Skip to comments.Angela Bonavoglia (feminist) won't let Catholic Church silence her
Posted on 05/20/2005 3:16:11 PM PDT by Coleus
Angela Bonavoglia won't let Catholic Church silence her
Angela Bonavoglia, the controversial speaker and author who was banned from speaking at the Catholic Jesuit Loyola Retreat in Morristown last week by Paterson Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli, spoke before a packed audience at an alternate location instead - St. Mark Lutheran Church, also in Morristown.
Although clearly dismayed the bishop's decision ("They don't know me," she quipped), Bonavoglia gave her speech as planned on May 11 and talked about the "invisible" crime of sex abuse against females and the need for the church to reconsider its policies on female ordination and priest marriage. Both practices are banned under Catholic law.
"When the clergy sex abuse crisis exploded onto the scene in 2002, the abuse of girls by Catholic priests remained invisible or, at most, a footnote," she said. "Yet the crisis has never been only about the abuse of male minors."
Earlier this month, Serratelli had asked the event's host, the Catholic lay group Voice of the Faithful, to uninvite Bonavoglia from the meeting because her positions were not consistent with traditional church teachings, according to diocese spokeswoman Marianna Thompson. Bonavoglia is pro-choice and supports the ordination of women priests.
"We affirm the right of every person to free speech," the diocese said in a statement released on May 10. "We affirm the right of every person to speak according to the dictates of conscience. However, we also hold fast to the doctrines of the faith and its teaching. It is inappropriate to create a forum in a Catholic House of Prayer for those who speak against the Church's teachings."
VOTF has previously held more than 20 meetings in the Paterson Diocese and this is the first time since the organization's 2002 inception that the diocese has interfered with a meeting. The Archdiocese of Newark does not allow VOTF meetings in its churches.
Bonavoglia, who lives with her husband in Westchester County, N.Y., is one of a growing chorus of U.S. Catholics who threaten to be a thorn in the side of the new pope, Benedict XVI, a strict theologian. Like a majority of U.S. Catholics (according to an April CBS News poll), Bonavoglia supports a re-evaluation of certain church policies, such as the ban on priest marriage, female ordination and all forms of birth control.
Catholics who challenge the traditional Catholic doctrines are sometimes referred to as "cafeteria Catholics," because they seemingly pick and choose the portions of Catholicism they like and discard the rest. But most say that assessment is not true, and that they are simply trying to urge the church to become more accessible, accountable and modern.
Bonavoglia's talk focused on areas where she and others feel the Catholic Church could, and should, be stronger and she offered ideas on how the church can achieve those goals - primarily by focusing more on women in the church.
She told the audience of about 100 that studies, including one conducted by John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, have shown that between 19 and 30 percent of clergy-abuse victims are girls. She also told the wrenching stories of several alleged female victims of priest sex abuse, including Rita Milla, Nancy Sloan and Susan Gallagher, whom Bonavoglia interviewed for her book "Good Catholic Girls: How Women are Leading the Fight to Change the Church."
Those women's pleas for help, protection and responsibility from the church were not met with empathy or action, Bonavoglia said, but "secrecy, defensiveness and disdain." Many post-adolescent female victims of clergy abuse have even been accused of "enjoying making priests sin," she said. Because of that attitude, she maintained, the issue of clergy abuse against females has not gotten the recognition it deserves.
Conversely, while some women are clearly being harmed by the church, Bonavoglia said, it is also clearly women who are holding the church together as it faces a growing shortage of priests, which has resulted in the closing of parishes.
"It is well known that the number of Catholic priests is plummeting. Though women cannot be ordained, they have clearly stepped into the breach," Bonavoglia said, noting that 82 percent of paid lay parish ministers in the United States are women and that women also represent 70 percent of the members of the National Association of Catholic Chaplains. Because they are not ordained, however, these women cannot perform certain duties, such as celebrating the Eucharist or conducting baptisms, weddings and funerals.
"It is a horrific state of affairs, particularly in emergencies when the lay chaplain cannot reach the Catholic priest on call, or in parts of the world where there is no priest for miles and no mass for months at a time," said Bonavoglia.
