And I say that the Pope is a wonderful image of stability, but that stability
is the center of a hurricane. The sky is blue, everything is calm, but the
reality is he's part of a tremendous crisis in the church, because the average
person, worldwide, does not believe him, in terms of sexual teaching. We're at
a kind of Copernican crisis, where sexuality is, from the Church's point of
view, and from the pope's point of view, the world is flat. And that this
teaching is the center of the universe. But that's not what's happening.
People, and the experience of people, does not experience the truth as the
solution. The main body of the church does not believe the church's teaching on
Then we have a lot of work to do, don't we? At least I do! This is my work. And
I do it first of all by helping people understand what the church's teaching on
sexuality is. Which is that we were made in the image and likeness of God, and
every sexual act is meant to be an image of the love of Christ for the church
-- faithful, committed, covenanted, open to children.
There aren't any other kinds that work. And then what I do on the other side,
is to go to the journal articles, and show that the sexuality the world is
preaching is having devastating effects. We are in the midst of an epidemic of
sexually-transmitted diseases. One parent families. Broken-hearted girls. I've
held these broken-hearted girls in my arms, I know what the world's morality
does to the human heart, to the woman's heart. And we have the truth about
sexuality. Where it is meant to be, where God made it. And it's so beautiful.
And alright, if there's only thirty of us -- and it's not true, because there
are thousands of people with me, trying to do this -- and the media's fighting
us, you know there are people who are opposing us. But we are not going to give
up. It's not going to change. When the next millennium comes, the Catholic
Church's teaching on sexuality will not have changed.
And it really doesn't matter if there are thirty or thirty million, it's a
mistaken, rather myopic, I think American idea that somehow democracy is the
answer to faith, that if we can only vote on this then we can determine truth.
And I think, to me it's analogous to what St Augustus said about the idea that
if truth is something I can determine in my own brain, then what a small truth
that is. It really doesn't matter if 99.9% of the Catholics and Christians
think, Hey, this is not a democracy, it's based on truth. Jesus did not take an
opinion poll when he was on earth and today he's not taking opinion polls to
ask what people's opinions are and to say, Gosh, you know everyone's unhappy
with this so we've got to change it. Truth does not change.
Well, but the truth of sexuality is not the truth that the church is
Of course it is!
Oh no. No. It does not take into account the genetics. It does not take into
account developmental. It does not take into account the sexuality inherent in
the person, man and woman.
Of course it does! Of course it does! And that's the most exciting thing. And
the more --
That's not the way I read the Pope's teaching...
Well I guess I'm the one here who is married, and I was married before I was a
Catholic. So I had an experience of the world's way on this issue. And then I
became a Catholic and I listened to the Holy Father, and I have now had the
opposite experience. So I can speak from my personal experience. When I
accepted the Holy Father's teaching, the consistent teaching of the Catholic
Church, and began to practice it, I was furious at how I'd been lied to before.
Because I saw that what was -- The change that happened in my marital
relationship, in terms of respect, in terms of love, in terms of who I was as a
person. And I was thrilled. And it was so exciting because I truthfully -- it's
not being promoted the way it should be--I had to go to some woman friend, and
she explained it to me very delicately, and it was wonderful. It works.
When I say that it works, I know personally from my life that this teaching
works, and I know from my daughters-in-law, I know from my women friends. I see
the joy in them, the joy in their marriage, the respect that their husbands
When you say 'it' you mean natural family planning?
Yes. The whole church's teaching, on openness and generosity to life. And when
I see the other --the use of artificial means of contraception-- I see a NO. I
didn't understand the teaching really. I thought the church said "Well you
shouldn't separate the procreative from the unitive". And what I found out it
really meant is that you can't. When you are -- If in the middle of the most
intimate act of your marriage is a great big NO, which is what artificial
contraception is. That NO spreads out into everything. And you get unwanted
children, because you're having an intimate relationship with a NO. And I know
what the failure rates of the various forms of artificial contraception have,
and everyone that fails, you get a child that wasn't wanted. That doesn't
happen among the people I know. You know. It's this joyous sense of "We're
going to accept that our love makes something". It's marvelous, it's exciting,
it is something that works. All I can tell to people is "Try it." Because the
tragedy of this age is that we have a whole generation of people who talk a lot
about sex and who have never had real sexual intimacy. Because every sexual act
contains in it a NO.
...It's different in my tradition, in the Baptist tradition. Once you are
married in a relationship of love and commitment, there is no other
justification needed for the expression of that love sexually. That that is a
God-given gift, the sexuality between man and woman, and there is no NO in
that. In and of itself, it is all YES. If there is love, if there is respect
and commitment and honor, it is all YES. And it has nothing to do with whether
that possibly or will result in a child...
I remember when I first read Love and Responsibility it was in the early
'90s, and I kept flipping back to the front of the book to say, "Wait a minute,
he wrote this in the 1060s?" This is as if he's looking back t o say this is
what happened, and he was saying no, based on who the human person is, based on
who a man is and who a woman is, if you go about living your lives this way,
taking sexuality away from what God, the creator of people, has created it for,
you're going to see the carnage. And we have. We've seen abortion skyrocket,
we've seen pornography and abuse of women become prevalent. It's a real fear
for many women in this society. And so I think he's worth listening to on these
issues, because I think he speaks the truth...
