Ecclesiastical Misogyny | Letters | Chicago Reader

Ecclesiastical Misogyny 

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To the editors:

Robert McClory is to be commended for his excellent article about the recent cataclysmic changes at Saint Catherine-Saint Lucy in Oak Park. Since Mr. McClory quoted me in the article, however, I would like to take the opportunity to correct a few inaccuracies. First, in the group interview of November 4, 1991, I did not make the statement that Father John Carolan in effect wanted to subvert the rules by including persons and groups ordinarily stigmatized and neglected by the larger church. Since I was neither a personal friend nor a colleague, I would not have known this to be a deliberate strategy on his or anyone's part, although it is mostly true to say that in effect, Saint Catherine's offered a more welcoming ambience to the spiritually alienated than did some other local parishes. My estimation is that Father Carolan and the staff lived out the gospel by caring for the faith community around them, and in doing so fostered an atmosphere of acceptance and inclusion. Over time, Saint Catherine's became known as a place which had bypassed the authoritarian circuits of the institutional church. Being both a political and theological "lefty," I felt very grateful to Father Carolan and the staff.

Of much less importance is the fact that I am not currently a high school teacher. Having temporarily "retired" from university teaching, I have for six years given full time to caring for my young sons. Lastly, Sister Teresita consoled me during my father's illness, not that of my mother, who is deceased.

With those minor exceptions aside, I would like to add that Mr. McClory did well to place the Weind-Braxton drama in its proper context of historical ecclesiastical misogyny. In this way, Father Braxton's obnoxious attitudes and actions, as well as Sister Teresita's fate at Saint Catherine's, are seen as symptomatic of a familiar pathology. That vast governing bureaucracy, the hierarchy, practices gender-based apartheid which is essentially unjust and is in this age abhorrent and untenable.

Maria G. Rouphail, Ph.D.

Oak Park

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