Church accused as nuns face expulsion
by Valerie Robinson ("Irish News," July 3, 2001)
Worldwide Religious News
THE Catholic Church was last night accused of reacting against women’s ordination with “greater force and rapidity” than paedophilia.
The accusation was made as two Catholic nuns faced expulsion from their orders after attending a Dublin conference on women’s ordination.
Sr Myra Poole and Sr Joan Chittister, from Britan and the US, were last night said to be “very anxious” as they waited to discover if they would be punished for speaking at the controversial conference.
The Vatican had been accused of using “scare tactics” to prevent members of religious communities from attending the first international conference on the ordination of women.
Catholic Church leaders had refused to publicly comment on the event which was organised by Women’s Ordination Worldwide (WOW) and the Ireland-based group Brothers and Sisters in Christ (Basic).
A spokesman last night reiterated that the Church would not make a statement on the row surrounding the conference.
Spokeswoman for Basic Soline Vatinel said the success of the conference, which was attended by 370 people from all over the world, had “exceeded our wildest dreams”.
Ms Vatinel claimed the Church took tougher action against members who advocated the ordination of women than priests and other religious who sexually abused children.
Referring to alleged threats made against Sr Joan and Sr Myra, Ms Vatinel said: “Rome has shown that it comes down harder on the discussion of the ordination of women than on paedophiles. It does not react with such force and rapidity to priests who are involved in abuse. That’s the reality.”
The spokeswoman said Sr Myra, a UK-based Notre Dame sister for forty-two years, had been “very, very distressed” by the threat of expulsion from her order.
The nun who for the past three years has been the international coordinator for WOW had only decided “after much prayer and reflection” to attend the conference on Saturday.
Ms Vatinel said WOW feared that Sr Joan, a member of the Benedictine Order in Erie, Pennsylvania, would be “made an example of” because of her high profile through her writings on theology and spirituality.
Sr Joan who received 135 signed letters of support from other Benedictine nuns is currently recovering from a recent surgical procedure.