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Catholic Conversations: Nuns on the Papal Transition

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

WNYC

As the Catholic Church begins the process of selecting its next leader, WNYC's Amy Eddings is hosting conversations with Catholics to find out what anxieties, concerns and hopes they have during this time of transition.  We're hearing this week from two nuns.

Sr. Susan Wilcox, 54, is a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph/Brentwood. The order, founded in France in 1650, "seeks to promote justice, to live lives of non-violence and to respond to the needs of our time." She entered religious life in 1999, at the age of 40. She currently teaches at St. Joseph's College in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn.

"There is a sense that women in Church are feeling that there's no place for them, that they are second class status in the Church. It's a structural problem that needs to be addressed. But ultimately, whatever decisions are made within the structure of the Church, it doesn't relieve any of us of our own baptismal call to live the Gospel of Jesus. When things get big, that's what we fall back on. It's our own responsibility."

Sr. John Mary, 38, is a Sister of Life. The order is a relatively new one, founded in 1991 by the late Cardinal John O'Connor, who headed the New York Archdiocese for 16 years until his death in 2000. Members of the order take a vow to "protect and enhance the sacredness of life." Sr. John Mary works at the order's Visitation Mission, which provides support and services to pregnant women.

 I think the deepest desires on the hearts of young people and young women is to know that they're loved, to have a sense of their dignity and worth.  Women all the time define themselves in the culture by their career, by their choices, by their image, by their achievements. and i think there's a radical message in the Christian faith [...] that a person's worth is infinite.  You are unique and unrepeatable in the eyes of God.  ... 
"I think the deepest desires on the hearts of young people and young women is to know that they're loved, to have a sense of their dignity and worth.  Women all the time define themselves in the culture by their career, by their choices, by their image, by their achievements.  I think there's a radical message in the Christian faith [...] that a person's worth is infinite.  You are unique and unrepeatable in the eyes of God."
What can the next Pope do to inspire women in the Church?  Leave us your thoughts below.

And tune in to Catholic Conversations on Saturdays during Lent and the papal conclave to hear what others are saying.

Catholic Conversations airs Saturday mornings during Weekend Edition Saturday from 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM on 93.9FM and from 8:00 AM - 11:00 AM on AM820.

Editors:

Julianne Welby

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Comments [6]

Brenda from Brooklyn from Flatbush

It is curious how predictably the lapsed Catholics point to Episcopalianism as the model for what we should do to "keep people in the Church." Yes, mainline Protestantism--that powerhouse of popularity. In the UK, church attendance by Anglicans is at about 6% and sinking; strangely, the population, especially the young, have not rewarded the female priests, gay bishops, and unremitting talk of Social Justice with anything but apathy. (As one writer said, they can get the same vibe by joining Greenpeace, without having to get up early Sunday morning.) Many, however, are being drawn to evangelical churches and even to Catholicism. Perhaps robust talk of God, sin, and redemption, rather than "relevance," is more powerfully attractive to the human heart than our culture is willing to admit.

Mar. 09 2013 08:53 AM
Sainted_Mother from Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY

Ed and Arthur, our G_d is just not that small.

The Roman Catholic Church Admin ... well. You fall right in line.

The church does change and HAS changed, and will CHANGE again.

The position of women in the church IS NOT FINE. If faith and faith practice did not keep me in the church, based on its admin alone, I would leave. The Episcopalians DO have the right idea. Jesus SAID NOTHING on many of the practices that the old church holds near and dear: keeping women out of the hierarchy, restricting the hierarchy in its life choices, homosexuality, and birth control.

Jesus said we are to love one another as he loved us. He said we are to be good stewards of our lives and talents, to care for the poor, to care for children. He said NOTHING about the sex of the people who do all that work, nor about who they sleep with, except to say "be faithful to your vows" ... he said to pray, and I do, constantly, that the corporate church will change its collective mind as to how to govern its faithful, how to be more welcoming and kind, and leave the judgment to G_d.

Peace be with you, and G_d's blessing be upon you.

Mar. 06 2013 06:39 PM
Colleen

Oh Arthur - it is people like you that make it so easy to leave. Deny deny deny - sure - the Catholic Church is "just fine". No need to change or evolve at all. Right.

Mar. 06 2013 05:25 PM
Arthur Dallas from Bronx, NY

Dear Colleen,

A good decision for you! Congratulations!

Now, leave.

No, no, don't worry, I'm sure we Catholics can make still it without your help.

Mar. 06 2013 04:16 PM
Colleen

Priests need to be able to marry and women need to be able to become priests. That is the only way I would ever consider going back to the Catholic church. In the meantime, I will baptize my child in the Episcopal Church where women have a real voice and can be true leaders. I have many friends who were raised Catholic, I went to Catholic schools, and all of us have left the church. The pope and the leaders are completely out of touch with all but the oldest of their congregations. It is sad.

Mar. 06 2013 10:29 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Hurray for the Sisters of Life! The position of women in the church is fine, they hold positions in all levels of administration, etc. The dissidents aren't satisfied, but that's not a surprise.

Mar. 06 2013 05:48 AM

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