Abuse of Power in the Catholic Church: Undoing Almost Fifty Years of Progress – Part I, by Michele Stopera Freyhauf

“Now the Vatican says that nuns are too interested in “the social Gospel” (which is the Gospel), when they should be more interested in Gospel teachings about abortion and contraception (which do not exist).  Nuns were quick to respond to the AIDS crisis, and to the spiritual needs of gay people—which earned them an earlier rebuke from Rome. They were active in the civil rights movement.  They ran soup kitchens.” —  Roman Catholic Women Priests (via Facebook)

I once had a conversation with my New Testament Professor about the issue of women ordination.  He was optimistic and thought there might be a possibility that change was in the air – that was six years ago.  The basis for his statement had to do with language.  Of the journals and articles read, he felt the language used was more inclusive and that once people adjust to this discrete change in gender inclusive language, change for women in the Church can come.

He was right about change coming.  The result was not equality and ordination for women, but an attempt to silence and force these women back into their habits and cloisters. Continue reading “Abuse of Power in the Catholic Church: Undoing Almost Fifty Years of Progress – Part I, by Michele Stopera Freyhauf”

The Cross of Reality: The Linguistic Hiddenness of Naming Rape By Cynthia Garrity-Bond

In a recent Facebook thread, I read with interest the 2010 National Catholic Reporter article (“Women Won’t Let Us Go”) about the four American churchwomen, Maryknoll Srs. Ita Ford and Maura Clarke, Ursuline nun Dorothy Kazel and laywomen Jean Donovan on the 30th anniversary of their murders while working in El Salvador.

What instantly drew me in was the raw language of their ordeal, in which each of the four where raped, tortured and then shot to death. The word “rape” jumped off the page as if a foreign term, and I wondered why I felt this way. Not until I exhausted my search on the women did I understand my heightened surprise: in nearly all of the Google searches, the word, “abused” and not “raped” appeared in the telling of their story. Again, why the softening of the act through the use of the term abused? While I applaud NCR contributor Cheryl Wittenauer’s use of the word rape, I’m confused why so many others seemed unable or unwilling to call it what it is: rape.

When the six Jesuits from El Salvador were executed, the following formula was used to describe what occurred: “Date + six Jesuits, + “along with a housekeeper and her daughter killed by members of the El Salvadoran military.” In his recounting of the death of his Jesuit community, Jon Sobrino is one of the few who names the usually unnamed women: Julia Elba Ramos, 42, cook and housekeeper and Cecilia Ramos, 15, her daughter. Sobrino1 gives further details of the killings by informing the reader of the thirty men dressed in military uniform each carrying machine guns. The first three Jesuits were taken outside and executed. The remaining three Jesuits plus the women were then killed in their beds. Let’s step back from this gruesome scene to imagine what could be missing details of the deaths of Julia and her daughter Cecilia. While I have attempted to uncover the reality of that night, I have not been able to verify my suspicions, that before the women were executed, the military men first raped them, as was their custom. If I am correct, why the silence about their rape all these years later? Does their rape somehow lessen their lives and deaths? Are they considered martyrs as well? Continue reading “The Cross of Reality: The Linguistic Hiddenness of Naming Rape By Cynthia Garrity-Bond”

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