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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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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
The Editors

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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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