The Feminist Agenda within the Catholic Church
Until about 1985, I was aware that the feminist movement was making itself felt in the Catholic Church, in women's demands for ordination, girl altar servers and so forth. Then, in 1985, a kit of discussion papers (hereinafter referred to as "the Kit"), entitled, Women in the Church, was published by the Administrative Board of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB).1 It was to be circulated amongst women in parishes across Canada, with the purpose of making them question their roles within the Church. Having been asked to critique this kit, which was causing much division, I found it necessary to study its bibliography, as the discussion papers are so abbreviated that this source material is needed for one to determine the philosophy underlying each session.
This bibliography, composed almost solely of the works of religious feminist authors, plunges one right into the midst of feminist thinking within the Church. It soon became obvious to me that this movement, which is now very powerful, has truly frightening ramifications. In book after book, the advanced degrees of the authors gave academic respectability to distortions of the truth that are being presented as new knowledge, whereas any scientist who might, in like manner, try to twist scientific facts in order to support his theories, would lose all credibility. It also became clear that religious feminism was so influencing nuns, priests and bishops that they were now trying probably unwittingly in many cases to introduce the laity to this philosophy (as, for example, through the Kit).2
The purpose of this paper is to present a summary of the feminist agenda within the Church, an agenda which is often hidden but which is now in full swing. The quotations and references are representative not extreme examples of the now rather large body of religious feminist literature.
There are two broad divisions in feminism. The first is secular feminism, which peaked under such people as Betty Friedan, Germaine Greer and Simone de Beauvoir. Then, starting in the early Seventies, the feminist push for equality of the sexes crept into theology schools, seminaries and convents, giving birth to the second branch, known as spiritual, religious or Christian feminism. Secular feminism is mostly concerned with the treatment of women in the world, but as religious feminism is highly populated by nuns, ex-nuns, women theologians and historians, it is very concerned with religious practice and the treatment of women in the Church. It is this group that concerns us here, since under the umbrella of social justice they have rejected God and seem to have elevated themselves to his position, trying to create a new Church and society in their own image and likeness.3
Spiritual feminism is an iceberg
Spiritual feminism can be likened to an iceberg threatening the barque of Peter. The tip, which represents women's demands for ministerial power, is visible and can be avoided. The real threat, however, comes from the much larger submerged, hidden part of the iceberg, representing the philosophy of religious feminism. This poses a grave danger to souls, so we must turn the radar of our minds upon it if we are to avoid its perils.
This movement actually started in the nineteenth century, according to leading religious feminist, Rosemary Ruether (who signed the October 1984 New York Times pro-abortion advertisement)4 and Eleanor McLaughlin. In their book, Women of Spirit,5 they state that the ideal of "'neither male or female' of the New Testament" ceased to be seen by nineteenth-century feminists as "beyond nature" (that is, as referring to the spiritual unity of those who live in faith, as taught by the Church),6 but "became a goal of social reform." Nineteenth-century liberalism saw paradise as the "goal of . . . evolution and amelioration of unjust social conditions" and located on earth, not in heaven. It was nineteenth-century liberal theology that "translated the concept of spiritual equality of Christianity into a demand for institutional reform that included women in the . . . ordained ministry."
So today we hear of the Church having to "move forward"7 to a "new Humanity"8 or "to the new vision of the Christian community."9 But where did Christ say that his religion would lead to an earthly utopia? What he did state was that his kingdom was not of this world, his message was going to cause division and his followers would be persecuted.10 Furthermore, the Church teaches that Revelation occurred once11 and Christianity is not in a process of evolution or discovering new truths.12
When their demands for ordination were turned down, present-day religious feminists were so furious that they took to name-calling. The Church was dubbed "patriarchal" perhaps reflecting Ruether's idea that the hierarchy consisted of "elderly Italian male celibates" who could not understand women's issues13 and "sexist" another feminist insult. In 1979, two very influential religious feminists, Carol Christ and Judith Plaskow, in their book, Womenspirit Rising, declared that "patriarchy is a many-headed monster and it must therefore be attacked with all the strategies at our command."14 With this deliberate declaration of war, spiritual feminism became the self-proclaimed enemy of the Catholic Church and any Christian or Jewish denomination that would not admit women to positions of power.