SISTER MARA FAULKNER
My mother had six children in seven years, and it almost broke her and broke
her marriage. And I would never have said, "God will give her the grace to have
child after child after child". And - I can hardly talk about this: I remember
my father sitting in the kitchen until 2, 3 in the morning, so there wouldn't
be another child in this family that couldn't support them in any way. And ...
it breaks my heart. And the illogic of saying that... I mean I agree with a lot
of what you said about contemporary sexual morality, I think it's barren and
destructive as well, in many ways. But I think that artificial birth control,
as well as the rhythm birth, you know, natural family planning, if you want to
say it has a NO at the heart of it, they both do, if you're going to follow the
logic through to the end, or neither one does....
The history behind the church's teaching on sexuality is not a pretty picture.
It is based on pre-scientific thinking that male sperm was virtually human,
that a young boy masturbating was doing something worse than rape, because
there was no natural conception here. You look at that now and can see alright,
that teaching came out of a pre-scientific era. But we know better now.
The Holy Father teaches about family life without having had a family life. I
respect your saying that you can adopt this natural family planning and it
works for you. You are following your conscience. But please allow other
Catholics, hundreds and thousands and millions of Catholics, who have also
followed their consciences and say it doesn't work for them. And that
following the church's teachings has put a terrible strain on their marriages.
I really have to say, it isn't that they say it doesn't work for them, it's
that they haven't been told how to do it, and they haven't tried it. They have
been told, "Don't worry about it" by the media and by, unfortunately, the
silence where there should have been voices. And now we have to say "Look, if
we've made mistakes in the past, we're very sorry to the Holy Father for
everything we've done wrong in the past, but this is where we are now, and this
will work". '
And the thing is, what is temptation? Temptation is when you look at two things
and you say, "Here's two good things. And the only way I can get those two good
things is to commit an act which is wrong. And so I guess I have to commit the
act that's wrong". And that's temptation, that's the essence of temptation, is
SISTER NANCY HYNES
Excuse me, but I don't think it's wrong. And the church's teaching, in the
Middle Ages, taught that the sexual act itself, within marriage, was still
somewhat of a sin. And so we have shifted away from that. This is what I wanted
to say before. We've had two thousand years of discussion of the highest men in
our church, discussing a Just War theory. Which is a matter of life and death.
Okay? We have had zip on birth control, on celibacy, on women's ordination.
They cut off the discussion of that. It is my firm belief that if popes had
been women, able to bear children, we'd have two thousand years of discussion
about this. And we'd have had less about the Just War theory. And it took them
two thousand years to discover that wars are not just, and to come out against
So to say that we have always had the truth -- I mean Augustin spent eighteen
years with his mistress, and it was fine for him to say "Now we should cut off
all relations", once he'd had eighteen years. I mean, excuse me, I love
Augustin, it just gets me a little bit tired when he talks about celibacy and
how women sort of lure men into sin.
But he's speaking from experience!
Well, that doesn't say much about women, does it? I mean the assumption being
again that we are the ones who are of sin, and the men are perfectly fine and
in fact in his letter to priests on Holy Thursday, 1995 I think, when he tells
priests how they are to relate to women as mothers, and/or sisters, and builds
a spiritual case for that. Then he goes on all these paragraphs, about how the
woman as mother and the woman as sister, and how they're to relate. And then
toward the end of the letter he says, "Now we want to pray for our priests who
have gone astray, because", and I'm paraphrasing here slightly, but I'm pretty
much on the mark. Essentially it said, "Because they have succumbed to a woman.
A woman has pulled them away from priesthood".
So we spend three quarters of the letter talking about relating to women as
sisters and mothers, and then we have this thing that says, and those priests
who have fallen away, whose fault is it? it's a fault, and it's a woman's
This Pope has said some beautiful things about women. But he has also said some
very significant things about women being at fault. One, you relate to in terms
of that letter. Also he spoke to a woman who was going to the Conference on
Women, I believe in Beijing. And it's well-publicized that he said to her,
"Women are the cause of men's failings".
He also said, about 1990, in a public statement, that there can be lustful sin
within marriage. And the Pope's basis, the whole theology, but the basis for
it, is in his 1960 book, Love and Responsibility, where both the things
are said that are philosophically underlined, "Humanae Vitae," and all the
teaching on contraception. But also, if you read that very closely, he de-sexes
women, and de-sexes men. He talks about Man generically, abstractly. And he
talks about sex as an urge, not as a quality of being, as a God-given quality
of being. And out of that comes this contradiction, where women are exalted,
but they're blamed at the same time.
But that's the whole human condition. We are exalted, we are made to be
children of God, and we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
Are we saying that only men have sinned? Oh I will admit men have sinned--But
certainly the Holy Father has never said that, nor ever could say that!
I hear these sorts of comments and I read the original text, and I just do not
see any negation of my sexuality, of what it means -- I mean how can you be a
mother, the Virgin Mother Mary excepted, unless you are united with your
husband in an act of intimacy? This is a beautiful and wonderful thing. And
this idea that somehow the church blames women, is just reading very 20th
century ideology back across the ages.
