Getting back to some of your suggestions for topics… This one comes from Kokopelli25:
How do you deal, as a woman, with the church’s view of women on equally valuable yet excluded from the “high-prestige” posts the church has to offer? It would certainly turn me off.
Thanks for the topic, Koko! This certainly is an issue with which many of us women religious struggle mightily (and you may have noticed that it came up in another recent post.) In a way, it comes down to whether or not one feels that the best way to bring about change is to work from within the institution. After all, the Roman Catholic church is my church, too! Johannes B. Metz writes that religious communities are
a kind of shock therapy instituted by the Holy Spirit for the Church as a whole. [Followers of Christ: the Religious Life in the Church, trans. Thomas Linton (NY: Paulist Press, 1978).]
So when sisters, either individually or collectively, attempt to call Church leaders to task on issues of justice and abuse of power, we are not necessarily being “disobedient” – we might just be being faithful to our prophetic and corrective role on behalf of the entire Church, often at great cost.
Having said that, I go back and forth sometimes between feeling I need to stay in the struggle and feeling I cannot stay in the Church. If it were not for my religious community and my parish community, I wonder if I would still be a practicing Catholic.
For an example of some of what I struggle with, read this article about Sr. Louse Lears, who has been placed on interdict by the Archbishop of St. Loius, who immediately after was transferred to Rome.
What makes it especially difficult for me personally is that to many lay Catholics who are not in religious communities and to those outside the Church, being a woman religious is perceived as being a part of the power structure, when in reality, we are often merely the recipients of draconian punishments for our “disobedience.” (It’s even a risk for me to write this post.) I’ve often told friends that at times, it is far easier to come out as a lesbian than to come out as an RC nun. And I’m only half joking…
Still, while we women religious do not have a strong voice in the institutional power structure, we have tremendous personal and communal power, that when rooted in discerment and fidelity to the Gospel of Jesus, is desperately needed in our Church and our world. May we not be bullied into fearing to claim that God-given power for bringing about communion on all levels.
How about some of the rest of you women religious (or anyone else, for that matter)? I welcome your views – feel free to remain anonymous (and play nice) – I totally understand!