The first line of attack was to declare that women were "oppressed" by the Church.15 They needed "liberation" from patriarchy and so feminist theology came into being as a cousin of liberation theology16 and included the Marxist espousal of revolution to achieve social reform in the Church.17 This liberation includes not just the attainment of powerful positions in the Church, but also total freedom in moral matters, i.e., autonomous control over one's body, as regards contraception, abortion, lesbianism and so forth.18 Another spiritual feminist leader, Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, in her book, In Memory of Her, affirmed that "at the heart of the spiritual feminist quest is the quest for women's power, freedom, and independence."19
The Word of God is a lie
Feminists rejected any thought of accepting the Church's teaching on ordination with Christ-like suffering or humility. Fiorenza said that such suffering must not be ascribed to the will of God and Biblical texts that lent themselves to this interpretation were written to justify patriarchal oppression!20 This implies that the Word of God is a lie, a collection of myths, and so Fiorenza's natural conclusion was that the Bible had to be "demythologized"20 that is, rewritten from the feminist perspective.
Now, the word "myth" is normally understood to be a fictitious narrative that explains natural phenomena.21 Hence, the Bible, the Word of God, cannot contain any myth, as this would imply that the sacred writers were not always inspired by God, but used their imagination when they wished.22 But the feminists labeled the parts they could not accept, such as the creation of the world by a male God,23 or Eve's sin,24 as "myths," and they rewrote these accounts, which then became their "Word."25 But then, perhaps not wishing to seem like they were attacking the truth of God's Word, they redefined "myth." According to Canadian theologian Sister Virginia Varley, "myth is not untruth or unreality," but "a story to live by," an interpretation of an "inexpressible truth."26 Since one person's interpretation is as good as another's, the rewriting of the Scripture becomes justified27 and the feminist word becomes equal in value to God's Word. But it is a fallacy to see truth as a collection of myths, because, as Cardinal Ratzinger has pointed out, truth is something for which one can die, but who dies for myths that are interchangeable?28
The reinterpretation of Biblical history the feminist word came to be known as "herstory."29 According to Sheila Collins, "In relativizing history, herstory undermines the authority of biblical revelation to be the exclusive channel of truth."30 Christ and Plaskow added that tradition is just "a series of human choices which may be imaginatively revoked . . ."29 Thus, herstory became a tool for attacking the very foundation of Church teaching: the revealed truth of Scripture and Tradition.
Herstory also became useful in a second way. Ruether said that, in order for one to "affirm an idea against the dominant culture," a "subcultural group" had to be formed to support the alternative position. The dominant ideology ("hierarchalism") and social order had to be discredited and weakened for the counter-cultural groups to increase and survive."31 (These sound startlingly similar to Communist tactics.)32 Women had been goaded into anger so that they would leave the Church and form new communities of "liberation from patriarchy."33 The method that is being used to weaken the (dominant) Church and strengthen the new "WomanChurch" (as it is being called by Ruether,34 as well as by Canadian historian, Mary Malone35), is the manipulative psychological technique of consciousness-raising. The tool employed is herstory, used in this case to recount women's personal experiences of perceived oppression and sexism in the Church and society.36
Even witches suffered oppression
Story-telling sessions, which dwell on past and present hurts, are guaranteed to produce anger. In an expanded form, the present experiences of women are combined with rewritten history to show that women have always been oppressed. Even witches in the past suffered from "patriarchal suppression" because they were powerful women, not because they were spreading evil this theme occupies about a quarter of the National Film Board of Canada film, Behind the Veil: Nuns (produced by women).37 Fiorenza says that keeping alive "the memory of our foresisters' sufferings" gives Christian feminists a "subversive power" and "solidarity" with past, present and future women.38 Unfortunately, any philosophy that deliberately foments anger and hatred to attack God and his Church leaves itself open to becoming a tool of the devil.
Herstory is the foundation of so-called "feminist theology," which Collins said could not start with abstractions, but with women's stories, in order to be "meaningful"39 This theology of women's liberation underlies feminist spirituality,40 which is concerned only with the human spirit and the world, and not with the soul or a world beyond this earth.41 Spiritual feminism is, therefore, a new religion, which is totally anti-Catholic; its only claim to Christianity seems to be based on its similarity to the heretical, pseudo-Christian Gnostic communities of the first and second centuries, as will be explained in a short while.
Now, if religious feminism is anti-Catholic, why do some of its adherents claim to be Catholic? There are two possible reasons. The first is that some women find it hard to make the break. They hope the Church will change, but the longer they court feminism, the less they can stomach non-inclusive language and male-celebrated Masses42 and eventually they would find it necessary to leave the Church or find themselves staying on for the second reason. This reason is the feminist game plan, its hidden agenda ("hidden" in the sense that it has not been made general knowledge). It was summarized by Sister Donna Quinn, O.P. (another signer of the New York Times advertisement), when she said, in Behind the Veil, that she stays in the Church to change it so that it is no longer sexist and sinful.