No it is not. It's so well-documented in 'The Hammer of Witches,' which was
the official teaching of the church, and in seminaries, says this explicitly
over and over. And you, as our art historian, who knows the ceiling of the
Sistine Chapel, and Adam and Eve are there, and Eve has the apple, and she's
taking it from the serpent. And the serpent is clearly a serpent, except that
it has the head and the torso of a very well-developed woman. So that the art
is so clear, that the woman, even the devil-woman, is giving to the human
woman, who then gives to the man the apple.
Well I don't know what Michelangelo's theology was, and he I believe is the one
that painted the Sistine Chapel, but the Holy Father says terrific things about
human sexuality and what it is to be a man and what it is to be a woman, and
the complimentarity of the two in his letter to women, on the dignity and
vocation of women. That should perhaps be a document that we table here,
because it says great things about a woman's sexuality being lived out either
in her motherhood, in her physical motherhood or in the motherhood of the
spirit, for those of us who God has called to be celibate. We're mothers in
either sense, if we live our vocations right, and there is a spousal love that
comes with that, the Holy Father says that. He's very positive on the sexuality
I have to disagree because I have read the Holy Father, not only in the English
translation but also in the original Polish. And I read him very carefully. And
he says wonderful things about love, but he does not define love the way any of
us would. He defines it as 'an act of the will of benevolence'. For him, what
we would call love involves desire, pleasure, joy. He describes that in terms
of concupiscence, and he says that concupiscence takes away the crystal clarity
of love. His is a very cerebral concept of love. And when people hear him talk
about love and then come away with his conclusions, they're confused. It's
because of his really very peculiar definitions.
I found -- and he calls that letter that you're referring to a meditation,
which I think is interesting, it's not an encyclical. And when he refers to it
in the letter he says, "My meditation on", you know, "the vocation the dignity
of women". And it's either virginal, or motherhood. But it does seem to me,
it's kind of like looking through a lens with gauze on it, it's very soft and
romantic and not, there's no earthiness in it.
Have you read the conclusion?
I have read it.
Where he says, "Let's give thanks for all the women who are working hard, who
are suffering, who are struggling?" Precisely! We all do, it's the human
condition, we sacrifice for the things that we love, and that's a beautiful
But, when it comes to the test of equality, it fails. When it comes to the test
of power, when it comes to the test of sharing equally the power, the Gospel of
St Paul, that there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or
free, there is no longer male or female, but we are all one in Christ. That
essential element of the Gospel -- and I think that's absolutely essential to
the Gospel -- I think that sexism was historically a distortion of the Gospel.
And I think that that core is not realized. And I think that's the storm that
separates and surrounds all the calmness of the tradition, and all the
certainty that this is the absolute truth.
And the Pope speaks to the sin of sexism in that letter on women, where he
says, "Because of original sin, men will have a tendency to dominate". Because
of sin, not because of anything good. And that original sin destroyed that
original unity of men and women in which they were both created equal. And he
said because of sin that's why it happens. Not because of the way God created
us, because of man's fault.
So why can't you recognize it in the Catholic church? Do you say there's no
sexism in the Catholic church? Are you saying that our all-male leadership in
the curia is in no way sexist?
I think that human beings have faults, I don't think the church has faults.
But the church is made up of human beings.
The church is inspired by God.
And the church is not at fault?
The human beings within the church have faults. It's beyond just us. If it was
just us getting together to form a corporation, that would be a very
interesting concept. But the church is from God. And God is not just us.
That's a very unbiblical concept. The church is the people of God, those who
are called together. It's the bride of Christ because we are the disciples of
Christ. But we are the church.
And this was taught at the Second Vatican Council, that to be the Bride of
Christ or the Body of Christ means to be the disciples of Christ. We are
followers and we are human beings. And the early fathers of the church spoke of
the church as being very sinful. The early fathers of the church spoke of the
church being a whore, because of its sinfulness. And therefore to idealize the
church--what happens is that we come to idealize, it's not us, but some
abstraction out there. And of course it's the majesterium, it's the leadership
that speaks of it, as if they are above fault.
We are a very human church, and we have had very human popes, and a very human
curia. And part of our right as Christians is to be able to criticize it and
to point out the sinfulness. That is a very ancient Catholic tradition.
In 2040 world population will begin to decline precipitously. And this is what
all of the people who are the experts in this know. And it is aging rapidly. We
are at a very, very crucial time in the history of the world. But even if you
gave me 47 million reasons why we should commit sins to save the world. I mean
that's what people who want to sin always say: "I've got to sin to save the
The assumption that you are making is that birth control is a sin. Now,
Catholics accepted that for a long time because popes said it. But then after
the Council, with so many changes, we began asking questions. And we said,
"Why? Why is it a sin?"
And the Holy Father's explained it!
The Holy Father brought together experts from all over the world: bishops,
SISTER NANCY HYNES
...Lay people. Married people.
...And they talked. And their conclusion was that birth control was allowable.
There was nothing in the tradition that would say that we cannot change that.
One could understand why historically the church was against birth control, but
today, those reasons no longer exist.
And Pope Paul VI did not go along with his tremendous body of experts because
of one argument, the so-called ecclesial argument, the argument of the Church.
Namely, if we say that we can allow birth control--this is what the Anglican
bishops said, way back in 1930, And Pope Pious XI said "no." If we change the
teaching on birth control, we would have to say that the Holy Spirit was with
the married bishops in the Anglican church, and not with the Pope.
