Just Google Sister Louise Akers and see the uproar. Sister is a believer in women’s ordination in the Catholic Church, as many men and women are in this time of complex, ongoing, fast paced change. I guess there is one way of dealing with these confusing and difficult times, and that is forbidding and punishing people who disagree with you. It doesn’t usually seem the responsible and compassionate way, and it is likely to result in backlash and demoralization. There are no easy answers when one is in leadership, but when one is confronted with one of the key issues in our modern church, it would appear that this method should only be used as a last resort for very serious situations. I really don’t think this situation qualifies, and if it does, I think millions of Catholics at nearly every level of leadership in the Church would need to be banned, removed, silenced. Here are the headlines in Lebanon Ohio’s Western Star:
How do you reward a Catholic sister for nearly 40 years of service to the cause of peace and justice?
If you’re the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, you tell her to shut up.
This is what the Archbishop actually said:
“It is a bishop’s responsibility to provide authentic and orthodox Catholic teaching in his diocese. Persons who are not in accord with the teaching of the church should not expect to be allowed to teach catechetical leaders or others in the name of the church.”
“We don’t hire people to teach only infallible doctrine; we hire people to teach what’s in the Catechism of the Catholic Church,” he explained. “As a result, Sister Louise may not teach in the name of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati or at any venue for which the archdiocese is responsible.” (Catholic Telegraph)
I’m glad I’m not a bishop, it is challenging enough being a parish priest in this day and age when so many issues are being debated – and opinions abound. But, I wonder at the action of Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk who barred Sister Akers from teaching catechetical leaders and others in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Maybe, this is the way he felt in conscience he had to deal with it, but I am left wondering and thinking in my own conscience that there has to be a better way. In the long run I believe an action like this does far more harm than it does good. People learn to fear and whisper when this type of reprimand take place – nothing really gets resolved, feelings get hurt, people of faith become scandalized, some shut-up, others get louder, the debate continues, etc…! And, let us remember, this is not an infallible doctrine of the church, as the archbishop has pointed out in his above comment.