This game plan was set out by Ruether in her book, Sexism and God-Talk.43 First, "feminist base communities" have to be set up in order to engage in consciousness-raising, brainstorming and worship. (She also calls these groups "covens,"34 as in a collection of witches; Fiorenza and Sister Diann Neu, S.P., call them "ecclesias";44 and the latest name is WomanChurch.) Secondly, these women consciously attend institutional churches as well, so that "the transformed liturgies, theological reflection, and social action developed in base groups" can be "brought to bear" on the Church. Thirdly, the Church then becomes a "missionary field" of the base community; WomanChurch members, by staying in the traditional Church, keep "lines of communication" open between it and the base community, so that they have a larger public to whom they can announce their "good news" "the Gospel as redemption from patriarchy"!
In these WomanChurch worship groups, feminists are celebrating their "Revelation,"45 their "Word," as obtained from dreams and fantasies a la Carl Jung,46 and told through herstory; forgiving each other in their sacrament of Penance; and celebrating their Eucharist, which is not the transformation of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, but the transformation of the community "into the body of the new humanity, infused with the blood of new life" and "symbolized" by sharing bread and wine together.47 This is the new religion to which they want to convert the Catholic Church; this is the new Christian community toward which we are being propelled!
Now, in looking for material to use in rewriting Scripture and Tradition and in developing their own forms of worship, feminists, by their own admission, started to explore material that was heretical and noncanonical.48 It was here that they found support and they seem to have drawn heavily on heretical Gnostic beliefs and community life, and on the occult rites of witchcraft and paganism, to develop their theology and liturgies.49
Eve displayed wisdom, not pride
Following Gnostic thought, they believe in either a female Creator50 or a male-female God.51 They consider themselves divine, as self-knowledge is knowledge of the divine.52 One who is divine cannot sin; hence, the only salvation necessary is liberation from sexism, which is the only sin there is,53 and this they can achieve by themselves, as acknowledged by Canadian theologian Elisabeth Lacelle,54 who was the chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee that produced the Kit. Following this line of reasoning, there was no Original Sin, so Eve displayed wisdom, not pride and disobedience, in reaching for the knowledge of God,55 and she was claimed as a feminist. Christ came only to give superior knowledge ("gnosis") and one becomes his equal when one attains his level of enlightenment, at which point, as in Gnosticism, one does not need to accept the authority of an institutional Church.56 Since the Gnostics professed to be Christian,57 feminists freely quote their gospels as Christian Revelation,58 and since men and women seemingly ministered equally in their religious life,59 the Gnostic community became an important feminist model. More modern precedents are the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Quakers and Shakers, who also followed this way of thought and life.60
Finally, in looking for rituals to reflect an experiential feminist theology, religious feminists discovered the suitability of the rituals of the goddess-worshipping female-centered religions. They adapted them to provide the basis for a contemporary religious community centered around femaleness.61 This theology, that now incorporates witchcraft, is the basis for pseudo-Christian feminist liturgies. But what do modern, educated women see in witchcraft? Well, it makes them feel powerful; they have equality and autonomy in each coven; they have a rich source of symbolism and ceremony to appeal to their senses; witchcraft makes them feel fully human; and it can help them achieve material ends.62 In developing their liturgies, religious feminists have been helped by several real witches, the most influential being a woman called Starhawk.63
Witchcraft is hidden in liturgies
Straight witchcraft rituals (which the feminists do participate in)64 are easily recognizable, but witchcraft hidden in pseudo-Christian liturgies is harder to spot. One of the best known liturgies right now is the pseudo-Catholic Litany,65 in which living or dead feminist heroines including a female demon66 and even Ruether herself67 are raised to the level of saints68 or goddesses69 and, in at least two such litanies, asked to possess and strengthen group members "as Church" (given the above documentation, it is impossible for this "Church" to be anything else but WomanChurch).65 According to Catholic teaching, only evil spirits can answer this sort of prayer,70 leaving participants open to possession.71 (These pseudo-Catholic litanies are in exactly the same styles as one performed in a witchcraft ritual in Starhawk's book, Dreaming the Dark.)72 Blessing one another through laying on of hands; ritualized meals; dancing and chanting; and the performance of ceremonies by thirteen people within a circle, are all indications of witchcraft, as are liturgies that include storytelling to raise anger.73 The litmus test is whether the "liturgy" gives worship to God, which is the only raison d'être of true Catholic worship;74 even the veneration of the Saints and the Mother of God is ultimately directed to the glory of God, as we recognize that their supernatural excellence is derived from God himself through the merits of Jesus Christ.75
Many feminist witches, mindful of their careers, say they are members of the "womanspirit movement";76 "womanspirit" being a euphemism for witch or witchcraft hence the strong witchcraft theme in the book, Womanspirit Rising (listed in the bibliography of the Kit), in which every important religious feminist (and Starhawk) has at least one essay.77
There is no knowing just how many spiritual feminists are involved in witchcraft. In Canada, the film, Behind the Veil, makes use of nuns to try hard to help create a climate for its acceptance.37 There is also evidence that under the pseudo-Christian disguise, feminist witchcraft liturgies are being slipped past the hierarchy to an unsuspecting laity.78 However, the actual number of feminists presently practicing witchcraft is not the important thing, as witchcraft has always had its adherents; what is of extreme importance, instead, is to realize that the witchcraft we are seeing surfacing in the Church itself is the fruit, the end result of the spiritual feminist journey. This journey starts at the point of needing inclusive language;79 progresses through a rejection of God, because of his maleness; substitutes a female deity usually the "goddess within" for him; and finally, finds the need for worshipping this deity; a need that can only be expressed through witchcraft.80 Feminists situated at any point on this highway should, therefore, very carefully consider where the road ends and the fact that the seductive logic and false spirituality of this movement can propel them very quickly out of the Church and into the occult world.
