When Bishops Bully Women

All bullies are repugnant especially when they carry big golden sticks.


‘The bill which was passed is fundamentally flawed.

The Executive Order is meaningless.

Sr. Carol is mistaken in thinking that this is pro-life legislation,’ Cardinal George emphatically said.


Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George, head of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said last week that a group of American Catholic women religious broke ranks with the USCCB on health care reform in March 2010 and were therefore responsible for the passage of the Obama healthcare program. “Sister Carol and her colleagues are to blame,” announced Cardinal George.

George’s remarks during the USCCB’s Spring meeting in St. Petersburg, Florida refer to Carol Keehan, the CEO and president of the Catholic Health Association (CHA), whose group endorsed the Obama administration’s health care bill. A statement issued by the association prior to the bill’s passage said that while the legislation was “far from perfect … (it) represents great progress in the long effort to make health care available and affordable to everyone in the United States.”

Sr. Carol Keehan waving the pen the President gave her.


During the bishops’ executive session held last week on Tuesday morning, Cardinal George recounted the events that took place prior to President Obama’s signing of the health care reform bill. George then concluded his remarks by criticizing the Catholic Health Association  and Sr. Keehan, saying they have created the dangerous precedent of a parallel magisterium to the bishops.

Frankly, it is very clear that our bishops have problems with women, especially women religious. They remind me of the big bully down the street when I was growing up. When the fellow failed in football or flunked an exam he would physically beat-up his (star-athlete) sister and verbally abuse her in the school playground. Some guys, when they cannot live with reality,  vent their own frustrations and their own shortcomings by bullying women.

These days – as part of a living US Catholic history project — I am keeping a list of bishops who bully women. So this past week, we had Cardinal George (and a lot of other pointed-hat men) in St. Petersburg.

Earlier this month we had Bishop Thomas Olmstead of Phoenix and his excommunication of Sister Margaret McBride.

A year ago in March, Bishop Robert Morlino of the Madison Diocese questioned Ruth Kolpack about the master’s thesis she wrote in 2003 about using gender-inclusive language in liturgy. Morlino demanded that she renounce her thesis. When Kolpack declined to renounce her thesis because it would be academically dishonest, Morlino fired her. For the last 25 years, Ruth had been employed at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Beloit, Wisconsin, serving under four pastors and three bishops. Since 1995 she’d been a pastoral associate, working in religious education, liturgy and service to minorities, living out the teachings of the church.  Ruth was fired after a 10-minute meeting with Bishop Robert Morlino.

I invite readers of ANOTHER VOICE to send me their own bishop-bullying-women stories…..

This nonsense has to stop.

No Pope No Bishop Among 100 Influential

Time Magazine has announced its 2010 list of  “the 100 most influential people” who shape our world.

Although the Vatican has revved up its PR tactics, Pope Benedict did not make it in any category. In fact no Roman Catholic bishop made it in any category: neither among leaders, nor heroes, nor thinkers, nor leaders in social networking; nor even among artists, although we all know that our pope and bishops are indeed colorful actors.

This American Catholic is delighted to point out however that SISTER Carol Keehan, however DID make the list! Remember Sister Carol? She is the one denounced by so many high-placed US bishops.

I love what Victoria Reggie Kennedy writes in Time about Sister Carol:

Courageous and purposeful, Sister Carol Keehan, 66, is a deeply religious Catholic woman dedicated to carrying out the healing ministry of Jesus Christ on earth. Her leadership of the Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA) has been defined by advocacy for the poor and an unwavering respect for human dignity. Her fight to reform health care was an extension of her concern for the most vulnerable in our society and was as integral to the mission of CHA as providing medical services. Undeterred by her critics, she refused to back down as she fought for reforms that would include prenatal and maternity care and coverage for uninsured children. She fought for those who couldn’t fight for themselves.

Leadership is not about doing what’s easy. It’s about doing what’s right. Last March, my husband, Senator Edward Kennedy, said he looked forward to being a foot soldier in the fight for reform and vowed that, this time, we would not fail. Sister Carol was a vital foot soldier in that fight.

And this time, we did not fail.