as a teen, he can be – perhaps has been – forgiven by God.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, now a presidential hopeful, said that Josh “and his family dealt with it and were honest and open about it with the victims and the authorities. No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story.”

He said those who leaked the story were motivated by “insensitive bloodlust” to destroy the Duggar family. “There was no consideration of the fact that the victims wanted this to be left in the past, and ultimately a judge had the information on file destroyed—not to protect Josh, but the innocent victims.”

God, Huckabee said, forgives all sins.

“In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption,” Josh wrote.

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Rebecca Kiessling of Save the 1 - United States Steve Jalsevac/Vatican City
Rebecca Kiessling

I told her I was conceived in rape. She told me to prove I shouldn’t have been aborted.

Rebecca Kiessling
By Rebecca Kiessling

(Savethe1) - Why should I have to prove my worth and my right to life? When I first learned at the age of 18 that I was conceived in rape, I instantly felt targeted and devalued by our society because I’d heard what people said about pregnancy “in cases of rape.” Right away, I felt I was in a position where I would have to justify my own existence – that I would have to prove to the world that I shouldn’t have been aborted and that I was worthy of living.

I’ve since found my own value, identity and purpose in Christ, being created by God, in His image, and for a purpose, so I no longer feel I need to prove my worth to others in order to feel worthy. Instead, I share my worth out of gratitude for my own life being spared and in order that others may see the value of those who are still at risk – those who are in harm’s way as yet unborn and being targeted for abortion in the clinics, in legislation, and in people’s hearts and minds.

Whenever I speak, I share this aspect of my journey, but people are shocked to hear that I actually do get challenged to prove my value, to demonstrate my positive contribution to society and to justify my right not to have been aborted. This recent e-mail is a case in point. It was a tough inquiry to receive, but you’ll see my hopefully patient (and prayerful) responses below, and the ultimate outcome of the exchange:

I’m feeling sad and skeptical about rape babies.  I’d love to consider myself pro-life due to biblical reasons, but I just don’t really see what good can ever come out of a rape baby. I still think that it sometimes furthers the victimization of a rape victim. And it’s also because I’m very sad and disturbed by your blog.

I just think sometimes that it would be better if these babies never existed -- that every single one would naturally be miscarried by God’s will, so no one could bully them for their skeleton in their closet. Like I said, the subject manner disturbs me to the point where I vomit. I wish that every child was conceived in love and not violence because that's the way it should be. And I'm sad to say that the only way I could fully believe all of you rape mothers and children is if you were to pray for the peace of God that transcends all my futile understanding and my volatile, overly-sensitive emotions. 

There is no story in the whole world that can fully change my mind. The only way I could ever is if I were to befriend a victim or become the Bride of a man whom was the product of abuse. I'm so sorry to be brutally honest; it's just that my heart grieves to the point where I feel the struggle to overcome the sin of prejudice. I'm so angry at God that he allows this to occur.

Dear __, I appreciate you going to our blog and taking the time to reach out to us.  Your concerns are the most common, but research shows that rape victims are four times more likely to die within the next year after the abortion vs. giving birth. Dr. David Reardon's book Victims and Victors: Speaking Out About Their Pregnancies, Abortions and Children Resulting From Sexual Assault explains this.  So it's a myth which gets perpetuated -- that a rape victim would be better off after an abortion, that her child would be a reminder of the rape, and that she would even see her child as a "rape baby," as you put it.

I understand a lot of what you're saying.  You would definitely feel differently if you knew someone personally.  I wished I wasn’t conceived in rape, but I do believe now that God definitely brings good out of evil, and uses tragic situations to bring healing.  He doesn't intend the evil of course, but his trademark is redeeming really awful situations.

-- Rebecca

Her reply (again, challenging for me to read, but I think she candidly articulates a lot of what most people really wonder or think):

What has God done in your life personally besides this blog that has made your tragic family life worth the pain? Tell me what you have been doing: like marriage, dating, children, jobs, friendship, volunteer work; any of that. I am curious to see how God has given your life joy and purpose. I'm sorry if I have ever been difficult to handle. I'm emotionally impulsive when I hear something sad.

First of all, my birthmother and her husband legally adopted me 3-1/2 years ago because my adoptive family was really screwed up (long story of abuse and abandonment.) My own adoption by my birthmother was our fairy-tale ending.  She says I'm a blessing to her, I honor her and I bring her healing! I love adoption -- my two oldest are adopted (very open adoption,) and we adopted a baby with special needs -- Cassie -- who died in our arms at 33 days old. It was an honor to take care of her and was definitely one of the most important things I'd ever done in my life. She died because of medical malpractice.

Married for nearly 17 years, we have 5 children now – two adopted sons and our three biological daughters.  Here's my son's story. He wrote it last September at 12 years old.

Besides being the president and founder of Save The 1, I also co-founded Hope After Rape Conception. I'm a family law attorney, though I closed my law practice to have my children and to home school until 2-1/2 years ago.