Christian feminism, in embracing the occult, cannot last long, as the devil always destroys those who join his forces. There are many biblical admonitions against false prophets who twist the truth,81 who have forsaken living waters for broken cisterns (Jer. 2:13) and "have moved on"82 from the Lord (Jer. 2:31) to embrace idols within or without themselves. St. Paul (in Col. 2:8) warns us not to be "deceived by empty, seductive philosophy that follows mere human traditions and is based on cosmic powers rather than on Christ." In verse 18, he said not to "stand on one's own experience," as this leads one to become "inflated with empty pride by his human reflections." Christ promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against his Church founded on Peter83 but each member of his Mystical Body has to help keep the barque of Peter afloat and souls from perishing. How then can we prevent the false doctrines of feminism from ensnaring souls, especially those of our children's generation, as its philosophy is being promoted even in the lowest grades of Catholic schools?
Well, whenever God has wanted to preserve his people from heresy and error, he has sent Our Lady to urge them to pray the Rosary. For instance, she appeared to St. Dominic, who, through the power of the Rosary, successfully fought the Albigensian heresy.84 Many Popes have preached this devotion; Pope Leo XIII said that it keeps one free from the danger of error.85 Therefore, the many appearances of Our Lady at Fatima in this century are of great significance. Sister Lucy said that Our Lady foretold these "times of diabolical disorientation" in which "the devil would engage in a decisive battle against herself." In all her apparitions she requested the daily recitation of the Rosary so that we would not be deceived by false doctrines.88
If we heed the words of the Queen of Heaven, we can be sure that, through her intercession, the Holy Spirit will safely pilot the ship of souls through these perilous waters.
N.B. The following books marked with an asterisk (*) are listed in the Bibliography of the Kit, Women in the Church (see note 1). All scriptural references, unless otherwise noted, are from the New Jerusalem Bible (see note 6).
- Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), Women in the Church. Discussion Papers (Ottawa: CCCB Publishing Service, 1985); this publication is hereinafter called "the Kit."
- Many religious feminist writers and speakers are nuns or ex-nuns. At the First Women's Ordination Conference, 1975, it was recognized that conversion of nuns to spiritual feminism was "crucial" to the success of the ordination movement (Rosemary Ruether, "Ordination: What is the Problem?," in Anne Marie Gardiner, SSND, ed., Women and Catholic Priesthood. An Expanded Vision [New York: Paulist Press, 1976], p. 32). Nuns outnumbered laywomen by nearly five to one at this conference; one-third of these nuns sought ordination (Patricia Hughes, "Who are These Women? . . ." Women and Catholic Priesthood, p. 175). Priests using inclusive language in liturgies or allowing women to rewrite the Liturgy of the Mass (see C. Virginia Finn, "A Mass for Freedom for Women," Arlene Swidler, ed., Sistercelebrations: Nine Worship Experiences [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1974], pp. 27-34) are being swayed by feminism. At the XVth General Assembly of the Canadian Religious Conference, Cartierville, Que., 1984, several North American bishops were named as being "Christian feminists" (Mary Ellen Sheehan, IHM, "When Sleeping Women Awake . . . ", in Women for What World? In What Church? [Ottawa: Canadian Religious Conference, 1985], pp. 72-75). The bishops whose statements appear in the Kit (Apps. 2-4) are also religious feminist sympathizers (cf. Elisabeth Lacelle, "Women in the Catholic Church of Canada," the ecumenist, Vol. 23, No. 4 [May-June, 1985], 49).
