Thursday, July 31, 2008

Action alert: letter re: Rosemary R. Ruether dis-invitation

The recent dis-invitation from the University of San Diego will not hurt Rosemary Radford Ruether personally or professionally; she is internationally known and has plenty of work to do.*Far more troubling (besides the insult of the rescinded invitation) are the issues of 1) academic freedom and 2) narrow definitions of the Catholic tradition. *Dr. Ruether is a practicing Roman Catholic who works theologically within the broad Catholic tradition and who happens to hold positions different from formal teaching by the church hierarchy.

And all you Anglicans out there, the issue of who defines the church tradition and who belongs (who is in, who is out) should ring a bell, no?

The public letter to sign is rather long, but you can see it via the link. I'm just posting the cover letter here.


Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER)
Women's Ordination Conference (WOC)

Dear friends and colleagues,

The University of San Diego recently rescinded its invitation to Professor Rosemary Radford Ruether, Ph.D., to be the holder of the Monsignor John R. Portman Chair in Roman Catholic Theology for 2009-2010. We consider this a matter of serious concern with regard to academic freedom in Catholic institutions.

The Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER) and the Women's Ordination Conference (WOC) invite you to join us in expressing our views by signing onto our letter to USD President Mary E. Lyons and Vice President Julie Sullivan.

Please sign the letter by close of business on Friday, August 8, 2008 by clicking here or by emailing Erin Saiz Hanna. Please include the name of your organization, affiliation, or university if applicable.

Thank you for taking action with us.


Mary E. Hunt
Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER)

Aisha Taylor
Executive Director
Women's Ordination Conference (WOC

And now, a visual comment from the resident feline bishop, who favors feminist theology.

+ Maya Pavlova has always had impeccable theological taste and I did not ask her to sit on this book several weeks ago when I took this picture. She chose it of her own volition. Because this book by Rosemary Ruether is called Gaia and God, I have called this photo "Maya and Gaia."

+Maya believes in your freedom of conscience and in the power of the laity, however many or few legs the laity may have, so she will not bully you into signing this letter. She does, however, invite you to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest its concerns.


Ken said...

God bless us everyone. Ten years ago I heard a Lay Dominican in New Jersey say that the USA is the last fortress of true Catholic teachings in a Godless European world. This action by the USD and the Diocese proves he was onto something: the Dogma of Kneepads will help you survive. As you say, Jane, Ruether will overcome this rather easily. But the opprobrium heaped on the USD and its masters in the Diocese of San Diego...I would like to think there's going to be another story.

In all fairness, I believe ths would have happened if Ruether had been a man: it is the teaching that offends, not necessarily the plumbing. The Vatican silenced Roger Haight, SJ, for his writings on Christology.

But they keep getting away with it, don't they? That's our fault, not the RCC's.

Ken said...

Oh, just for the record, I signed the petition.

Jane R said...

Oh yes, it happens to men too. Many of them. In this case the concern was far less about RRR's christology and far more about her positions on reproduction and ordination of women, though. And the issue, as the authors of the letter point out, is the chilling realities re: freedom of theological inquiry within the Catholic tradition -- the very same issue of course that affected Roger Haight. It affects him much more personally since priests (and to a great extent members of religious orders both male and female) are directly subject to the hierarchy's authority. Lay people like Ruether have much more freedom, paradoxically. No one from the Vatican is forbidding RRR to teach Catholic theology because the Vatican ignores her work to begin with and because she has chosen (wisely for her own freedom of inquiry) to teach in Protestant and ecumenical institutions.

Anyway, I signed too... Thanks for signing. Hope you used your Ph.D. credential. Useful in this case and will carry some weight. (If you didn't, you can write the site a note to try and get your signature amended so it reads Ken ____, Ph.D.) (I'm not disclosing your last name here on blog but I hope you don't mind my telling the assembled multitudes that you have a hard-earned degree.)

johnieb said...

I signed, adding a reference to my ordination & academic background.

Jane R said...

Right on, JohnieB. Might as well get the mileage you can since all that hard work and credentialling isn't making you a gazillionaire. ;-)


Caminante said...

great book... if i had more fingers right now, i'd do a photoshop on maya and give her a proper mitre. another day.

FranIAm said...

I will go sign the petition. Great post on a sad topic.

Jane R said...

Caminante, take care of your hand first. But later, when you have a chance, a photoshop would be great.

Anonymous said...

The Provost, the President, and some members of the Board are as culpable and complicit as the "donor."