And the only argument they could come up with therefore was, we can't admit
that we were wrong. Listen, if all of us Christians are the church, why can't
we Roman Catholics, with a celibate leadership, with bachelor leaders, learn
from married bishops? And frankly, we are...
Well, the Pope goes into the Philippines, he goes into places that are
economically terribly deprived, that are over-populated, and he talks about
birth control and abortion. And the people don't believe him. They admired him
I went to the Philippines last year, I met with the Catholics, I was at a mass
on the grounds where he had been, and what I saw was a people of faith. And
they've got a big population, but they've got great vocations to the church,
and what they said was "We're going to go out and evangelize the world". And it
was the most incredible experience, because we were seeing the real poor. I
mean the really poor people. They're praying and singing, responding to their
cardinal, loving the Holy Father. It is an incredible thing. They are the very
ones that give me the courage to fight on...
I think that this pope, who is such a glamorous and good spokesmen, and gives a
good image of the church, but he's not credible. He's not believed on birth
control, and he talks to people in overpopulation and in poverty.
After the Pope went to the Philippines, I had a monsignor come in to me, and
he was in tears. He said, "I have the greatest test of my faith". He said the
Pope went to the Philippines, and in the midst of all that poverty -- he had
been in the Philippines and had been a war-prisoner there -- he said in the
midst of all that poverty, in the midst of all that need of those people, he
talks about abortion and birth control. If the question of birth control is
solved in a scientific way, that will in a sense agree with the sensus
fidelium, the whole Catholic sense. That it will solve, it will unfold the
authority problem in the church, which is at the basis.
Let me say something very clear. This teaching has been set down, it will not
be changed. Not in this millennium, not in the next millennium, and those who
are fighting it, will pass away. The spirit of this age is going to dissipate
like every age before it, and the Church's teaching will stay firm, and a
hundred years from now it will be more prophetic than it is today.
And the tragedy, the tragedy is that the ordinary Catholic is not being told
this. They are being deceived into believing that this is something that can be
changed. That if we had different priests or different bishops or someone else,
this could be changed. It can't be. And it is wrong...
I am with Mother Theresa. The place of unimaginable poverty is here. It is
HERE! And it is not in the Philippines.
I have been in the Philippines. I have seen the shining faces of the poor, and
I have been awestruck by their faith, and their strength. And I talked to a
priest who was there in the Philippines, and we said, "We have vocations, and
they come from the families of the poor. But is this country who believes that
a child is a burden, and that the death of children is better". This is the
country where there is poor!
But the teaching on birth control you say will never change. And I say, that
you are saying that the earth is flat, and that the earth is the center of the
universe. I think that the change which needs to take place, and that the
sexual revolution which is a very, very mixed bag, but is part of the switch of
a paradigm from--that teaching on sexuality to a much more human teaching on
There's nothing human about the sexual revolution. There's nothing pro-woman
about the sexual revolution.
Yes there is.
It is the Catholic teaching on sexuality which is the validation of what it
means to be a woman. And a hundred years from now the world will understand
that, and this era will have gone the way of all the eras that we fought before
And just try it! If only I could just reach out to people and say just try it.
I've been on the other side, I know what it's like.
I mean this is the whole thing, the whole emphasis on this age, if we just gave
the poor less children, they would be rich. No they would be poorer! They would
be - Having less children doesn't make you rich, it makes you poor, and we are
the poorest country.
SISTER MARA FAULKNER
In lots of ways I agree with you. I think the question of world population is
much more complicated than reproductive rights, much more complicated, and the
fact that countries that aren't Catholic at all are also overpopulated, seems
to, and they have different religious traditions. But one of the things I think
is that, I don't know how to say this exactly but--I'm going to muddle through
this. That because so much of our energy and attention seems to have to go to
questions of sexuality, we aren't addressing, as a church or as a world, the
much bigger questions about poverty. Which is, why is the northern hemisphere
rich and the southern hemisphere poor, and how are we ripping off the south?
Each of us sitting here.
And John Paul II speaks of that in his letter on social concern, where he was
slammed by political conservatives for taking such a liberal stance in the idea
that this world belongs to every person, because they are a child of God. And
that the rich north has to, out of justice, help the impoverished south.
And what that doesn't mean is let's ship 'em birth controls and not penicillin,
which is unfortunately what has happened. I know people in Africa who have free
clinics, who have a plethora of contraceptive devices and they don't have
penicillin, and they don't have malaria pills...
What's related to your question is also the question of HIV in Africa, where
some of the populations, 50% are infected. And where in the light of that, the
basic Catholic teaching is that condoms should not be used.
The basic Catholic teaching is that we all should live chaste lives. And that
HIV, there are many issues with HIV, but one of the big issues of HIV is sexual
And there are women in Africa, for example, who are living chaste lives within
their marriage, they are faithful to their husbands, and their husbands come
home and infect them. If there was a condom there, they wouldn't be
This wonderful faith in condoms! It just seems like this age is worshipping at
that altar, and I will not worship at that altar, and the church will not.
And the Church should not worship at the altar of natural family planning.
Before Communism fell in Poland, the Poles could not get artificial
contraceptives, they couldn't afford the Pill, and they heard about natural
family planning from their bishops. And Poland had one of the highest abortion
rates in all of Europe. You cannot say no contraception and no abortion at the
same time. You say it, but it obviously hasn't worked. You say that it works
for you, and that's wonderful. But for 30 million Poles it didn't work, and
more millions of other Catholics it hasn't.