- Patricia Wilson-Kastner, Faith, Feminism, and the Christ (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983), pp. 20-35;* Mary Daly, "After the Death of God the Father . . . ," in Carol P. Christ and Judith Plaskow, eds., Womanspirit Rising: A Feminist Reader in Religion (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1979), pp. 56-60;* Rosemary Radford Ruether, Sexism and God-Talk: Toward a Feminist Theology (Boston: Beacon Press, 1983), pp. 31-33;* Mary T. Malone, Women Christian: New Vision (Dubuque, Iowa: Wm. C. Brown, 1985), pp. 134-36.
- Alphonse de Valk, csb, "Pro-abortion Feminists and Nuns," The Interim (Toronto), May 1985, pp. 14-15.
- Rosemary Ruether and Eleanor McLaughlin, "Women's Leadership in the Jewish and Christian Traditions: Continuity and Change," in Ruether and McLaughlin, eds., Women of Spirit: Female Leadership in the Jewish and Christian Traditions (New York: Simon and Schuster., 1979), pp. 24-25.*
- Gal. 3:23-29 and footnote, The New American Bible, Pope John Paul II edition (Nashville: Memorial Bibles International, 1977), p. 1295.
- "Celebration of the Word," Session 12 of the Kit, p. 2 and its source material, Diann Neu, SP, "Our Name is Church: The Experience of the Catholic-Christian Feminist Liturgies," Concillium, No 152 (1982), 75.
- Elisabeth Lacelle, "Should the Church Come Forward as a Project for a New Humanity," What World?, pp. 85-103, also see the Kit, App. 4, p. 2 and Conclusion of Session 9.
- "Some Women from Our Group Astounded Us," What World? p. 114.
- John 18:36; Matt. 10:34-37, 5:10-11 and footnotes, New American Bible, p. 1079: Luke 21:12-18.
- Canon George D. Smith, "Faith and Revealed Truth," in Canon Smith, ed., The Teaching of the Catholic Church (London: Burns and Oates, 1960), p. 28.
- John A. Hardon, SJ, The Catholic Catechism (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Co., 1975), pp. 49-50.
- Ruether, "Ordination: Problem?," p. 31. See how Ruether subtly connects the "patriarchal" hierarchy to systems of social oppression in Sexism, p. 61.*
- Christ and Plaskow, "Introduction," Womanspirit Rising, p. 15. They are referring to the murky dividing lines between different branches of spiritual feminism, all of which can be used to attack patriarchy.*
- Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, In Memory of Her: A Feminist Theological Reconstruction of Christian Origins (New York: Crossroad, 1983), pp. 30-31, 350;* Sexism, p. 32.*
- Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, "Feminist Spirituality, Christian Identity, and Catholic Vision," Womanspirit Rising, pp. 146-47;* Ruether, Sexism, p. 157.*
- Ruether, Sexism, pp. 21-22, 103-4, 134.*
- Ibid., pp. 217, 228-29;* Fiorenza, in In Memory, pp 350-51, says that women's physical bodies constitute the body of Christ and are the Church; hence, denying women autonomous control over their bodies is a "violent," "sacrilegious" act;* Lise Baroni, "The Creative Emergence of Women Working in the Church," and Virginia Varley, CSJ, "The Story of Woman . . .," in What World?, pp. 50, 41.
- See pp. 18-19.*
- Ibid., p. 32;* Ruether, Sexism, p. 23.*
- The Concise Oxford Dictionary, 5th ed. (1964).
- This would directly contradict 2 Pet. 1:20-21, 16-17 and 2 Tim. 3:16.
- Merlin Stone, "When God Was a Woman," Womanspirit Rising, pp. 120, 123;* also see Ruether's blasphemous skit, "The Kenosis of the Father," in Sexism, pp.1 -3.*
- Merlin Stone, When God Was a Woman (New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1978), pp. 198-223; Hallie Iglehart, Womanspirit: A Guide to Women's Wisdom (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 198), p. 99; Ecumenical Woman's Centers (EWC) Planning Group, "A Celebration on the Opening of the Ecumenical Women's Centers," Sistercelebrations, p. 40.
