Send in the clowns

October 25, 2007

“Systems that disempower the laity” —

Nun to speak in Palo Alto on how to resist “patriarchal approaches to church leadership”

Burlingame Mercy Sister Eloise Rosenblatt, who gave a keynote address for the Northern California Lay Convocation at St. Francisco’s St. Mary’s Cathedral in June, will speak on “Countering and Challenging Patriarchy in the Church” on Oct. 27 at Our Lady of the Rosary Church Hall in Palo Alto.

The event, sponsored by the Thomas Merton Center in Palo Alto, was advertised in the Oct. 16 Valley Catholic, the newspaper of the San Jose diocese.

According to the Oct. 14 Thomas Merton Center bulletin, Sister Eloise will address the question: “How do progressive Catholics, who wish to stay members of the Roman church, change the entrenched patriarchal church systems that disempower the laity in general, and women in particular?” Sister “will take a broad analytical approach and recognize how subordination works culturally and doctrinally,” said the bulletin. “She proposes long-term strategies for resisting and reforming patriarchal approaches to church leadership, by invoking the church’s own teaching.”

Sister Eloise, both a feminist theologian and a doctor of law, directs ELOROS Inc. (Education, Law, and Religious Organizations), which, says the bulletin, is “a non-profit organization that provides parish inservice education about employment issues and California’s mandatory antidiscrimination training.”

In the past, Sister Eloise has addressed other “progressive” gatherings. She offered workshops at the 1998 and 2005 Call to Action West Coast Conferences on the topics, “Keeping your church job,” church law, and clergy sexual exploitation of adult women. Call to Action is a group that promotes public dissent against Church teaching on women’s ordination, homosexuality, birth control, and other matters.

In 1997, Sister Eloise was a workshop presenter at the Catholic Women Network’s Annual Conference, where attendees learned about eastern spiritualities, “Goddess qualities,” mandalas, and “Holistic/Ecofeminist Spirituality.”

In her 2005 book, ”While the Bridegroom is with them”: Marriage, Family, Gender and Violence in the Gospel of Matthew, Marianne Blickenstaff describes Sister Eloise’s interpretation of the parable of the wise and foolish virgins in Matthew’s Gospel. According to Blickenstaff, Sister Eloise sees the parable as directed at women in the “Matthean community,” exhorting women to choose to be “‘wise’ by conforming to certain behaviors prescribed by those in power (whom Rosenblatt identifies as primarily the men in the community.” The “choice between ‘wise’ and ‘foolish’” for Sister Eloise, says Blickenstaff, “serves not only to keep the women in line, but to divide the women against each other, and thus reduce any power they might have had as a group.”

Last June’s convocation at St. Mary’s cathedral, Sr. Eloise said, showed how Catholics now voice their opinion in the Church through conversation. “Some of the hotly debated issues” she had heard “involve substantive unresolved questions of Church life – women’s incorporation in ministry and decision making, the survival of the priesthood and the rule of celibacy, the Church’s teaching on human sexuality, laity having a voice in the selection of local bishops… protecting freedom of speech… promotion of a collegial and collaborative leadership style between hierarchy and laity with genuine consultation with laity” on a variety of issues.


6 Responses to “Send in the clowns”

  1. Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ said

    How horrible!

  2. Athanasius said

    I find that rather interesting that the laity are “disempowered”. If we think of it another way, laity can say whatever we want on blogs without fear of any type of recrimination, whereas clerics have to watch what they say or they could end up in a psychiatric treatment center wearing antlers and clown noses. That sounds like a lot of power to me!

  3. You are in my prayers, kiddo said

    Ten thousand nuns — arms linked, singing, “Let there be peace on earth…,” — surrounded Fr. LWG’s home.

    Although the nuns rang the doorbell several times, the door remained unopened. However, a window opened slightly. And from that window boomed an unidentified male voice.

    “Fr. LWG has left the building.”

    The crowd of nuns remained, singing.

    Again, the voice boomed, “Father has left the building!”

    And still, the nuns remained.

    This scenario was played over and over again until a single unidentified male voice joined the nuns in song.

    “I thought they’d never leave,” said Oreo.

    “They don’t like my singing,” said the unidentified male.

  4. Tom in Vegas said

    You know, I have no problems with individuals who want to keep the Church looking forward by sparking healthy discussions on topics that might involve the her. One issue that the Church should remain immutable on is the abortion issue. If the Church doesn’t defend un-born human life, she would no longer be fit or capable to pass down the Christian Gospel that Jesus Christ Himself entrusted her with. Some things you DON’T change.

    As for Sister Dingy, I have no respect for the nun with the big mouth. If she or anybody doesn’t like the rules that are in effect, why not go somewhere else??? Aren’t the Anglicans or Presbyterians or United Church of Christ more appealing for such a subversive dissident like her?

    What is equally disturbing is that she apparently received permission to babble at Catholic Churches and institutions from people who should be protecting the faith!


  5. Athanasius said

    That’s just it though, if you go somewhere else, you still have this institution that tells you that you are wrong. They just can’t take that. So rather than be told you are wrong, they would much rather hear they are right from the ever dwindling chorus of “We are Church” and other Spirit of Vatican II hippie children. So they wish to change the Church to reflect themselves instead of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  6. Liam said

    Oh boy, where do I start. Political buzzwords, oppressed masses, patriarchal dominance. Strongly worded earnest speeches, it’s national socialism, only as a pillow fight instead of blitzkrieg! And the Sudetenland is a starbuck’s in Berkley. No brown shirts this time, the uniform of the day is doubleknit polyester from the social workers who don’t date line.

    All this carping about patriarchal dominance. Since, oh all of history, women have done the vast majority of child rearing and educating you’d think they could have inculcated the young with a feminist adgenda. Even Mao understood this, he didn’t worry too much about idealogical converts. He grew his own.

    Sisters’ false equivilency between the sexes falls down in her own argument. “we need to break down these male institutions ’cause we’re just the same (good) as they are.” “Except we can’t, which means we’re not.” So now your victims having been “disempowered.” Ah…Power to the people?

    I apologize for being so disjointed but, people like her make my feel good hurt.

    Get thee to a nunnery (a real one this time).

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