I cannot believe that a person who practices natural family planning, as the
church sees it, and does that, then if they conceive a child is going to go out
and have an abortion. I'm sorry. I don't believe that. I just don't believe
What happens is they have more and more children which they cannot afford. And
you have child abuse, and you have spousal abuse, and you have people whose
marriages are being torn apart.
You may be linking a correlation there to the number of children with spousal
abuse which I don't think has ever been proved. I think if we're going to
discuss spousal abuse, which may not be on the topic of today's discussion, we
have to look to other correlations...
According to the official teaching of the Church, if there's a married couple,
and one of the partners is infected with HIV, say someone who's a hemophiliac
and got it through a blood transfusion, they cannot use a condom, according to
I don't know that John Paul II has reaffirmed that teaching, but certain of the
bishops have. However, certain of the bishops have come out against that also,
and said that is not logical. The thing that it seems to me is that we're
talking about the surface of all the behavior, and not talking to the question
that we are created as sexual beings. That inherent in each of us, as man or
woman, is that we are sexual beings. Not just have sexual urges. And that that
is the difference. And you're talking about behavior, and you're talking about
sin, and you're talking about behavior, and right or wrong.
Of course, we are either male or female.
But what does that mean, to be a sexual person? And what does that mean, for
instance, in terms of sexual orientation? Sexual orientation? Sexual
orientation is a given, just as gender is a given, just as certain objects of
sexual excitation are givens. Those are givens by God. Those are givens by God,
scientifically, over and over this is proven and clarified. It is not therefore
-- therefore you have to open up the question about, what about homosexual
relations? Are they always sinful? Is that the truth, or is that the eye of the
hurricane? Is out here the question that that has to be solved, and talked
All sexual relations outside of a marriage between a man and a woman are
contrary to the teachings of the Church. This is what John Paul says. Now, I
happen to be a very good friend of Father Harvey, who is the head of Courage,
which is the Catholic organization which works with people who have same-sex
orientation temptations. And originally he thought, "Well, there's nothing we
can do". But since then, he has worked with many men, and women, who have, not
easily, but have found freedom from same-sex attractions, and have married
successfully. What we have learned is that this is a preventable,
preventable, and treatable developmental disorder. And that's very
wonderful news. And what we as Christians have to do is to love, to love and to
care for each one of these people and to give them the strength to live
chastity, and to support them in their struggle.
I'm all for love, but I disagree with you. That it's very well established that
there are genetic elements.
That is not well established! I have very carefully read every single journal
article on the subject, and in fact they do not say so. This is a deceit, and
it is tragic that it is being perpetrated. I went through and read everything,
Chandler's book, all the journal articles, and in fact what they said --
You've read Fred Berlin? You've read Richard SIPE?...
I've read all the different articles on this subject in terms of the genetics.
All the things which are sited by the general writers. And it wasn't that they
had arguments and there were other arguments, they didn't even say that it was
The pope has in recent years, when the bishops come to Rome - they have to come
every five years - he has said to the bishops (I know this. from bishops who
have been there), "You may not speak out on questions of abortion,
homosexuality, contraception, women's priesthood or women's ordination, in any
other terms other than what is officially taught".
Truth in packaging! Truth in packaging! If you are going to stand up and say,
"I am speaking for the Catholic Church", you've got to say what the Catholic
And the Catholic Church taught the earth is the center of the universe, and
that was the official Church teaching up until 1993!
Mother Theresa once said, "God does not ask us to be a success, he does not ask
us to be brilliant, he asks us to be faithful". And that's what being a
Catholic is about. What she said, "Truth in packaging." Having the integrity to
say, "I'm a Catholic, so I follow what the Catholic church says". The Catholic
Church says, what the Holy Father and the bishops united to the Holy Father
which formed the majesterium say, that I don't want to splash out on my own. If
I want to do that, there are plenty of other religions we can choose. I've been
there! I chose the Catholic faith because I wanted to buy into the package,
because it has to do with personal integrity. Buying into what you say you are,
and it's a great thing!
And the package said, in official terms, that Galileo was wrong, that the earth
is the center of the universe. That was a teaching. That was hell.
The Pope's made a list of all the things we've done wrong in the last 2000
years and he said we will go into the new millennium on our knees, we're sorry
for all the mistakes we've made. But we are not sorry for the things that we've
done right! And we can not be sorry for the truth. The Pope doesn't make up the
SISTER MARA FAULKNER
I think that the Pope does need to be on his knees to the many gay people who
have been told that - and have taken this into their being, it's the
internalization of this teaching that I think destroys people's lives - they
have been told that they are disordered in their very being, that who they are
is an aberration and a sin, if they act on it. And who have had chastity,
celibacy, imposed upon them from the outside rather than from the inside as the
gift it was meant to be.
SISTER NANCY HYNES
And in my experience, homosexual people have a very loving relationship with
their partners. And I can't see denying 10%, or whatever it is, of humanity,
their very nature. And it is my belief that it is in their very nature, and
that we've got to stop denigrating that and learn to accept it. I think it is
unconscionable that the Pope should say, or the bishops, "Practicing
homosexuality, homosexuals, must stay away from the sacraments and cannot
darken the door of my church. However, parents, you can love your gay daughter
or your gay son, but they just can't receive the sacraments".
