Thursday, June 14, 2012

Christiane Amanpour Interviews Sr. John Chittister: "Problem Is not Radical Feminism, It's Radical Patriarchy"

Christiane Amanpour interviews Sr. Joan Chittister, who explains with her usual passion, intelligence, and clarity the followingabout the Vatican attack on American religious women:

. . . The problem is not radical feminism, it's radical patriarchy.  That's where exclusion is built right into the DNA.  Women are nowhere on any of these commissions, on the writing of any of these documents.  So how would they know what a woman's answer is to these things?  

One of the points on which Amanpour presses Chittister is the issue that Cardinal Levada has now labeled "product identity": if Catholic religious women represent the Catholic "product," aren't they obliged to do what the men who (we're asked to imagine, it seems) produce and control and brand the Catholic product tell them to do?  (For incisive commentary on Levada's phrase and the corporatist roots of the phrase--and, by implication, the corporatist CEO mentality that now dominates the imagination of the men running the church--see Colleen Baker at Enlightened Catholicism and Barbara at Fur-licity.)

On this point, too, Chittister is crystal clear: what dominates the thinking of the sisters is not the corporate mentality of CEOs, but that of the gospels:

The sisters will tell you that their corporate mind comes out of the gospel . . . .

With good coverage of the attack on LCWR by one major news outlet after another in recent days, the media seem to be intent on proving Professor Margaret Susan Thompson correct as she notes in the Tablet recently that modern media have made it impossible for the hierarchy to control the scope, content, or direction of discussions of the Vatican attack on American religious women.  When there are women with the breadth of vision and expertise of Joan Chittister, who are very capable of thinking and opening their mouths to speak the truth, at the disposal of journalists trying to understand what the men of the church are doing to the women of the church, I think Professor Thompson is absolutely correct.

Apologies to Sr. Joan and readers: I managed to get Sr. Joan's surname wrong in about half of this posting, including its title, before I realized the mistake and corrected it.

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