Center for Ethics and Leadership

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sister Barred From Teaching for Supporting Women's Ordination

Archbishop Daniel Pilarcyk of Cincinnati has barred from teaching at parishes and institutions Sister of Charity Louise Akers for her support of women's ordination. Sister Akers had placed her name on a website for the Women's Ordination Conference. She agreed to remove it in conversation with the archbishop, but refused in conscience to make a public renunciation of her position.

Catholic bloggers have reacted strongly on both sides of the issue, although the website I searched, WLWT, channel 5, in Cincinnati, seemed to have more Catholics critical of the archbishop and the church hierarchy in general. The issues were three: the sexual abuse scandal (again!), the accusation of sexism in the Church, and the accusation of hypocrisy in banning Sister Akers for what she reduced to a private position of conscience but providing Sen. Kennedy a Catholic funeral. The ferment among the laity continues.

As for the theological issue itself, a few years ago Pope John Paul II called the teaching on women's ordination definitive and forbade further public discussion of it. This caused some concern since the Church does not have a category of teaching classified as definitive but not infallible. In addition, while there has been some protest against the position that Catholics may not dissent publicly against Church teaching, the issue of a faithful Catholic's private dissent in conscience is more strongly debated.

This is a very difficult issue that will roil the Church for some time.


  • I think as long as the church has the power to ban what a person says, no matter who it is, there is little hope for the fair treatment of women within its establishment. The church has a long history of shutting people up when they don't like what is being said. I don't see how it will change unless the church is run from outside, and that will never happen.

    By Anonymous Anne W, At September 16, 2009 10:38 AM  

  • Early Christianity was dependent upon women as leaders of home churches. As the church developed into an institution, the role of women was relegated to a class consistent with women's roles in Western society. Anne W's comment about the institution "shutting people up" is a sad statement on the reputation of the Roman Catholic Church.

    One would imagine that criticism from within would be viewed differently than criticism from outside - guess not. As for Sister Louise (if that is how she should be properly addressed), I would hope that ranking women in the church would self-advocate for stronger leadership positions. So despite the Archbishop's action and consistent with the idea of nailing our list of complaints to the door of the church, I say, 'Sister, you go girl!'

    By Blogger kobe2, At September 20, 2009 12:10 PM  

  • I see it this way that it was wrong for the church to ban her from teaching. the attempt to make society equal for all genders has just took one huge step back from where we were. How does the church let this happen?

    By Anonymous justin oister, At September 21, 2009 8:05 AM  

  • I agree with Anne, the church does not allow women to have a leader role and if they do not like what they have to say they just shut them off. This just reiterates the fact that women are not equal to men. They should not have banned Sister.

    By Anonymous Katie Longlott, At September 21, 2009 2:27 PM  

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