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Eminence, the emeritis cardinal archbishop of HGN

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Bishop Joan Houk - Womanbishop
Speaks at Vanderbilt Divinty School

UPDATE -- February 19, 2010 -- Video of Bishop Joan Houk's talk at Vanderbilt University Divinity School

I was at Bishop Joan Houk’s talk last evening at Vanderbilt. It was really my first up close experience with the issue of the ordination of women in the Roman Catholic Church. I came away very impressed.

Bishop Joan impressed me, first of all, as a woman with both feet firmly planted on the ground. She seems to have done all things well. She is still very happily married celebrating fifty years with her husband. She talked about her six children and grandchildren and now two great grandchildren. She has taught grade school. She has been involved in the mission of the Roman Catholic Church working in priestless counties in Kentucky. She has the academic qualifications expected of priesthood candidates today.

I think I was most impressed when she departed from the prepared text and talked of her own passion for the equality of women. She spoke of her experience working in a women’s shelter with battered, abused and raped women. She linked this experience to the Roman Catholic Church and the many ways in which the church directly and indirectly treats women as inferior. The church is complicit in the abuse of women.

Bishop Joan seemed challenged and said she would think about a comment made to her from a man in the audience who is a lawyer suggesting she needed to get tougher in her approach to the church. You know, maybe knocking the bishop’s hat off. She offered that this was not her approach. What she did say, and what resonated with me, is that what really needs to be done is to get the story out. Bishop Joan and the other womenbishops and womenpriests are doing a ministry rooted in the gospel.

This is what also impressed me. Bishop Joan talked about how she already was doing the things a priest would do before she was ordained. Those things were rooted in her day to day experience, like the day she went to visit one of her sick sixth grader’s in the hospital and prayed for him and laid hands on him even though a “real” priest was in the background. She is the one who had the personal connection with the student. I think our present idea of ordination and who can do priestly things is too constricted.

Benedict and some of his bishops can try to build higher and higher walls to keep women like Bishop Joan Houk out. I see a rising tide against all these walls. I’d like to call it grace or the work of the Holy Spirit. This was a very good, even historic evening, at least for me.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Women's Ordination -- Bishop Andrea M. Johnson

UPDATE--February 10, 2010--Bishop Andrea Johnson is snowbound. Another womanbishop, Bishop Joan Houk will be substituting for her.

Here is a story about the event at the blog of the Nashville Scene...

Bishop Andrea M Johnson will be coming to speak in Nashville on the ordination of women to the priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church.

Bishop Johnson was ordained a womanpriest in 2007 and a womanbishop in 2009.

She will be speaking at Vanderbilt University on Wednesday evening February 10, 2010 at 8:00 PM in the Arts Room of the Divinity School.

This event is being sponsored by Anawim , the Vanderbilt Office of Women’s Concerns, the Vanderbilt Carpenter Program, the Vanderbilt Office of Religious Life, and the Society of St. Cornelius (DIV Catholic student organization).

A Follow-up Disscussion

On Thursday afternoon February 18th. from 4:00 PM until 5:30 PM there will be a follow-up panel discussion on the broader topic of women’s ordination in other denominations. The panel will include Professors Patout Burns (Catholic studies chair), Doug Meeks (Methodist studies chair), Ted Smith (PC-USA clergy and very active in Covenant Network), Eileen Campbell-Reed (her disertation was on the effects of the controversy over women's ordination in the SBC on women seeking ordination; she is also active in progressive Baptist circles on lesbian and gay ordination). Ellen T. Armour who is the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Chair in Feminist Theology and Director of the Carpenter Program in Religion, Gender, and Sexuality will be the panel moderator. The location for this discussion will be announced later.