I think that's the scandal of the Eucharist today. We are denying people from
the Eucharist, which is the most important or central symbol of unity. We say,
"Gays, you may not apply." We say "Remarried, divorced people, you may not
apply." We say, "Married priests who did not go through the process of
dis-leiticization need not apply." We put so many no no no's out there. And to
have the organization of the church focus on a tight little eye of the storm
and let everything whirl around out here seems to me to be very exclusive, and
I've been part of many Protestant ceremonies in the past, and they always
welcome any believing person to the Communion table. And it just shocks me and
horrifies me when I hear of priests turning away people from the Communion
And it shocks me even more that women are not allowed the fullness of their
baptism. The fullness of our baptism as a priestly people is, those who are
called to priesthood should be ordained to priesthood.
In a hundred years that's going to happen.
No it isn't!
SISTER NANCY HYNES
No! In five years.
No it isn't, and the tragedy here, is that if you give people a hope for
something that is never going to happen, that is cruel. Women can be called to
be an image of the bride, they cannot be called to be an image of the
bridegroom. The Holy Father has said it, and no subsequent pope can unsay
He said it's not his venue to do it, he said, "Neither the Church nor I as Pope
have the power to do this". What does that tell us?
It's telling us that he's trying to tie the hands of his successors.
Implicitly that tells us that that was how Jesus Christ chose to do it. And
Jesus Christ being God could have chosen to do it in any way that he pleased.
He did not...
The priest is the sign of the bridegroom, and it doesn't work if it's a woman.
And what we are defending is the goodness of the difference between men and
women, the basic goodness of creation, that God made a two-sexed universe. And
that's what I find in feminist writing they're really ticked-off about. They
really don't grasp the perfect goodness of complimentarity of two-sexed
SISTER SUSAN FAULKNER
That's not what I'm ticked-off about. I'm ticked-off about the implication that
God is male, and therefore Jesus had to be male, and therefore the priests have
to be male.
We're not allowed to believe that God is male, but we must believe that Jesus
There are basically three arguments that the Holy Father gives why women cannot
be ordained priests. The first is that Jesus called only men to be the twelve
Apostles. The second is that the priest must be an image, or icon of Jesus, he
must image the bridegroom, as you put it. And the third is, well, the church
has never done this.
Now there are answers to all three of those arguments. First of all there's the
assumption that all the Apostles were priests. Jesus was a layman. He called
laymen to be part of his movement. If he was critical of any group, it was of
the Jewish priests. It was only about three hundred years later that the whole
concept of priesthood was placed upon the leadership in the early church.
Oh, come on!
May I talk a little bit please?
You can, but it's wrong to say things that really aren't true.
Ah, you can correct me after. Who led the Eucharist in the early church? The
New Testament doesn't say, but there is a very ancient book, the teaching of
the Twelve Apostles, which says, "Allow the bishops to lead the Eucharist.
Allow them along with the prophets. It appears from that document, this early
Church document, that the first leaders of the Eucharist were prophets, those
who were regarded as having a very special tie to God. We can presume that,
apostles and prophets. Now we know from the New Testament that there were women
prophets. A very good argument can be made is that women prophets in the early
church led the Eucharist.
The Church very carefully took the question, "Can women be ordained?" in light
of the changes in our understanding of the equality of women. It looked at all
of the arguments, all of the fathers of the Church, all of the arguments that
were made by both sides. And it came up with the answer: we have no authority.
And then it tried to explain this, people didn't accept it. It kept explaining.
Finally it said, the issue is closed. It is closed, it cannot be changed.
SISTER MARA FAULKER
That is the problem right there! To close the issue, to close discussion.
People of God, the church is the people of God. The people of God told Pope
Paul VI: "Allow birth control". This would be in 1968. He ignored them, he
leaned on one argument, and overturned the lay-people, and the priests who were
advising him, and the theologians.
And he used Pope John Paul II's argument as essential to his - So it's really
Pope John Paul II's who infused his thinking in "Humanae Vitae"--in
condemning birth control.
SISTER NANCY HYNES
But Paul VI did it before him.
He advised him. He was the advisor for the minority...
SISTER BETTINA FERRARO
I can only speak out of, if I can speak...(near tears) of what is such a
profound and intimate and real part of the fiber of my being. To have
experienced the call to the ordained priesthood. I can argue from the eyebrows
up, but I think that a piece of it that is often left out is the affective
experience of loving the Church, of willing to give my life for the Church, and
having that Church say to me, "Because God created you a woman, you are
constituitively unable, by virtue of gender, to have a call to the ordained
It doesn't tell me just that it will not accept it. It doesn't tell me that it
doesn't like it or it's uncomfortable with it. I am told in a statement of John
Paul II that I am constituitively, by virtue of my creation, unable to have a
call that I feel is part of the integrity of who I am.
When I am at Eucharist, the pain of that sometimes is so bad. I know that the
call is not a right. Nobody has the right to ordination. The call to any kind
of vocation that we are in is a gift of God. It is a grace. I did not look for
it. I am not interested in power. I resent those who say that it is a power
issue. And quite frankly I resent some of the national organizations that posit
themselves as speaking for those of us who are called to orders. I do not
belong to those organizations, I do not care for how they, you know, say their
theology. So I am not part of that broad brush that people condemn me for.
