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The Chittister Creed

Sister Joan Chittister is in the headlines again — big time this time. Some years ago the Holy See stated that the Catholic teaching disallowing priestesses is infallible and not even a matter for debate. But recently, Chittister spoke before a conference of Women’s Ordination Worldwide in Dublin, defying the Holy See. And, as of this writing, she’s gotten away with it. The Holy See had demanded that Chittister not speak at the conference and threatened her with punishment if she did, but she spoke anyway, and then the Holy See just let her off the hook. As Time magazine (Aug. 20) notes, “Rome blinked.”

Is this any way to run a Church? Imagine that you said to your teenage son, “There will be no foul language in this house,” and the next day he cursed out his sister in front of you, and you did nothing about it. Time quotes a ranking official of the Holy See as saying, “What ever happened to obedience? This is a cancer. Do you let it grow?” Good question!

Chittister wants a debate about having priestesses. But why would any Catholic want to debate an infallible doctrine unless he thought it needed to be changed or eliminated? Msgr. Timothy Thorburn, Chancellor of the Diocese of Lincoln, noted recently that Chittister is a member of Call to Action, whose platform officially calls for the ordination of women. In her keynote speech at a 1994 Call to Action conference, Chittister said (with reference to the priest shortage): “Faced with a choice between maleness and sacraments, the Church has chosen for maleness. Faced with a choice between sexuality and sacraments, the Church has chosen for celibacy. The new golden calf in the ecclesiastical desert is, therefore, an unmarried man…. We need idol smashers aplenty….” In other words, this “longtime feminist firebrand” (as Time calls her) wants to smash the all-male priesthood.

After her Dublin speech, Michael S. Rose noted that Chittister “is probably best known for her…advocacy of women’s ordination….” Long ago C.S. Lewis wrote that those who favor priestesses would deliver us into a “different religion.”

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