Volume > Issue > Worshiping the Idol of 'Woman's Experience'

Worshiping the Idol of ‘Woman’s Experience’


By Anne Barbeau Gardiner | October 2009
Anne Barbeau Gardiner, a Contributing Editor of the NOR, is Professor Emerita of English at John Jay College of the City University of New York. She has published on Dryden, Milton, and Swift, as well as on Catholics of the 17th century.

This month marks the 25th anniversary of the notorious full-page advertisement in the October 7, 1984, New York Times, in which nearly a hundred Catholics, including some two dozen nuns, tried to boost the presidential campaign of Democrats Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro by claiming that there is a “diversity” of lawful opinion about abortion inside the Catholic Church. When the Vatican objected, many of these nuns played a cat-and-mouse game with Rome for nearly two years. In A Just and True Love, a collection of essays published earlier this year by the University of Notre Dame, Sr. Anne Patrick, S.N.J.M., states that twenty-two of the sisters held out until they were able to “clarify” their views “in a way that both their consciences and Rome could accept.” She adds that they managed to “retain community membership without backing down from their claim that signing the statement had been appropriate in view of the situation in the United States at the time.”

But two nuns, Barbara Ferraro and Patricia Hussey, grew more radical as time went on and ended up resigning from the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur to help found new pro-abortion groups. They even wrote a book about their descent into the Culture of Death entitled No Turning Back: Two Nuns’ Battle with the Vatican over Women’s Right to Choose (1990). Their work reveals the grave danger that “Catholic feminism” poses today.

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