- Nelle Morton, "The Dilemma of Celebration," in Womanspirit Rising, pp. 164-65, says that the feminists' "word" creates them and is them, just as Christians believe that God's Word created the universe and is him; this, of course, highlights the "divinity" of the feminists;* Elaine Sonosky, "The Liturgical theme," in Maureen Dwyer, ed., Proceedings of the Second Women's Ordination Conference, 1978, in New Women, New Church, New Priestly Ministry (Rochester, N.Y.: Kirk-Wood Press, 1980), pp. 147-48; Neu, p. 77 ("Theological Reflections . . ."); the "Celebration of the Word" in Sess. 12 of the Kit is a celebration of the feminist word; note the capital "W" used here and at the end of the other sessions and cf. the lower-case "w" for God's Word (Sess. 7, 10 and App. 3).
- Varley, p. 35.
- Carol Christ, "Spiritual Quest and Women's Experience," in Womanspirit Rising, p. 241.*
- Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, President's Lecture, University of St. Michael's College, Toronto, April 14, 1986, as reprinted in The Catholic Register supplement, "The Church in the 80's," Vol. 7, No. 8 (May 17, 1986), 7.
- Carol Christ and Judith Plaskow, "The Past: Does it Hold a Future for Women?," Womanspirit Rising, p. 64;* Sheila D. Collins, A Different Heaven and Earth (Valley Forge, Pa.: 1983), p. 94.*
- Collins, p. 141.*
- Ruether, Sexism, p. 184.*
- See the Communist document, Li Wei Han, The Catholic Church and Cuba (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1959), as reprinted in "The Secret Red Plan to Take Over the Catholic Church," The Fatima Crusader, Issue 19 (February-April, 1986), 6.
- Ruether, Sexism, pp. 186-87, 205.*
- Rosemary Ruether, "Emerging WomanChurch: the Challenge of Feminist Liturgical Communities," keynote address to the Fourth Annual Conference on Women and Spirituality, Mankato, Minn., October 1985, as reported in Donna Steichen, "From Convent to Coven: Catholic NeoPagans at the Witches' Sabbath," Fidelity, Vol 5, No. 1 (December, 1985), 28.
- Malone, pp. 125-37. Note that Malone was a member of the Ad Hoc Committee that produced the Kit.
- Judith Plaskow, "The Coming of Lilith: Toward a Feminist Theology," Womanspirit Rising, pp. 198-200, 204, 208; interestingly enough, Plaskow says that emotions generated in consciousness raising "move us forward".* Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, "To Comfort or to Challenge . . .," and Patricia Hughes, "Strategies for Transformation: Healing a Church," New Woman, 50, 135; also Sonosky, note 25.
- Behind the Veil: Nuns. Produced by Signe Johansson, Women's Studio D, National Film Board of Canada, 1984, cf. Starhawk, "Witchcraft and Women's Culture," Christ and Plaskow, "The Past" and "Creating New Traditions," Womanspirit Rising, pp. 260-62, 67, 196;* also Ruether's "Hallow-mass liturgy" in remembrance of the burning of witches (note 34), Hallowe'en is one of the witches' sabbats (see Charles Bowness, The Witch's Gospel [London: Robert Hale, 1979], p. 75; Iglehart, p. 159).
- In Memory, p. 31.*
- Sheila Collins, "Theology in the Politics of Appalachian Women," Womanspirit Rising, pp. 151-52; on p. 153, Collins says that herstory "moves us forward" (cf. Plaskow, note 36).*
- Fiorenza, note 16.*
- Starhawk, The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1979), pp. 186. 196-98: Wilson-Kastner, pp. 27-28. 34;* Rosemary Ruether, "Motherearth and the Megamachine: A Theology of Liberation . . .," and Collins, "Appalachian Women," Womanspirit Rising, pp 52, 156.* Collins, Different Heaven, p. 211.*
- Malone, p. 133, Ruether, Sexism, pp. 193-94.*
- See pp. 205-6.*
- Fiorenza, In Memory, pp. 343-51:* Neu. pp. 80-83 ("Claiming Our Power"). Note that Fiorenza is now "committed to women-church" (Concilium, No. 182 [December, 1985], 125) and cf. notes 34 and 35.
- Fiorenza, In Memory, pp. 32-33.*
- Naomi R. Goldenberg, "Dreams and Fantasies as Sources of Revelation: Feminist Appropriation of Jung," Womanspirit Rising, pp. 219-27;* Catherine F. Smith, "Jane Lead: The Feminist Mind and Art of a Seventeenth-Century Protestant Mystic," Women of Spirit, p. 200.* Cf. also, Wilson-Kastner, pp. 22, 24-25.*
- Ruether, Sexism, p. 209.