Most of the people in attendance were receptive to Bonavoglia's talk - she received a rousing ovation at the end of her speech - and expressed disappointment, but not disbelief, at the bishop's decision to ban her.
"It's not unexpected," said 72-year-old retiree Bob Haim of Berkeley Heights. "It's a case of, the bishop has the power, and he said, 'You're threatening me and I'm not going to let you do it.' Power doesn't like when you speak truth to power."
"This is unfortunate," said Hawthorne resident Mary Jane Sawey, 50, of the diocese's actions. "People want adult conversation and the biggest crime is for anyone to feel silenced."
Valerie LeBlanc, 62, of Kinnelon agreed. "We cannot continue to silence half of the Catholic community. It's contrary to Christ's life teaching and example. There is no way you can condone it." Bonavoglia "is a very important and courageous woman."
Despite the controversy surrounding her visit, Bonavoglia said she plans to continue speaking out.
"A basic tenet of our church is the Primacy of Conscience - that we have an obligation to listen to our conscience - and our theology must reflect what people think and feel about church teachings," she said. "We need speech in our church. We need our church to end the silencing."
These people are still in an uproar that a Catholic was actually chosen Pope.
If this group "packed" some Protestant church, I'd hate to see the place on a Sunday morning.
So priests don't only abuse boys?
and I bet the reporter exaggerated a bit. My guess there weren't even 75 and out of that, I bet many were not Catholic.
She has the right to spout her nonsense anywhere else she wants to, just not in a Church, because that gives the impression that the Catholic Church is in agreement with what she has to say. She, and the Church, knows that is not true.
"Serratelli, spoke before a packed audience..."
"She told an audience of about 100..."
Blah, blah, blah. Obviously the same unwashed 37 that show up for all this kind of cr@p were in attendance. BFD.
Did they meet in a phone booth? That would ensure a "packed" audience, LOL!
And she doesn't know who she's messing with Coleus!
Oh yeah, poor little helpless female, being "silenced" by the big bad RCC. How did they "silence" her, did they put panties on her head?
What does she care what the Catholic Church does? She's as Catholic as I am - and I'm Jewish.
I once read a book she compiled called "Choices we Made" about famous feminazis such as Anne Archer, Whoopi Goldberg, and many others who actually BRAG about having had abortions. Sick women, the whole lot of them. And the mug on that girl is enough to make a grown man heave. I was shocked to read that she has a husband. He must be blind, deaf, dumb or all of the above.
I'd say they're more like a 'graying' chorus, since most of them were in their heyday in the late 60's and early 70's. They just don't understand why they're not drawing more Catholics to their cause. Maybe it's because most of those younger than she, who believe what Bonavogilia and her friends believe, have never joined the Catholic Church. They just did the honest thing and either didn't join any Church, or joined a Church that comported with their beliefs. They didn't bitch and moan and try to change one that teaches what it had taught since the beginning, then get mad because those dried up old men wouldn't change their minds and get with the times.
Women cannot be ordained because women cannot confect the Holy Eucharist, as taught by the Holy Spirit through John Paul II.
The irony here is that if the Roman Catholic Church ordained women as priests, that would be proof that it is a sham.
Since it is not a sham, it ain't gonna happen!
I bet she would have been content with Tubby Kennedy as Pope.
"How did they "silence" her, did they put panties on her head?"
No, no! Aren't you up on Current Events? No more 'panties on the head' photos. The Brits publish pictures of you in your Tighty Whities in 'The Sun' to silence you, now. :)
" But most say that assessment is not true, and that they are simply trying to urge the church to become more accessible, accountable and modern."
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Same thing they said in 450AD, 870AD, 1400AD, and so on.
The whims of the current culture do not last. The Universal Church lasts.
Power likes only lies. I finally get it!
Viva Papa Benedictus!
We all know who, between Angela and the Church, is going to be "silenced" in the end. And it will be by someone much more powerful than the feminist movement, or the Church for that matter.
As Fr. Coripi said ,"Oh you can follow your own conscience, but you'll go to hell
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