What I struggle with, in terms of the present position of the Pope, in saying
this is the definitive truth, is the fact that, when the call is a gift, and we
have ways of testing that gift, to even disallow a testing of it, to say that
it doesn't exist, is such a violation of who I feel God is calling me to be. Of
who, I would say I know, it's more than a feeling. It's part of the integrity
of who I am. And this Pope, because of I think a lot of what we've talked about
- his Marian devotion, the gender identification, the bridegroom and the bride,
fear--I don't know. I think there are lots of reasons, and quite frankly I am
tired, you know, of the argument. Because at the end of it all, I stand before
my God at the end of my life, the God who I believe gave me this gift. And
loving a Church that will not even allow that it's possible that God has given
me this gift...
I find it inconceivable that God, from the beginning, as John Paul says, it is
in the mind of God from the beginning that women could never be called to serve
the people of God through the ordained priesthood. That my God is so gracious,
is so loving, is so much bigger than any of us, or the church will ever be,
that this is impossible. It's a violation to me, that I cannot be begin to tell
you how painful it is. I just can't.
The traditional Church has made martyrs before, and may make a martyr of you.
But I would recognize you as, if not a priest today, then certainly a prophet.
And it takes the whole Church to recognize prophets. And not just those in high
places. The Church, I often hear, is not a democracy. But there is a
long-standing tradition in the church of reception, of the so-called sense of
the faithful, and it's the total body of the faithful that discerns and
decides. And, eventually the leadership catches up with it. And the sense of
the faithful is that the Church, today, is not teaching the entire truth on
birth control, and the church leadership today, is not teaching the entire
truth with regard to women in roles of leadership in the Church.
It breaks my heart. It breaks my heart because, as a woman, we would gladly
give people what they think they need. And this is such a serious question.
We've looked at it, and the answer is no. And it's hard to say no to someone
who feels so passionately, but it is no. And that's why the Holy Father has
said we shouldn't be bringing it up as though it were a debatable point.
Because then we'll just have more broken-hearted women. And the thing is,
because I believe passionately that it's what God has said, and it is an act of
love. The fact that women cannot be ordained cannot be anything but an act of
pure love from God as Father.
And what we need to understand is perhaps there is something in the way we have
lived our vocation as women, or particularly the way women religious have lived
their vocation, that has not been full enough. And that once this door is
understood as firmly closed, another door will open that will be more
beautiful, and be the door that will allow women to fully give everything they
have, in a way that we probably haven't even foreseen.
But you don't believe in prophecy.
I believe absolutely in prophecy, but I believe that the discernment of
prophecy comes from this whole body of the Church, as magisterial teaching. And
the Church looked at this question with great sincerity. I know bishops,
believe me. If they could have given in on this, they would have. They don't
like to say no to women, the Holy Father does not like to say no to women, but
there was some thing that I don't think we understand yet. One of the beautiful
things about the way theology works is, a teaching of the Church gets
challenged, and we say, This is it. But then, in defending that teaching, we
begin to understand what we haven't understood fully before. And we begin to
explain it. And I think there may be still a great deal about what does it mean
to be a religious woman, a sister, that we have not understood. And once this
door is closed...
SISTER NANCY HYNES
I don't understand that the search for truth includes closing a door. The image
that I have in my mind is Pope John Paul II embracing his would-be killer, his
assassin, who shot him five times. He's willing to listen and to forgive that
man, who threatened his life. He is not willing to have an audience with
Theresa Cane who respectfully asked him to open the door to discussion about
women. I don't understand that. Truth is not a gold nugget that you wrap in
cellophane and put on the mantelpiece. This is Virginia Wolfe. But it's also my
truth. Truth is ongoing, and I'm learning more and more each day about my
But you see how really cruel that would be, to raise a hope where he knows --
SISTER NANCY HYNES
How does he know?
Because he's the Pope!
There never was a discussion.
I've got a shelf full of books this long!
There was a committee of biblical scholars, to look at the sacred scriptures
SISTER NANCY HYNES
Bachelor biblical scholars.
And their answer was, there is nothing in sacred scripture that would prevent
the Church from ordaining women. And the Pope was furious at their conclusion.
He wanted his own. He does not have an open mind, he has never had an open
mind, and there has never been a discussion on this issue. He's tried to stop
it, but it's going on anyway, because the spirit will blow where it will.
The priesthood is about service, and I think Bettina spoke to that when she
said she wasn't after power, what she's after is service. Service is serving
the one you're serving as that one wants to be served. If not, it's not
service. The Church has said, "Men will serve me this way, women will serve me
in other ways".
SISTER NANCY HYNES
No no no.
Who has said that?
The church! The Pope and the bishops in union with him, and the faithful, who
are in union with the Pope and the majesterium. Those of us who are Catholic,
because we believe what the church says in its beautiful fullness.
She said something very important here: "We who are Catholic". And she assumed
that those of us who disagree with the Pope and her on this issue are not fully
Catholic. That there is a virtual schism in the Church, and that we are somehow
SISTER MARA FAULKNER
Do you think that?
Yeah, I think we're running fast and loose with judgements about what we're
thinking. I'm thinking that --
Are you judging that I, and those of us who disagree with you right now, are
not truly Catholic?