- Ibid., 21-22, 34;* Christ and Plaskow, note 29;* Fiorenza, "Word, Spirit and Power: Women in Early Christian Communities," Women of Spirit, pp. 30-31;* Collins, note 30.*
- Elaine H. Pagels, "What Became of God the Mother? Conflicting Images of God in Early Christianity," Womanspirit Rising, pp. 112-17;* Ruether, Sexism, pp. 34-35, 38-41.* Here, in 1983, Ruether hesitates about using witchcraft/paganism in feminist spirituality, not because of its inherent evil (p. 40), but because she wonders if it can be used in a "liberating" way (p. 41) without becoming a "vehicle of male power," as in the past (p. 39). By 1985, she has obviously overcome her doubts about the usefulness of witchcraft (see note 34).
- For the Gnostic belief, see Pagels, p. 113;* for its effect on Ruether, see note 23;* also, Stone, note 23* and Wilson-Kastner, pp. 20-23.*
- Ruether, Sexism, pp. 100-101;* Daly, p. 59.* It is this concept of a male-female God that is at the bottom of the feminists' demands for inclusive language (see Paule Cantin, SC, "Opening Address," What World?, p. 16; and Malone, pp. 135, 141-45.
- For the Gnostic belief, see Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels (New York: Random House, 1979), pp. xviii-xix. This belief finds its application in the basic feminist activity of consciousness-raising, which has self-knowledge as it goal (see "Pre-Conference Process," New Woman, p. 159); this goal is implied in the title of the Kit's 12th Sess., "Who Am I? Who Are We?" The goddess symbol beautifully connects the divinity belief of Gnosticism to witchcraft/paganism (see Carol Christ, "Why Women Need the Goddess . . .," and Zsuzanna E. Budapest, "Self-Blessing Ritual," Womanspirit Rising, pp. 273, 277, 271).*
- Lise Baroni (note 18), in advocating "tenderness" and "support" for those living in situations the Church (basing itself on God's commandments) considers sinful, e.g., homosexuality and couples living together before marriage, makes this presumptuous statement on behalf of women: "For most women, persons come first, not norms or law codes"; Fiorenza, "To Comfort," pp. 52-53, 56, 60; Sheehan, pp. 82-83; Neu, pp. 78, 80, 82-83. Note that Neu includes classism, racism, terrorism and heterosexism as "different expressions" of the sin of "patriarchal sexism" (p. 75)! Also see Fiorenza, "Feminist Spirituality," p. 147.*
- Lacelle, "Church Come Forward," What World? p. 103; Collins, "Appalachian Women," op. cit., pp. 155-56.*
- Anne Fremantle, Woman's Way to God (New York: St, Martin's Press, 1977), pp. V, IX and blurb on front flap; Fremantle considers Eve's disobedience smart, not sinful.
- Pagels, Gnostic Gospels, xx, 161. It would seem that the feminists' rejection of the Church's authority is strengthened by their belief that Gnostics, not orthodox Christians, possessed the true, enlightened vision of Christian community.
- Ibid., xxxviii; Christ and Plaskow, "The Past," p. 66.*
- See, for example, Ruether, Sexism, p. 59;* Pagels, "God the Mother," pp. 108-15.*
- Fiorenza, In Memory, pp. 51-56 (note how Fiorenza also quotes gnostic texts as Christian revelation);* Ruether, Sexism, p. 101,* Pagels, "God the Mother," p. 115.
- Ruether, Sexism, pp. 21-22, 34-36, 60;* Elaine C. Huber, "A Woman Must Not Speak: Quaker Women in the English Left Wing," and Barbara Brown Zikmund, "The Feminist Thrust of Sectarian Christianity," in Women of Spirit, pp. 153-81, 205-24.*
- Christ and Plaskow, "New Traditions," Christ, "Women Need the Goddess," and Starhawk, "Witchcraft," Womanspirit Rising, pp. 193-94, 196-97, 276, 262.*
- Wilson-Kastner, p. 22;* Christ (note 61 ), Christ and Plaskow, "New Traditions," and Starhawk, "Witchcraft," Womanspirit Rising, pp. 197, 263-65, 267.* See the dramatic example of material gain described by Steichen, pp. 35, 37.
- By "real" witch, I mean one whose only religion is witchcraft, which is also the center of her life. Spiritual feminist witches, on the other hand, maintain ties with institutional churches and see witchcraft as one of several ways of worship, incorporating it in varying amounts into their liturgies. Of course, a feminist witch can eventually become a real witch. Starhawk, a "real" witch (see Christ and Plaskow, "New Traditions," p. 196), has been given respectability in Catholic settings by being a regular teacher of ritual on the staff of the Institute in Culture and Creation Spirituality, Holy Names College, Oakland, Cal., founded and directed by Father Matthew Fox, O.P. (see Steichen, p. 32).