I make baby quilts which I donate to pregnancy resource centers and I give to moms in unplanned pregnancies. My birthmother taught me to sew! I also taught my children to quilt, as well as many of my friends and their children. I've volunteered with orphan care, Sunday school, feeding the disadvantaged, free legal work, volunteer work for a maternity home, and helping in various ways with pregnancy resource centers. I changed the hearts of Gov. Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich on this issue during their presidential campaigns!

A large part of what I do is helping others to understand their value, identity and worth because lots of people struggle with these issues -- not just those conceived in rape. I hope this helps!  -- Rebecca

Her final response – from someone who said “there is no story in the world that can fully change my mind”: 

Dear Rebecca, thank you so much for your time to straighten out my emotional acting out -- I'm really glad you told me about your life. I really think I'll be okay now. I still wish that men wouldn't rape, but at least the world knows a lot more than they used to and I can say that I'm pro-life to my college professors without paranoia or anxiety. I even talked about helping people like you with my mom and dad. They told me I'm too sensitive in personality to be involved directly in domestic politics; yet, I'm praying about being a free English tutor for troubled families as well as being an anti-pornography informant or activist. After all, the porn industry has been statistically linked to the sexual violence pandemic. I'm so glad that you are living life well and to the best of your ability; keep telling people that just because your birth father was an evil scumbag doesn't mean that you are. Thanks Rebecca, you have really touched and strengthened my heart. With much sincerity.

 

BIO: Rebecca Kiessling was conceived in rape and nearly aborted, but legally protected by law in Michigan pre-Roe v Wade.  She's an attorney, pro-life speaker and blogger, and President of Save The 1. Her own website is www.rebeccakiessling.com

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Boy Scouts president: We need to allow open homosexual leaders

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By Dustin Siggins

May 22, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Boy Scouts of America president Robert Gates says the youth organization must change with the times and allow open homosexual men to serve as Scout leaders.

Gates, the former U.S. Secretary of Defense and CIA Director, said in a speech at the 2015 Boy Scouts of America (BSA) National Annual Meeting Thursday that the Boy Scouts would have to adjust to "the social, political, and juridicial changes taking place in our country -- changes taking place a pace this past year no one anticipated."

According to Gates, the way to balance the religious affiliations of "some 70% of our scout units" and avoid "a broad [court] ruling that could forbid any kind of membership standard" is to offer individual troops a flexible membership policy. 

"For me, I support a policy that accepts and respects our different perspectives and beliefs, allows religious organizations -- based on First Amendment protections of religious freedom -- to establish their own standards for adult leaders, and preserves the Boy Scouts of America now and forever."

"I truly fear that any other alternative will be the end of us as a national movement," said Gates, who said that BSA should "seize control of our own future, set our own course, and change our policy in order to allow charter partners -- unit sponsoring organizations -- to determine the standards for their Scout leaders."

This is not the first time that Gates, who led the military to end its two decades-long Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, has supported gay Scout leaders. Last year, he said that he "would have supported having gay Scoutmasters, but at the same time, I fully accept the decision that was democratically arrived at by 1,500 volunteers from across the entire country."

In 2013, BSA allowed openly homosexual scouts for the first time. That policy reads: "No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone,” and took effect on January 1, 2014.

A year ago, Gates said he "was prepared to go further than the decision that was made" to allow gay Scout members, but decided that "to try to take last year's decision to the next step would irreparably fracture and perhaps even provoke a formal, permanent split in this movement - with the high likelihood neither side would subsequently survive on its own."

This week, though, Gates said that "events during the past year have confronted us with urgent challenges I did not foresee and which we cannot ignore."

"We cannot ignore growing internal challenges to our current membership policy, from some councils... in open defiance of the policy," said Gates. 

However, Gates' remarks may have come too late to prevent internal challenges from splitting BSA. Due to the 2013 vote, a number of Scouting alternatives launched, including the organization Trail Life USA. The latter group says it aims "to be the premier national character development organization for young men which produces Godly and responsible husbands, fathers, and citizens." 

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In January, Trail Life USA said it has "over 540 Troops in 48 states and the registration of nearly 20,000 adults and boys..."

Furthermore, the decision by BSA to allow gay scouts has led to criticism from people on both sides of the debate. Homosexual activists say the group did not go far enough, whereas many Christian parents and organizations say BSA is bowing to public pressure from homosexual advocates to affect its membership, despite its Christian roots.

Corporate pressure has also been aggressive. Last year, Walt Disney World threatened to not allow employees to volunteer for BSA as part of its VoluntEARS program in 2015 if the organization does not allow gay Scout leaders. Diversity Inc. reports that Merck & Co., Ernst & Young, Major League Baseball, and AT&T are just some of the other companies that have pressured BSA to further change its policies.

LifeSiteNews asked BSA whether Gates' comments indicated support for a totally flexible scout leadership policy, or just related to gay scout leaders, as well as whether BSA would take a stand against state and local laws that deny First Amendment rights to people who oppose same-sex "marriage."

BSA declined to comment, telling LifeSiteNews in a statement: "Dr. Gates’s remarks speak for themselves. ... It is important to note that no decisions were made during the National Annual Meeting. A decision is expected no later than the Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board meeting in October."

A video of Gates' remarks is below. The comments about membership standards begin at 8:40.

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