I'm judging no one. I'm saying that, in order to call myself a Catholic and to
be Catholic, I have to buy into the whole package of what the Catholic church
is, or I lose my personal integrity as a Catholic. And Jesus Christ -- I don't
know where you stand on everything, I will not judge you.
But somebody will. There will come a day when all of us will have to stand
before the Judge, and we will be accountable. And --
To your truth?
No! To the only truth that is, to Jesus Christ who is the way, the truth and
And who had an open table, and who ate with women, and with prostitutes, even
though it was against the custom of the day, who called women `disciples'. And
who sent Mary Magdelene to the apostles, so that she was called the Apostle of
And didn't wear a miter, and didn't wear vestments, and didn't carry a crosier
And didn't need to because a woman's dignity come from being a child of God,
and not from being a member of the clergy!
No, I'm talking about the Pope. The Pope wears all these things, Jesus Christ
did not do that. What I'm saying also is that what's being operated on is a
model which is homo-social. God is a father, Jesus Christ --
Yes! God is a father!!
Well, hold on. You just said that was heresy.
I didn't say he was a man. I said he's a father.
Well, okay. But God is male, Jesus is male, the spirit is talked about as male,
the bishops are male, the priests are male, and if you open up the real
question of what sexual nature has to do with the theological reality, you have
to redefine. This is the great crisis around. Because the average Catholic
around the world does not buy the Cjjhurch's teaching on contraception. That's
absolutely true. The Church's teaching on abortion is also even questioned by
over 50% of people, Catholics. The idea of homosexuality being a sin, and sex
activity outside marriage, and masturbation being mortally sinful -- that is
not believed by a lot of priests and bishops and Catholics.
Good people who are searching for the truth, and who do not believe that they
can exist in the eye of the hurricane, and move with it, but who believe that
part of the struggle is the whole thing. Yes, the calm image, and the
tradition, and so on, as articulated at this time, but don't forget, the Spirit
will elect a new pope, and that pope --
Will not change one of these teachings, not one, not a hundred popes from now.
Oh yes they will.
SISTER NANCY HYNES
That has been our tradition throughout two thousand years, that we have
changed. The Pope apologized to Galileo, right?
That's not an essential doctrinal teaching!
Celibacy. Has it changed? It's changed dramatically. And if you understand the
development of celibacy, and when it was articulated in 11, 1039, that this
would be universal for all the people in the Latin Right, who practiced
celibacy? The cardinal in England had fifteen children. St Peter --
We can all bring all the scandals of the Church. I was brought up in an
anti-Catholic family. I knew all the scandals, I knew all the sins. What does
this prove? That men are sinful.
No, I'm talking about teaching and practice.
The Church has always taught that married men can be ordained. Today, in the
Eastern Rite, married men are ordained. There has been no change in that
teaching. Today, the Pope can choose tomorrow to say married men can be
ordained as secular priests in the Latin Rite.
So you are admitting therefore, that celibacy in the Latin Rite is a whim, or a
decision, of one man.
And you are very happy with this kind of totalitarian governmental system?
And that can't change?
He can decide tomorrow, to ordain married men in the Latin Rite just as married
men are ordained in the Eastern Rite.
So where's the truth? Which is the truth?
The truth is that married men can be ordained, and as a sign to this age, which
is sex-obsessed, we have chosen, for this moment, to keep a celibate priesthood
in the Latin Right.
We? We, we. Who `we'?
The church. The Pope. That's what popes are for! That's the marvelous thing
The Pope. Okay. Because Nancy doesn't agree with that, and Ron, and some of us
others don't necessarily agree.
That we can make arguments on. You can go to him and make all the arguments you
SISTER NANCY HYNES
No! He refused an audience with Theresa Cane.
The Pope said you cannot discuss celibacy as a discipline. I was at the
International Conference. I have a picture and Pope John Paul and I are shaking
hands, right there, the two of us, and I tell friends he's saying, "Sike, keep
up the good work".
But we cannot -- The teaching is that married men can be ordained. It is not
that men who have been ordained and promised to be celibate can go off and get
married, however. That is a very different thing. And also, one of the problems
Have you heard his statements on that? On celibacy? No. It cannot change, and
it cannot be discussed, as homosexuality, as abortion, as remarriage--these are
things that cannot be discussed.
He discusses all of these in his writings.
No, he does not discuss them. He says certain things about them. He does not
What is very interesting is that the Holy Father has given up the ship. At the
beginning of his pontificate he spoke incessantly about marital ethics. He
stopped doing that. And in 1997, the Vatican issued a letter to confessors,
saying, "You might as well stop, give up the ship, that you will simply be
putting people into bad conscience". They recognized that nothing they say will
change people's minds. That is a recognition I think of the sense of the
faithful. That they listen to the Holy Father's arguments, and those arguments
have been found wanting.
Then we women who believe these teachings have got to go out and teach our
children and teach other women, and that's what I find is happening. I find
that maybe you know I don't have a great public platform, but one by one, woman
by woman, I am bringing people to understand the teachings of the church as
they are. And the Holy Father encourages me in this work. I've dedicated my
life to that cause, and it's very exciting. And I'm not the least bit
discouraged. And I find that everywhere I go in the world, I meet other women
who are doing exactly the same things. And the Holy Father is talking over the
heads of all the theologians to the hearts of the children. We will win!
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