- The Wiccan worship service held at the Mankato Spirituality Conference did not pretend to be Christian, and was an undisguised witchcraft ritual (see Steichen, pp. 33-35).
- See the Kit, Sess. 12 and Neu, pp. 76-77; there are several litanies in Swidler; see also the one used at the Second Ordination Conference (Dolly Pomerlau, "Harbor Event," New Woman, p. 150).
- Lilith, invoked in Neu's litany (p. 76), is believed to be the queen of demons (Encyclopedia Americana, 1984, XVII, 478) and came to be known as the first witch (Herbert B Greenhouse, The Book of Psychic Knowledge [New York: Taplinger Publishing Co., 1973], p. 224-25).
- Maurine Stephens, "Sistercelebration: To Cultivate the Garden," Sistercelebrations, p. 54.
- Collins, "Appalachian Women," op. cit., p. 158.*
- Ruth, Rebecca, Eve, Lilith and Mary, invoked in Sess. 12 of The Kit and Neu litanies (note 65) are considered to be goddesses see Smith, p. 192;* Ruether, Sexism, p. 168;* Fiorenza, "Feminist Spirituality," p. 139.*
- Abbott Anscar Vonier, OSB, "Death and Judgement," and the Rev. J.P. Arendzen, "Eternal Punishment," Teaching of the Catholic Church, pp. 1121-22, 1209-10. Furthermore, Catholics recognize that only the three Persons of the Trinity can be in us and with us (John 14:16-17, 23; Gal. 2:20) and that only the Church founded on Peter will have undying strength (Matt. 16:17-18) and so, in their litanies they petition Mary or the Saints to "pray for us," never to be "in us" or "strengthen us as Church" (Sess. 12 and Neu, note 65); cf. Mgr. Canon E. Myers, "The Mystical Body of Christ," Teaching of the Catholic Church, pp. 686-87.
- Daniel Logan, America Bewitched (New York: William Morrow & Co., 1974), pp. 73-74.
- Starhawk, Dreaming the Dark: Magic, Sex & Politics (Boston: Beacon Press, 1982), p. 31.
- Starhawk, "Witchcraft," pp. 263-67* and Spiral Dance, p. 45; Iglehart, pp. 105-6, 135, 139-44. Witchcraft utilizes emotional energy such as anger (Starhawk, Dreaming, p. 29), so story-telling is a good way for feminist worship services incorporating witchcraft to begin (Starhawk, Spiral Dance, p. 42; Plaskow, "Lilith," p. 204;* Iglehart, p. xiv); cf. Sess. 12 and Neu (note 65); the "feminist" symbols used in all of the latter's liturgies are right out of witchcraft (cf. Starhawk, Spiral Dance, pp. 26, 81-82, 84-85).
- Hardon, pp. 442-43.
- Myers, "Mystical Body," p. 685. Canon Myers also notes that the Church does not venerate the just until she has infallibly declared that they have attained their eternal reward; hence on this point alone, Catholics err in reciting litanies that venerate the uncanonized, even if there were no witchcraft involved.
- Christ and Plaskow, "New Traditions," p. 196.*
- Not surprisingly, Iglehart's Womanspirit (notes 24 and 73) is about witchcraft. The phrase, "women's wisdom," found in the book's title, traditionally referred to witchcraft. Iglehart defines "womanspirit" as the "synthesis of feminism and spirituality" (p. xii).
- Note 73 makes it clear that Sess. 12 of the Kit and Neu's liturgies contain witchcraft. One presumes that the Canadian bishops were unaware of this when they approved the CCCB Kit.
- Morton. "Dilemma," pp. 159-60.*
- Daly, "Death of God," pp. 56, 59;* Wilson-Kastner, pp. 20-23.*
- Interestingly, Christian feminism seriously declares itself to be a prophetic movement see Fiorenza, "Feminist Spirituality," pp. 145-46:* Ruether, Sexism, pp. 23-24. 31-33;* Cantin, Lacelle, "Church Come Forward," and Anne Harvey. SC. "Looking Ahead," in What World?, pp. 13, 93, 127-31.
- Cf. the similarity of this phrase with the feminists' call to "move forward" (notes 7, 39* and Plaskow. 36*).
- Matt. 16:18, Ronald Knox translation of Bible (Cambridge: Univ. Press, 1956).
- St. Louis Mary De Montfort, The Secret of the Rosary, trans. Mary Barbour, TOP (Bay Shore, N.Y.: Montfort Publications, 1981), p. 27.
- As quoted, ibid., inside front cover.
- Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité, "The Third Secret Revealed . . .," The Fatima Crusader, Issue 20 (June-July, 1986), 22-23.
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