Send in the clowns
Nun to speak in
Burlingame Mercy Sister Eloise Rosenblatt, who gave a keynote address for the Northern California Lay Convocation at St. Francisco’s St. Mary’s Cathedral in June, will speak on “Countering and Challenging Patriarchy in the Church” on Oct. 27 at Our Lady of the Rosary Church Hall in Palo Alto.
The event, sponsored by the
According to the Oct. 14 Thomas Merton Center bulletin, Sister Eloise will address the question: “How do progressive Catholics, who wish to stay members of the Roman church, change the entrenched patriarchal church systems that disempower the laity in general, and women in particular?” Sister “will take a broad analytical approach and recognize how subordination works culturally and doctrinally,” said the bulletin. “She proposes long-term strategies for resisting and reforming patriarchal approaches to church leadership, by invoking the church’s own teaching.”
Sister Eloise, both a feminist theologian and a doctor of law, directs ELOROS Inc. (Education, Law, and Religious Organizations), which, says the bulletin, is “a non-profit organization that provides parish inservice education about employment issues and
In the past, Sister Eloise has addressed other “progressive” gatherings. She offered workshops at the 1998 and 2005 Call to Action West Coast Conferences on the topics, “Keeping your church job,” church law, and clergy sexual exploitation of adult women. Call to Action is a group that promotes public dissent against Church teaching on women’s ordination, homosexuality, birth control, and other matters.
In 1997, Sister Eloise was a workshop presenter at the Catholic Women Network’s Annual Conference, where attendees learned about eastern spiritualities, “Goddess qualities,” mandalas, and “Holistic/Ecofeminist Spirituality.”
In her 2005 book, ”While the Bridegroom is with them”: Marriage, Family, Gender and Violence in the Gospel of Matthew, Marianne Blickenstaff describes Sister Eloise’s interpretation of the parable of the wise and foolish virgins in Matthew’s Gospel. According to Blickenstaff, Sister Eloise sees the parable as directed at women in the “Matthean community,” exhorting women to choose to be “‘wise’ by conforming to certain behaviors prescribed by those in power (whom Rosenblatt identifies as primarily the men in the community.” The “choice between ‘wise’ and ‘foolish’” for Sister Eloise, says Blickenstaff, “serves not only to keep the women in line, but to divide the women against each other, and thus reduce any power they might have had as a group.”
Last June’s convocation at St. Mary’s cathedral, Sr. Eloise said, showed how Catholics now voice their opinion in the Church through conversation. “Some of the hotly debated issues” she had heard “involve substantive unresolved questions of Church life – women’s incorporation in ministry and decision making, the survival of the priesthood and the rule of celibacy, the Church’s teaching on human sexuality, laity having a voice in the selection of local bishops... protecting freedom of speech... promotion of a collegial and collaborative leadership style between hierarchy and laity with genuine consultation with laity” on a variety of issues.