JANUARY 27, 2016
Feminist nun criticizes the Church on national television
There is currently raging a debate on the role — or the lack of it — of women in organized religion, and it has sparked a campaign for gender neutrality that cuts across religious barriers.
The Shani (the Shani Dev deity is embodied in the planet Saturn) Shingnapur temple in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra, is at the centre of the present controversy as women activists demand entry into its holiest areas where only men are presently allowed
Women have been debarred from entering the sanctum sanctorum of certain Hindu temples and, in some cases even the temple premises itself. Entry of menstruating women (between the ages of 10 and 50) is restricted in others (e.g. the Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala).
Women are not allowed to conduct the temple rituals that men are accorded privilege to.
At the Kartikeya temple in Pushkar, tradition holds that the deity places a curse on women who dare to enter and hence they are kept out. In other temples, it is claimed that the purity of the temple will be defiled by the entry of women.
Some sections of Muslim women have also been protesting their not being allowed equal space that men enjoy in mosques and dargahs like at the Haji Ali dargah in Mumbai (that is however not the case during the Haj pilgrimage and veneration of the Ka’aba).
Several TV channels have been organising prime time talk shows on the issue, with representatives (on both sides of the divide) of different religions and rights’ activists arguing their respective cases.
One such debate anchored by Rajdeep Sardesai was hosted on the India Today TV news channel earlier tonight at 9:00 pm, on the issue that in India “women are not given the same rights to worship as men”, on ensuring “the right to worship, right to pray, gender neutral”, and on who must decide on these issues (meaning that it is only men who hold that prerogative in all religions, and women do not have the “right to choose”) http://indiatoday.intoday.in/programme/shani-shingnapur-controversy-right-to-pray-must-be-gender-neutral-fear-in-the-sky-and-more/1/581305.html.
in the studio was Sr. Evelyn Menezes (26:40-38:47), spokesperson of the “Women’s Commission”.
First, the nun conceded to Sardesai that there is no religious place in the Catholic world that women are not allowed to enter. Her grouse is that women “cannot perform church services … at the altar“.
She was clear that that was the “only” restriction on Catholic women.
When asked by Sardesai whether she had ever challenged/questioned (the men and male priests) in the Church on the issue, she responded that today’s situation was the consequence of “tradition” (as had one of the representatives of Islam on the show when defending the restrictions imposed on Muslim women) but they were “working and fighting” for the right to perform “church services” at the altar.
When Sardesai wanted to know (37:30) if Catholic women were fighting for their rights, Sr. Evelyn Menezes said that they “had already proposed that women should be made priestess (sic)”. Sardesai then pitched in saying that people were waiting for the day when a woman would be Pope. To close the show, the nun issued the verdict that “every religion (meaning Catholicism included) is a victim of tradition“.
One wonders what “Women’s Commission” she is on as she is not on the Catholic Bishops’ (CBCI) Women’s Council. She probably is an activist of the liberal Ecclesia of Women in Asia [EWA],
Forum of Asian Catholic Women Theologians that militates for the ordination of women as priests. See file list on the following page.
It always surprises me as to how “progressives” and feminists — and not conservatives and faithful Catholics — are almost always invited to speak for the Church on these talk shows. Sr. Menezes must know that Pope after Pope has summarily rejected the possibility of ordaining women … and that unlike in Hinduism and Islam, women are permitted (sadly) into the sanctum sanctorum and to handle holy vessels at the altar.
Since the topic of women’s ordination is even not open to discussion, Sr. Evely Menezes must be hauled up by her superiors and the Bishops’ Conference for sullying the reputation of the Church on national television.
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Categories: Ordination of Women Priests Movement in India